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.”

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