Thursday, November 5, 2009

The White House Tribal Nations Conference

The White House Tribal Nations Conference
Posted by Jesse Lee on November 05, 2009 at 09:19 AM EST
All day today we will be live streaming the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior, including opening and closing remarks from the President and discussions ranging from jobs to energy to housing to health care. As part of President Obama’s sustained outreach to the American people, this conference will provide leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration. Each federally recognized tribe has been invited to send one representative to the conference.

Watch all day at

UPDATE: During the President’s opening remarks, he discussed the Memorandum he was about to sign:

And that's why representatives of multiple agencies are here today -- because if we're going to address the needs of Native Americans in a comprehensive way, then we've got to mount a comprehensive response.

A major step toward living up to that responsibility is the presidential memorandum that I'll be signing at this desk in just a few moments. In the final years of his administration, President Clinton issued an executive order establishing regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration between your nations and the federal government. But over the past nine years, only a few agencies have made an effort to implement that executive order -- and it's time for that to change. (Applause.)

The memorandum I'll sign directs every Cabinet agency to give me a detailed plan within 90 days of how -- the full implementation of that executive order and how we're going to improve tribal consultation. (Applause.) After all, there are challenges we can only solve by working together, and we face a serious set of issues right now.

He also discussed how tribes face the same kinds of challenges all of America faces, and how he plans to address those challenges. In closing, he made clear that he is an ally:

So there's a lot of work to be done today. But before we get at it, I want to close with this. I know you've heard this song from Washington before. I know you've often heard grand promises that sound good but rarely materialize. And each time, you're told this time will be different. But over the last few years, I've had a chance to speak with Native American leaders across the country about the challenges you face, and those conversations have been deeply important to me.

I get it. I'm on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I was born to a teenage mother. My father left when I was two years old, leaving her -- my mother and my grandparents to raise me. We didn't have much. We moved around a lot. So even though our experiences are different, I understand what it means to be on the outside looking in. I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten, and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I'm in this White House. (Applause.) All right. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Together, working together, we're going to make sure that the First Americans, along with all Americans, get the opportunities they deserve. So with that, if I'm not mistaken, I am in a position now to start signing this memorandum, and then we're going to do a little Q&A. So get everything set up -- how many pens do you want me to use? Eight pens. (Laughter.) I don't know who's getting the pens, but --

(The memorandum is signed.)

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