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Audio: Bush explains meaning of tribal sovereignty

Laughter greeted President George W. Bush today when he explained the meaning of tribal sovereignty at the UNITY 2004 minority journalists convention.

Mark Trahant, the editorial page editor of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Nation of Idaho, asked Bush: "What do you think tribal sovereignty means in the 21st century and how do we resolve conflicts between tribes and the federal and state governments?"

Bush's immediate response was: "Tribal sovereignty means that. It's sovereign," he said. "You're a .. you're a ... you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity," he added.

The remark drew guffaws from the crowd at the Washington, D.C., convention center, prompting Bush to throw his hand in the air momentarily.

Bush went on to explain the nature of the trust relationship but didn't use the word trust or the phrase government-to-government.

"Therefore, the relationship between the federal government and tribes is one between sovereign entities," he said. "Now the federal government has got a responsibly on matters like education and security to help, and health care. It's a solemn duty. From this perspective, we must continue to uphold that duty."

Bush said that "one of the most promising areas of all is to help with economic development. And that means helping people to understand what it means to start a business. That's why the Small Business Administration has increased loans. It means, obviously, encouraging capital flow."

"But none of that will happen unless the education systems flourish and are strong. That's why I told you that we spent $1.1 billion in reconstruction of Native American schools," he concluded.

An audio clip of the exchange is linked below.

Bush at UNITY:
President Bush-Mark Trahant Clip | Full Transcript

Related Story:
Bush at Unity Conference (Wonkette 8/6)

Relevant Links:
UNITY 2004 -
Native American Journalists Association -

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