Scconners Thompson Tribal Leaders Conf2014
Scconners Thompson Tribal Leaders Conf2014

2014 Tribal Nations Conference

Dec 10, 2014

Six years ago, President Obama held an historical event, the first ever White House Tribal Nations Conference. This conference has become an institution where Tribal leaders come together to work with the Administration to impact real change in Indian Country. Several hundred Tribal leaders and members of Congress were in attendance, and President Obama shared his commitment to ensuring the core principle that we are equal under the law.

Representing the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe was Sub-Chief Eric Thompson and Sub-Chief Michael Conners. “Our agenda throughout the week included sessions on taxation, sovereignty, environment, health, agriculture and key sessions with members of Congress and the Senate. As Tribal leaders, we recognize it is imperative to speak on behalf of Mohawk interests and reinforce our strategic priorities, including land claims and our educational priorities. On behalf of Indian Country, our participation on the White House Tribal Nations conference is necessary to ensure meaningful dialogue with Indian Country and build momentum within the government to institute change through recognition of our sovereignty as a distinct people, through one voice. Sub-Chief Michael Conners and I were honored to represent Akwesasne at the Tribal Leader Conference in Washington, DC,” commented Sub-Chief Eric Thompson.

During the President’s speech, he recounted his experiences with Native communities while in office, and expressed the need to strengthen the trust and accountability between Natives, particularly the youth. Sharing a story about his recent visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota, the President remarked, “Some of the kids were carrying burdens no kid should carry,” and shared stories he heard first hand from teenagers struggling for survival and suicide rates on the reserve.

President Obama addressed his commitment to Indian Country and addressed issues the administration has made progress in, including giving more power to tribal courts and police, restoring tribal trust lands, permanently re-authorizing the Indian Healthcare Improvement Act, speeding up the process for businesses signing leases in Indian Country, building roads, expanding high speed internet access and moving forward on renewable energy projects. He stated the administration has delivered justice that has been long overdue by resolving legal disputes that have dragged on for decades and worked to “untie hands when it comes to dealing with domestic violence.”

The President closed his comments by reinforcing his directive to every member of his cabinet to sit down with Native youth to hear first-hand their issues and concerns. He discussed continued progress in education and announced next year’s plans to hold the first ever Tribal Youth Gathering, “Generations Indigenous”. The Administration has budget plans to continue investing in schools, promoting economic growth, climate change, housing, protecting tribal resources and sacred lands for future generations. He closed his remarks by stating he is “fighting to meet obligations to your Nations.”

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