President Obama on the Pending Supreme Court Nomination


An excerpt:

But I’m also mindful that there will be cases that reach the Supreme Court in which the law is not clear.  There will be cases in which a judge’s analysis necessarily will be shaped by his or her own perspective, ethics, and judgment.  That’s why the third quality I seek in a judge is a keen understanding that justice is not about abstract legal theory, nor some footnote in a dusty casebook.  It’s the kind of life experience earned outside the classroom and the courtroom; experience that suggests he or she views the law not only as an intellectual exercise, but also grasps the way it affects the daily reality of people’s lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times.  That, I believe, is an essential element for arriving at just decisions and fair outcomes.

Executive Office of the President, OMB Highlights Native Youth Priorities for FY 2017 Budget

Document here.

Support the Implementation ofthe Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) is a federal law that seeks to keep American Indian children with American Indian families. Congress passed ICW A in 1978 in response to the alarmingly high number of Indian children being removed from their homes by both public and private agencies. The intent of Congress under ICWA was to “protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of lndian tribes and families” (25 U.S.C. § 1902). The implementation of ICW A requires support for tribal and state courts, social workers and foster care. ICWA also calls for services that keep families together. These could be family assistance services, home improvement programs, alternatives to incarceration and employment support services. Agencies should focus on programs that support the capacity building and programmatic support necessary to implement ICWA.

Via GJ.

Press Releases and News Coverage from Today’s Presidential Visit to Standing Rock

BIE Plan Improve Achievement Promote Tribal Control EMBARGOED Fact Sheet –

Strengthening Tribal Communities through Education and Economic Development

McCollum Obama Visit to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe


Washington Post


NCAI Press Release on President Visit to Indian Country

NCAI Applauds President Obama’s Historic Visit to Indian Country

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) applauds President Obama for upholding his ongoing commitment to tribal nations and Native peoples by travelling to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation this Friday, June 13. Since taking office, President Obama has remained steadfast in honoring our nation-to-nation relationship. President Obama has kept his commitment to host the annual White House Tribal Nations Summit in Washington D.C. These summits have facilitated unprecedented engagement between tribal leaders and the President and members of his Cabinet.

At the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Summit, the President announced that he would visit Indian Country himself – a longtime priority of tribal leaders. Friday’s visit to Standing Rock fulfills that promise. This historic visit is the first by a sitting President in over 15 years and makes President Obama only the fourth President in history to ever visit Indian Country.

NCAI expects the President to address the economic development needs of tribal nations and the needs of Native youth.  While tribal youth are included in the Administration’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, this Administration has always known that Native children have specific cultural and education needs that require focused attention.

For this reason, Indian Country has witnessed an unprecedented collaboration between the Secretary Jewell at the Department of the Interior and Secretary Duncan at the Department of Education, to study what is necessary to make sure that all of our Native students – in public schools, tribal schools, and Bureau of Indian Education schools have the tools they need to ensure a strong future for all Native children. In 2013, Secretary Jewell visited the Pueblo of Laguna to see first hand how a tribal education department was improving the quality of schools operations, performance and structure of BIE schools. She witnessed a nation that was engaged and excited to participate in efforts to improve educational outcomes in Indian Country.

It will take visits like this – the agencies working together with tribal governments and national organizations such as the NCAI and the National Indian Education Association to ensure that our students can be the future tribal leaders, teachers, health care workers, and entrepreneurs that our nations and the United States need to thrive for generations to come.

The President’s visit builds on ongoing efforts of his Administration to work closely with tribal nations on policy that affects their citizens. We trust the visit will be a catalyst for more policies that will not only succeed today, but cement the positive relationship between tribal governments and the federal government well into the future. President Obama has made annual summits between our nations in his words, “almost routine.” We trust this will be the continuation of his Administration’s engagement with our nations that makes visits to Indian Country by the President and his Cabinet routine too.


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President Obama Op-Ed in Indian Country Today


Op-Ed by President Obama in Indian Country Today

This morning, in an op-ed published in Indian Country Today, President Obama announced his upcoming travel to Cannonball N.D. to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on Friday, June 13. The President will be accompanied by the First Lady in his first visit to Indian Country since taking office.

The following op-ed by President Obama appeared this morning in Indian Country Today:…

Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian Country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana – an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.

Next week, I’ll return to Indian Country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, N.D. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian Country.

As President, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs – to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it.

Together, we’ve strengthened justice and tribal sovereignty. We reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, giving tribes the power to prosecute people who commit domestic violence in Indian Country, whether they’re Native American or not. I signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, which strengthened the power of tribal courts to hand down appropriate criminal sentences. And I signed changes to the Stafford Act to let tribes directly request disaster assistance, because when disasters strike, you shouldn’t have to wait for a middleman to get the help you need.

Together, we’ve resolved longstanding disputes. We settled a discrimination suit by Native American farmers and ranchers, and we’ve taken steps to make sure that all federal farm loan programs are fair to Native Americans from now on. And I signed into law the Claims Resolution Act, which included the historic Cobell settlement, making right years of neglect by the Department of the Interior and leading to the establishment of the Land Buy-Back Program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them to tribal trust lands.

Together, we’ve increased Native Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. One of the reasons I fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act is that it permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to many in tribal communities. And under the Affordable Care Act, Native Americans across the country now have access to comprehensive, affordable coverage, some for the first time.

Together, we’ve worked to expand opportunity. My Administration has built roads and high-speed internet to connect tribal communities to the broader economy. We’ve made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities. We’ve tripled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands, creating jobs and helping the United States become more energy independent. And we’re working with tribes to get more renewable energy projects up and running, so tribal lands can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with it.

We can be proud of the progress we’ve made together. But we need to do more, especially on jobs and education. Native Americans face poverty rates far higher than the national average – nearly 60 percent in some places. And the dropout rate of Native American students is nearly twice the national rate. These numbers are a moral call to action. As long as I have the honor of serving as President, I’ll do everything I can to answer that call.

That’s what my trip next week is all about. I’m going to hear from as many people as possible – ranging from young people to tribal leaders – about the successes and challenges they face every day. And I’ll announce new initiatives to expand opportunity in Indian country by growing tribal economies and improving Indian education.

As I’ve said before, the history of the United States and tribal nations is filled with broken promises. But I believe that during my Administration, we’ve turned a corner together. We’re writing a new chapter in our history – one in which agreements are upheld, tribal sovereignty is respected, and every American Indian and Alaskan Native who works hard has the chance to get ahead. That’s the promise of the American Dream. And that’s what I’m working for every day – in every village, every city, every reservation – for every single American.

President Obama’s Statement on the Passing of Billy Frank Jr.

Office of the Press Secretary
May 5, 2014

Statement by the President on the Passing of Billy Frank, Jr.

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank, Jr. – Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins”. Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago. Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did, and his passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.


Biden and Obama Remarks at VAWA Signing Ceremony

Highlight quote from the President:

Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear. And that is what today is all about.

2:16 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Diane. Thank you. (Applause.) Continue reading

NCAI Release on VAWA Signing Ceremony with Pres. Obama

Violence Against Women Act Signed Into Law;
NCAI Begins Implementation Coordination

NCAI Members join President Obama and Vice President Biden, Members of Congress, and Advocates to Celebrate Passage of Protections for All Women

NCAI’s Creative Commons photos available for use by media

WATCH: YouTube clip of the event

Washington, DC – Native women, tribal leaders, women’s rights advocates, and survivors of domestic abuse joined President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden today, along with members of Congress and the Obama Administration, to celebrate the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Members of NCAI’s Executive Committee joined in celebrating the tribal provisions of the bill enacted into law; President Jefferson Keel, 1st Vice President Juana Majel Dixon and Co-Chair of NCAI’s Task Force on Violence Against Women, Secretary Ed Thomas, and Treasurer Ron Allen. Terri Henry, Co-Chair of NCAI’s Task Force on Violence Against Women, was also in attendance.

Diane Millich, a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe in Colorado, opened the event and introduced Vice President Biden, sharing her story which has been a focus of national media attention since May of last year, and most recently in a New York Times article. Deborah Parker of the Tulalip Tribe of Washington, an active and prominent voice in the VAWA advocacy efforts alongside the NCAI Task Force, also stood on stage during the signing of VAWA.

“Indian Country has some of the highest rates of domestic abuse in America. And one of the reasons is that when Native American women are abused on tribal lands by an attacker who is not Native American, the attacker is immune from prosecution by tribal courts. Well, as soon as I sign this bill that ends,” said President Barack Obama, moments before signing the bill. “Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear. And that is what today is all about.”

“Today represents a historic moment in the nation-to-nation relationships between tribes and the federal government. Now that the tribal provisions have been enacted and protection for all women reauthorized, justice can march forward,” said Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. “Local tribal authorities have much work to do to ensure that our citizens are protected from these violent crimes. NCAI has already begun focusing on coordinating the implementation of VAWA. Today is a great day, because it marks the beginning of justice and the end to injustice that has gone unanswered for too long.”

In addition to programmatic support for Native survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, the law includes constitutionally sound tribal jurisdiction provisions authorizing tribal governments to prosecute non-Indian defendants involved in intimate relationships with Native women and who assault these victims on tribal land. Prior to the enactment of this law, federal laws did not authorize tribal law enforcement or tribal courts to pursue any form of prosecution or justice against these perpetrators.

The legislation was passed in late February by the 113th Congress. Bipartisan support of the Senate version of the legislation, S.47, and the tribal provisions, led to both chambers casting resounding votes of 286 – 138 in the House and 78-22 in the Senate. NCAI released statements of support upon the final House passage of the bill.