NCAI President Jefferson Keel Introduces President Barack Obama at White House Tribal Nations Conference

WASHINGTON—November 5, 2009—National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel (Chickasaw Nation Lieutenant Governor) introduced President Barack Obama today at the first annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. Below are President Keel’s remarks:

“I have a great honor today, and I am humbled to be here on this historic day for Tribal Nations and for our country.  History teaches that failure to include the voices of tribal leaders in formulating policy affecting our communities has all too often led to undesirable and, at times, devastating results, such as federal policies that led to allotment of our lands, termination of tribal governments, and relocation of our families to urban areas.

By contrast, where dialogue with Indian nations had a meaningful role in the policy making process, we have enjoyed greater opportunities and have been better able to address important challenges. This dialogue is a critical ingredient of a sound and productive federal-tribal relationship.

I believe this is why tribal leaders have responded to the person I am about to introduce. He campaigned on the promise of greater engagement with Indian Country. President Barack Obama has recognized that our union will be more perfect when the Indian Nations are respected as they were by the founding fathers in our Constitution.President Barack Obama understands that our brightest future lies in strong Nation-to-Nation relationships.

Here, at the beginning of a historic U.S. Presidency, we have the opportunity to meet with him and renew the promise of our democracy once more. It is my extraordinary honor to introduce President Barack Obama.”

Published by Traci L. Morris

Dr. Morris, the Director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University is a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. Under her leadership, the AIPI has grown and diversified its service to Indian Country via an MOU formalizing a long-standing partnership with the Native American Finance Officers Association (NAFOA) and forming the Tribal Economic Leadership Program offering training in Tribal Economic Governance and Tribal Financial Management; access to Entrepreneurship training and tribal business support through Inno-Nations; and Economic Development Consulting; and, the formalization of the Institute via by-laws and an advisory board comprised of both internal ASU leadership and external tribal and non-tribal leadership. In her work at both ASU and prior, Morris has worked with Native American tribes; Tribal businesses; Native American non-profits; Native media makers, artists, and galleries; written a college-accredited curriculum in Native American new media; and has advocated for digital inclusion at the Federal Communications Commission and on Capitol Hill. Morris’s research and publications on Native American media and the digital divide is focused on Internet use, digital inclusion, network neutrality, digital and new media curriculums, digital inclusion and development of broadband networks in Indian Country. Her book, Native American Voices: A Reader, continues to be a primary teaching tool in colleges throughout the country. Dr. Morris is Affiliated Faculty at ASU's School for the Future of Innovation in Society, an Affiliate of ASU's Center for Gender Equity in Science and Technology, a Senior Sustainability Scholar at the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, President of the Board of the Phoenix Indian Center, Board member of the Arizona American Indian Chamber of Commerce, and on the Advisory Council of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries and Museums. Formerly, Morris served member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Labor's Native American Employment and Training Council and served a two-year appointment (2014-2016 and 2010-2012) on the Federal Communications Commission's Consumer Advisory Committee. As an entrepreneur prior to her ASU appointment, Morris founded Homahota Consulting LLC, a national Native American woman-owned professional services firm working in policy analysis, telecommunications, education, and research assisting tribes in their nation-building efforts and working with Native Nations, tribal businesses and those businesses working with tribes. Morris has an M. A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies, in addition to a B.A. in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University.

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