Pacific Northwest tribes conclude conference

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians (ATNI) concluded its winter conference last week, passing 23 resolutions affecting the environment, sacred sites, education, health care, housing, technology, veterans, reservation roads and Medicaid reform.

�The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians is devoted to the pursuit, protection and recognition of sovereignty and self determination,� said ATNI president Ernie Stensgar, who is chairman of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe. �It is also devoted to the health and well-being of Native people throughout the Northwest, and to the development of meaningful and positive relationships between tribes and the non-Indian community.�

Some of the resolutions will be submitted to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). The organization is holding its winter session in Washington, D.C., February 28-March 2.

Stensgar said one ATNI resolution supports legislation to require the teaching of tribal history in public schools. One such measure is pending in Washington state.

�For far too long, children have been allowed to think that the history of civilization on this continent began with Columbus a half century ago,� said Stensgar. �The truth is that civilization is tens of thousands of years old here, and it is important for kids to learn about it.�

Other resolutions demand the protection of sacred sites, including the Tse-whit-zen Village, a massive ancient village recently uncovered in Washington. ATNI supports the Lower Elwha S�Klallam Tribe�s quest for short- and long-term protection, preservation and restoration of the site.

�This is the type of situation that brings tribes together and unites our efforts,� said Stensgar. �Tribes throughout the Northwest will always stand together for Indian rights and heritage.�

Resolutions were brought by tribal delegates from throughout the Northwest, considered in committee and passed by an estimated 400 tribal representatives from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana, Nevada and Northern California. They call for adequate funding for Indian programs, tribal consultation during the Medicaid reform process and protection of salmon and wildlife.

ATNI, which is based in Portland, was founded in 1953 and currently represents 54 tribal governments. It provides a forum for the exchange of information and ideas among tribes and a vehicle to support government-to-government interactions with state and federal agencies.

Relevant Links:
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians -

Related Stories:
Pacific Northwest tribes oppose expansion of OST (2/9)
BIA budget cut by $110M for fiscal year 2006 (2/9)
Pacific Northwest tribes gathering in Portland (2/7)
Makah Nation halts fishery after large catch (2/4)
Northwest tribes to discuss historic cemetery (2/2)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe tells panel of racism (01/20)
Bush administration to reduce protections for salmon (12/01)
Two-word change to NAGPRA pending in Senate (10/01)
Tribes oppose OST expansion into Indian County (5/22)