Derek Bailey, the chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, was among dozens of tribal leaders who attended listening sessions at the White House on Monday.
Bailey, who has served on the tribal council since 2004 and as chairman since 2008, said the sessions were just the beginning of an ongoing dialog with the Obama administration. He hailed White House officials for inviting tribes to Washington, D.C.
“Across the table, we saw indigenous faces, those that are from Indian Country, that understand when we speak as leaders from our own upbringing,” Bailey said in an interview yesterday. He called the meeting “inspiring.”
Jodi Gillette (Standing Rock Sioux) and Kim Teehee (Cherokee) from the White House, along with Indian Health Service Director Yvette Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux) and Del Laverdure (Crow) of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, participated in the session that Bailey attended. He said they paid close attention as tribes shared a wide range of concerns.
“Never once did i feel that they were not interested listeners,” Bailey said. “They really were engaged.”
During the session, Bailey talked about regional approaches to providing health care, improving access and use of technology and appointing Native Americans to federal judgeships. He also spoke of the need to have a better understanding of the federal-tribal relationship.
“That is part of the consultative process,” he said. “The more of a cornerstone you have of tribal understanding, the better footed you’ll be.”
Bailey, who met with President Barack Obama in Michigan in July, said he has already noticed a change in atmosphere with the new administration. “From my understanding, there’s a huge turnaround, a very noticeable turnaround, and very much appreciated,” he said of the developing relationship.
During the campaign, Obama promised to hold an annual summit with tribes. The issue was raised yesterday but the White House has not said when the first meeting will occur.
“As Governor, I have had the opportunity to work with Del Laverdure in his role as chief legal counsel to the Crow Nation,” Schweitzer said. “He will be sorely missed in Crow Country and all across Montana.”
Laverdure helped the tribe finalize a water rights settlement with the state and worked with the state to promote the tribe’s coal energy project. He’ll now be working in Washington, D.C., as the top deputy to Larry EchoHawk, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
“Although in his new mission in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Del will bring strong legal expertise in tribal governance and Indian law to the table that can help advance federal Indian policy and further federal-tribal relations across America,” Schweitzer said.
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, July 22, to address tax policy in Indian Country.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana), the chairman of the committee, said the hearing will address three specific issues: the Indian Employment Tax Credit, the tax-exempt bonds for tribal governments and accelerated depreciation for tribes. Witnesses at the hearing include Dante Desiderio, an economic development specialist for the National Congress of American Indians; Del Laverdure, the chief counsel for the Crow Tribe of Montana; and Wayne A. Shammel, the general counsel of Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians in Oregon. The hearing takes place at 10am in Room 215 of the : Senate Dirksen Office Building.
Indian Governments and the Tax Code: Maximizing Tax Incentives for Economic Development (July 22, 2008 )