indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
Donna Ennis: Don't let ethnic imposters take away our identity (9/16)
Serial killer sentenced to life term for murder of Native woman (9/16)
Civil rights complaint filed over repeated denial of honor song (9/16)
Sen. Cantwell to introduce bill to end NFL's tax-exempt status (9/16)
House backs package to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/16)
Fort Belknap Tribe detained state game warden for trespassing (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe to open first Smashburger location in December (9/16)
Police in Ontario investigate letter that threatens Native people (9/16)
Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods (9/16)
Indian family in Washington continues bid for casino on allotment (9/16)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe challenges NLRB jurisdiction over casino (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe loses bid for commercial casino in Massachusetts (9/16)
Connecticut tribes see another decline in slot machine revenues (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
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.