Reznet: Tribes make a new start with White House
"Fulfilling a campaign pledge, President Obama welcomed nearly 400 tribal leaders to his White House Tribal Nations Conference on Thursday and assured them that his support of Native issues is genuine and his historic summit is no mere "lip service" to Indian Country.

Tribal leaders, many of whom had supported Obama during his campaign, greeted him warmly as he underscored his political and personal kinship to Natives and provided access to his top officials so they could hear firsthand the concerns of tribal communities.

Obama also publicly signed a memorandum aimed at beefing up an old executive order from the Clinton Administration that was supposed to help Native communities but has languished for nine years in the bureaucracy.

That order was intended to establish 'regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration" between Native nations and the federal government, Obama said, but little has been done. With the signing of his memorandum, Cabinet agencies will now have to produce a plan in 90 days.

"And I want to be clear about this," he told the group at one point, "Today's summit is not lip service. We're not going to go through the motions and pay tribute to one another, and then furl up the flags and go our separate ways. Today's sessions are part of a lasting conversation that's crucial to our shared future."

In inviting representatives of 564 federally recognized tribes, Obama was making good on a campaign promise to bring tribal leaders to Washington to help his administration shape federal policies regarding Indian Country.

Critics and even some of his supporters had questioned whether such a summit would take place or, if it did, whether it would turn out to be a one-time event. While stopping short of any timetable, Obama indicated that the tribal summit was just a start. "

Get the Story:
Obama: Tribal Nations Conference Just a Start (Reznet 11/5)

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