You are not logged in.
The White House Blog
Kicking Off the White House Tribal Nations Conference
Posted by Secretary Ken Salazar on December 16, 2010 at 10:41 AM EST
Ed. Note: The closing session of the White House Tribal Nations Conference will be streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov/live starting at 1:45 p.m. EST. Video of the opening session, including President Obama's remarks will be available on WhiteHouse.gov later today. Learn more about the new Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs being announced from the Department of Energy's blog.
This morning we kicked off the White House Tribal Nations Conference, a gathering that is a testament to President Obama's respect for the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations and determination to honor the Nation's commitments to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
President Obama is hosting the conference here at the Department of the Interior - the second he has convened since taking office - and delivered keynote remarks to leaders of the 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Members of the President's cabinet and other high-ranking Administration officials will be participating in a series of breakout sessions with tribal leaders, discussing a wide range of social, economic and political challenges facing Indian Country. It is rare that so many of us are in one place at the same time and it speaks to President Obama's high-level engagement with and commitment to Indian Country.
A little over a year ago - at the first-ever White House Tribal Nations Conference - President Obama pledged that we would work with American Indian leaders to fulfill our trust responsibilities, to empower tribal governments and to help build safer, stronger and more prosperous tribal communities.
While we have made great progress on these fronts, there is much work to be done - by all of us. It is my hope that today provides a venue through which to continue a candid and honest dialogue between and among nations as we develop a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country.
Together we are building a solid foundation for a bright, prosperous and more fulfilling future for the First Americans.
Ken Salazar is the Secretary of the Interior
http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/12/ … conference
Obama backs U.N. indigenous rights declaration
WASHINGTON | Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:46am EST
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Thursday he was giving a belated U.S. endorsement to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, drawing hearty applause from a gathering of native Americans.
The U.N. declaration recognizes rights of indigenous groups, like American Indians, in such areas as culture, property and self-determination.
"I want to be clear: what matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words," Obama said as he announced U.S. support for the declaration in opening the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Interior Department.
The United States had been one of a handful of nations to hold back from endorsing the declaration in the past.
Welcoming the move, Robert Coulter of the Indian Law Resource Center said in a written statement: "The Declaration sets an agenda for the United States and Indian nations to design a reasonable approach to a progressive realization of the duties and responsibilities in it."
"It serves as a guide for consultations among Indian and Alaska Native nations and U.S. governmental departments and agencies," he said.
Obama told the conference gathering of some 500, including more than 320 representatives of federally recognized tribes, that the White House would issue further details about the endorsement of the declaration later.
Critics say the declaration could lead to American tribes gaining more independence and economic power than is reasonable.
Recalling a presidential campaign visit he paid to the Crow Nation reservation in Montana, he said the Crow name he was given was: "One who helps people throughout the land."
He joked that his wife said his name should be: "One who is not picking up his shoes and his socks."
Fawn Sharp of the Quinault India Nation said in introducing Obama that "extraordinary strides have been made in restoring trust between" Indian country and the federal government under his administration.
(Reporting by Caren Bohan; Writing by Jerry Norton; Editing by Steve Gorman)
Last edited by bls926 (Dec-16-2010 12:29:pm)
UN Declaration sets new agenda for US-Indian relations
We will be posting comments from other Indian and community leaders throughout day. Please check back.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2010
Robert T. Coulter
Executive Director, Indian Law Resource Center
Today, the United States government at last officially endorsed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and joined the international community in recognizing that American Indians and other indigenous peoples have a permanent right to exist as peoples, nations, cultures, and societies.
The United States is the last of the four countries that voted against the UN Declaration to reverse its position. This endorsement reflects the worldwide acceptance of indigenous peoples and our governments as a permanent part of the world community and the countries where we live. The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is the most significant development in international human rights law in decades. International human rights law now recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples as peoples, including rights of self-determination, property, and culture.
For me, the United Statesí endorsement of the UN Declaration marks the culmination of over three decades of hard work by indigenous peoples and other members of the international human rights community. In 1976, when the Six Nations and I began the work of drafting and proposing a declaration to be adopted by the United Nations, we did not know that our idea would one day be universally accepted and supported first by indigenous peoples and eventually by the countries of the world. We knew of the terrible inadequacy of legal regimes and the gross violations of indigenous peoplesí human rights in most countries. We turned to international law primarily because of the need to overcome and improve national laws and practices and because of the desire to regain a place for indigenous peoples in the international community.
Our work to ensure justice for Indian nations in this country begins in earnest with the United Statesí endorsement of the UN Declaration. To see the promise of the Declaration become a reality, we must continue to fight for laws, policies and relationships that take into account the permanent presence of Indian nations in this country, and throughout the world.
The Declaration sets an agenda for the United States and Indian nations to design a reasonable approach to a progressive realization of the duties and responsibilities in it. It serves as a guide for consultations among Indian and Alaska Native nations and U.S. governmental departments and agencies to improve the government-to-government relationship among Indian and Alaska Native nations and the United States.
In our work for Indian rights, we can and should use the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a powerful affirmation of our rights. Only through continued use will its provisions become our reality. We can use the Declaration to evaluate laws that are now on the books and for laws that may be proposed. Does the law measure up to the standards of the Declaration? Does the law or bill satisfy the requirements of the Declaration? It should. And if it does not, then it should be changed or discarded.
The Declaration can also be used as a guide for procedures and processes in dealing with indigenous peoples. Some of the most important rights in the Declaration are the right to participate in the decision-making process and the right to be consulted on important matters relating to indigenous peoples. The rights proclaimed in the Declaration can also be used to defend against proposals and actions that violate Indian rights. The Declaration can be used in this way by all people: Indian leaders, public officials, educators, and others.
The Declaration can also be used to support and advocate for positive legislation and positive government action relating to Indian peoples. In particular, the Declaration can be used as a basis for making demands that the federal government fulfill its responsibilities to tribes and carry out its obligations to promote and respect the human rights of Indian nations and tribes. Congress needs to hold hearings to examine the United Statesí human rights obligations to Indians and to assess whether existing laws and policies adequately respect the rights established in international law.
Continuing to work in this way to ensure justice for Indian peoples is the best way to celebrate and honor the United Statesí endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is a very important first step in the process. We thank all of the advocates, leaders and government officials who have made this vision of freedom and equality a reality.
For further information about the UN Declaration and how you can participate in its implementation, contact us at 202/547-2800 or 406/449-2006 or go to www.indianlaw.org
Robert Tim Coulter, founder and executive director of the Indian Law Resource Center in Helena, Mont., and Washington, D.C., has practiced Indian and human rights law for more than 30 years.
http://www.indianlaw.org/content/un-dec … -relations