indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Indian lawmakers achieve goals in Montana (8/3)
Lakota Country Times: Skate competition grows at Pine Ridge (8/3)
Mark Trahant: Appoint tribal delegates to serve in US Congress (8/3)
Delphine Red Shirt: Restore Black Hills peak to its rightful name (8/3)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota grandmothers hold our society together (8/3)
Steve Russell: The Great White Lion Hunter kills only for thrills (8/3)
Steven Newcomb: High court still relying on Christian doctrine (8/3)
Muscogee Nation activist dangled from bridge to stop oil ship (7/31)
Native Sun News: Rapid City mayor denies claim of retaliation (7/31)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Rapid City mayor's year of retaliation (7/31)
Brandon Ecoffey: Rapid City continues with tradition of racism (7/31)
Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne Tribe leaves people in dark (7/31)
Lakota Country Times: Group seeks to boost Pine Ridge tourism (7/31)
Federal murder charges laid for shooting on Crow Reservation (7/31)
Alex White Plume asks court for permission to plant hemp crop (7/31)
Isleta Pueblo welcomes Secretary Sally Jewell for school event (7/31)
Tribes caught off-guard with mandate from Affordable Care Act (7/31)
Commerce Blog: Secretary Pritzker meets with tribes and youth (7/31)
Tribes in Pacific Northwest 'very worried' about future of salmon (7/31)
Alaska to recognize tribal domestic violence protection orders (7/31)
Moapa Band enters $4.3M settlement for power plant pollution (7/31)
Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Indian Affairs holds first meeting (7/31)
Donald Trump not shy with invoking race when it comes to tribes (7/31)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe sees big future with Class II casino (7/31)
Catawba Nation still waiting for answer on casino land-into-trust (7/31)
Last defendant sentenced in theft case at Yakama Nation casino (7/31)
Senate committee examines costs of substance abuse on tribes (7/30)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee delays vote on land-into-trust (7/30)
BIA allows two more New Mexico gaming deals to go into effect (7/30)
Former workers at Choctaw Nation casino plead guilty to theft (7/30)
Inmate charged with murdering Mississippi Choctaw man in jail (7/30)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline protest draws big crowd (7/30)
James Giago Davies: Don't judge anyone's depth of Lakotaness (7/30)
Tara Houska: DC rally puts focus on threats to sacred Oak Flat (7/30)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Native mother left to die in a jail cell (7/30)
Julian Brave NoiseCat: Native issues you aren't hearing about (7/30)
Peter d'Errico: Seeking action after apology from Pope Francis (7/30)
Suspect in custody over deadly shooting on Crow Reservation (7/30)
Shooting highlights racial tensions on Wind River Reservation (7/30)
Pueblo man goes on trial for brutal murder of Navajo woman (7/30)
Another sentence in Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption scandal (7/30)
Oglala Sioux Tribe on track to complete $16.5M nursing home (7/30)
Quapaw Tribe hosts relatives for annual language conference (7/30)
Former police chief for Swinomish Tribe pleads guilty to theft (7/30)
Winnebago Tribe seeks more time to remove old bank building (7/30)
Opinion: Eastern Cherokee leaders kick reporter out of meeting (7/30)
Indian family in Washington still pursuing casino on trust land (7/30)
Red Lake Nation leader supports sales of liquor at two casinos (7/30)
Mohegan Tribe reports increase in profit from casino enterprise (7/30)
Sen. Barrasso introduces another version of land-into-trust fix (7/29)
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.