Opinion piece: Setting a new standard for tribal-US relations

Mark Trahant writes in Indian Country Today on his take from the recent White House Tribal Nations Conference.

He states in part: “This is an administration that actually believes the United States government must represent all of the people, including American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Make no mistake: Everything is not perfect between Indian country and the U.S. as we close 2010. There are lots of legitimate complaints about how the federal government executes its responsibilities towards indigenous people. . . .

One promise kept is the reversal of the United States position on the U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. “The aspirations it affirms – including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples – are one we must always seek to fulfill,” the president said.

. . . Seven cabinet members attended the Tribal Nations Conference and many of those federal agencies are at least going through a process of consultation with tribes.

But beyond the specifics, a year from now the default is set for the standard of a White House exchange with tribal leaders; the next president – indeed, all future presidents – will be pressured to engage in at least a similar, and serious dialogue. (This is exactly how it worked with presidential statements on tribal self-determination. Once it was a big deal, after Presidents Johnson and Nixon. Now it is expected.) . . .”

Click on the link above to read his entire opinion piece.

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