"President Obama is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address this week, marking his first year in office. Although opinion is divided on how the president has acted upon his campaign promises and his slogans of "hope and change," the overwhelming response from Indian Country is that Obama, so far, has kept his promise to change the way the U.S. government deals with Native Americans.
"This has probably been the best year for Native Americans in a long time," said Congressman Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Tribe and the only tribal member now in Congress. "Certainly, in my experience, I have never seen anything like it."
Obama first outlined his Indian policy during a campaign stop on the Crow reservation in Montana in '08. He said the government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and tribal nations would be a top priority under his administration, as well as ensuring that the federal government was meeting their treaty obligations, and that Native people would be given a voice in the White House.
He promised that he would "appoint an American Indian policy adviser to his senior White House staff to work with tribes." He said he would "host an annual summit at the White House with tribal leaders to come up with an agenda that works for tribal communities."
It took awhile, but in November, the Tribal Nations Conference was held and representatives from 564 federally recognized tribes were invited. The President signed an executive memorandum on tribal consultation. This order directs federal agencies, and the executive branch, to engage in regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have tribal implications."
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Harlan McKosato: Native Americans note progress under Obama
(The Santa Fe New Mexican 1/23)