Anchorage Daily News: Speaking to 500 people representing 320 Native American tribes, President Obama pledged last month that he wouldn’t forget his campaign promise to give Native communities more of a voice in the White House. “I said that so long as I held this office, never again would Native Americans be forgotten or ignored,” he said. “And over the past two years, my administration, working hand in hand with many of you, has strived to keep that promise.”
For the most part, tribal leaders say the president has been true to his word….”There is this feeling that there is traction, that we’re having a true dialogue,” said Jacqueline Johnson Pata…
Some of the work has been symbolic – Interior Secretary Ken Salazar early in the administration restored the historic painting “Navajos Breaking Camp” in his office, after it had been mothballed during the Bush administration, for example.
But other accomplishments have had more tangible and far-reaching effects on thousands of people, including the settlement of the long-simmering Cobell lawsuit, which compensates thousands of Native Americans whose land was mismanaged while held in trust by the federal government.
There’s the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act … the inclusion of Indian Health Service in the health-care law, and the $3.2 billion in stimulus spending, which went to schools, roads on tribal lands and technology upgrades in some of the poorest and most remote corners of the nation.
…Others point to what they say is a shift in tone from previous administrations. Late in 2010 the administration decided to support a United Nations declaration defending the rights of indigenous peoples. The U.S. voted against the declaration when the U.N. General Assembly adopted it in 2007, arguing it was incompatible with existing laws.
“The reversal of that policy and the support behind that … showcase the U.S. change in policy and what they’re doing are historic,” said Julia Kitka of the Alaska Federation of Natives. “I would put that very much at the top of the list.”
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Thank you Donna