NCAI opens 65th annual convention in Arizona
Update: Sen. Obama provided a video message today.

The National Congress of American Indians opened its 65th annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona, on Monday.

A press conference highlighted homeland security and border issues in a state that is home to two tribes with reservations along the U.S.-Mexico border. "Tribes simply are not getting homeland security funds they need from the federal government," said NCAI President Joe Garcia.

Leaders of the Tohono O'odham Nation said they don't receive enough money to patrol the reservation and the crime and drugs that come across the border "This is a federal government problem and it needs a federal government solution," said Chairman Ned Norris Jr.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne spoke to attendees yesterday and said the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget includes money for law enforcement in Indian Country. “We are proposing more than $26 million for this initiative in the 2009 budget currently before Congress, resulting in a cumulative investment of more than $50 million over two years," he said.

The convention continues today with video messages from Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) and Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois). Both presidential candidates were invited to attend NCAI.

In addition to convention activities, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Colorado and the U.S. Attorney's Office in South Dakota are working with the BIA to provide free criminal justice training to tribal, state and local law enforcement officers in Phoenix. "Improving public safety in Indian Country means thinking 'outside the box' to bring tribal, state and local leaders together in practical criminal justice training classes like this," said U.S. Attorney Troy Eid of Colorado.

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Sen. McCain to deliver video message at NCAI (10/15)
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NCAI heads to Arizona for 65th annual convention (10/7)