indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Obama vows Salazar will fulfill trust responsibilities
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Filed Under: Cobell | Politics | Trust


President-elect Barack Obama introduced Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colorado) as his nominee for Secretary of the Department of the Interior on Wednesday, vowing to give tribal nations a voice in his administration.

Speaking from his transition headquarters in Chicago, Obama promised his pick will ensure the federal government lives up to its treaty and trust responsibilities. Interior oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, the two agencies with the most impact on reservations.

"We need more than just a government-to-government relationship, we need a nation-to-nation relationship," the incoming president said.

Salazar, a first-term senator from a state with two tribes, hasn't had much experience with Indian issues during his time in Washington, D.C. But he also referenced Native Americans in his remarks yesterday.

"I look forward to helping to address the challenges faced by our Native American communities across the nation," said Salazar, who comes from a ranching family.

The comments from Obama and Salazar stood in direct contrast to those made by President George W. Bush and his Interior nominees. In 2000, when Coloradan Gale Norton was named to the post, and 2006, when former Idaho governor Dirk Kempthorne took her place, Indian issues weren't mentioned at all.

But controversies, ranging from the Indian trust fund debacle to off-reservation gaming, consumed both picks. The Jack Abramoff scandal, the largest in Washington in recent history, sent a top Interior official to prison for his dealings on tribal matters.

"I also want an Interior Department that very frankly cleans up its act," Obama said. "There have been too many problems and too much emphasis on big time lobbyists in Washington."

"That's going to change under Ken Salazar," Obama added.

Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit over individual Indian trust funds, expressed hope that Obama and Salazar will live up to their pledges. Her case was filed in June 1996 and has failed to see a resolution under Democratic and Republican presidents.

"Now it is up to the next president and his Interior Secretary to settle what is the longest-running class action civil suit against the government," Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, said in a statement.

Two of Cobell's attorneys -- John Echohawk, the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, and Keith Harper, a former NARF staffer now in private practice -- are in fact playing a key role in shaping the new Interior as members of Obama's transition team. Echohawk and another ex-NARF attorney have been dealing with general Interior issues while Harper has focused on the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Besides nominating Salazar, Obama will choose a new assistant secretary for Indian Affairs to oversee the BIA, a new Special Trustee for American Indians for OST and a new chair for the NIGC. Salazar, if confirmed, gets to name two of the NIGC commissioners.

But before those posts are filled, Salazar will go through the confirmation process. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on which Salazar served, is expected to hold hearings on the nomination in January.

"He understands how to manage federal lands and resources and knows the importance of working with stakeholders while protecting the public interest," Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), the chairman of the committee said. "Ken also will provide a strong Western voice in the Cabinet, and he’ll do a terrific job working with the states and the tribes."

Kempthorne, who will stay on board until Obama is inaugurated on January 20, praised Salazar too. "He recognizes the importance that America's federal lands must play in reducing our dependence on foreign energy; he supports our national parks; he has positive relationships with American Indian tribes; he understands the complexities of western water issues," Kempthorne said in a statement.

From Change.Gov:
President-elect Obama announces Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture (December 17, 2008)

Related Stories:
Ken Salazar being announced as Interior nominee (12/17)
Editorial: Salazar inherits troubled Interior (12/17)
Editorial: Ken Salazar a wise choice for Interior (12/16)
Opinion: A Republican for Interior Secretary (12/16)
Editorial: Eleventh hour mischief at Interior (12/16)
Report finds political influence by Interior official (12/16)
Reports: Sen. Ken Salazar slated for Interior (12/15)
Opinion: A Republican for Interior Secretary (12/16)
Arizona Tribes: Raul Grijalva for Interior Secretary (12/12)
Editorial: Raul Grijalva for Interior Secretary (12/11)
Gover now calls potential Interior nod a 'rumor' (12/10)
Potential Interior picks pressed on disenrollment (12/10)
Gover not expecting to hear from Obama transition (12/9)
Grist: Kevin Gover up for Interior Secretary (12/8)
Opinion: Raul Grijalva a wise choice for Interior (12/8)
Cobell lawyer leads Interior transition for Obama (12/5)
In the Loop: Interior Secretary pick next in line (12/5)
Tribal membership disputes on nominee radar (12/2)
Arizona tribes contributed to Napolitano PAC (11/25)
Editorial: Raul Grijalva for Interior Secretary (11/25)
Strong outlook for Indian Country under Obama (11/21)
NIGC prepares for transition to new administration (11/19)
Indian gaming issues up for Obama's review (11/19)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
Ask the Expert: Why can't I win at tribal casino slot machines? (10/29)
Native Sun News: Event commemorates Sand Creek Massacre (10/28)
Erma Vizenor: Join tribes for protest at NFL game in Minnesota (10/28)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation helps build tomorrow's leaders (10/28)
Ruth Hopkins: Tribes need to raise awareness of breast cancer (10/28)
Navajo Nation election officials refuse to delay upcoming vote (10/28)
Senate candidates battle for Indian vote in South Dakota race (10/28)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe lays claim to former reservation in Ohio (10/28)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to investigate potential burial grounds (10/28)
Judge rules for tribes in Wyoming in dispute over diverted water (10/28)
Editorial: Delaware Tribe pursues return to homelands in Kansas (10/28)
Opinion: Cowboys and Indians come together on common cause (10/28)
Opinion: Help Moapa Band bring solar energy to more consumers (10/28)
Ex-employee sentenced for stealing from Passamaquoddy Tribe (10/28)
Chukchansi Tribe sends audits to NIGC as casino remains closed (10/28)
Little River Band still touting proposal for off-reservation casino (10/28)
Santee Sioux Tribe getting ready to debut golf course at casino (10/28)
Nisqually Tribe to launch part of $45M casino expansion project (10/28)
Opinion: Vote yes to support North Fork Rancheria gaming deal (10/28)
Editorial: No logic in putting Cowlitz Tribe's gaming site in trust (10/28)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.