"I see a lot of friends, a lot of familiar faces in the house. I want to thank all the tribal leaders who have traveled here for this conference. And I also want to recognize all the wonderful members of Congress who are here, as well as members of my Cabinet, including Secretary Salazar, who is doing terrific work here at Interior on behalf of the First Americans and on behalf of all Americans. So thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with several tribal leaders at the White House, continuing a conversation that began long before I was President. And while I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak with you this morning, I’m also very eager to see the results of today’s meeting. I want to hear more from you about how we can strengthen the relationship between our governments, whether in education or health care, or in fighting crime or in creating jobs.
And that’s why we’re here today. That’s a promise I’ve made to you. I remember, more than two years ago, in Montana, I visited the Crow Nation -- one of the many times I met with tribal leaders on the campaign trail. You may know that on that trip, I became an adopted Crow Indian. My Crow name is “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.” (Applause.) And my wife, when I told her about this, she said, “You should be named ‘One Who Isn’t Picking Up His Shoes and His Socks’.” (Laughter.)
Now -- but I like the first name better. And I want you to know that I’m working very hard to live up to that name.
What I said then was that as President I would make sure that you had a voice in the White House. (Applause.) I said that so long as I held this office, never again would Native Americans be forgotten or ignored. (Applause.) And over the past two years, my administration, working hand in hand with many of you, has strived to keep that promise. And you’ve had strong partners in Kim Teehee, my senior advisor for Native American issues, and Jodi Gillette, in our Intergovernmental Affairs office. You can give them a big round of applause. They do outstanding work. (Applause.)
Last year, we held the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history. And at that conference -- you remember, most of you were there -- I ordered every Cabinet agency to promote more consultation with the tribal nations. Because I don’t believe that the solutions to any of our problems can be dictated solely from Washington. Real change depends on all of us doing our part."
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Remarks by the President at the White House Tribal Nations Conference
(White House 12/16)
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