The lines were long and the ballrooms were crowded but Indian Country celebrated late into the night on Tuesday to mark the new administration of President Barack Obama
Over 3,500 people braved cold weather and transit delays
to attend the
11th American Indian
at a Washington, D.C., area hotel.
Just hours after the swearing-in of Obama as the 44th president,
the mood was jubilant, even as talk turned to the future and
what it might hold for the first Americans.
"We're so excited to have Barack Obama as the president of the
United States but what we've got to do now is tell him that
we've got hundreds of presidents and chiefs here, and we've
go to talk to him," said Ernie Stevens Jr., the chairman of
the National Indian Gaming Association
, to loud applause.
Amid a whirlwind of activities in the nation's capitol,
tribal leaders turned the inaugural into a work-session. On Monday,
they heard Interior Department
transition team members promise to make energy, economic development and resolution of the trust debacle among
their top priorities.
With Salazar, a former senator from Colorado, officially on board
after having been confirmed yesterday as a member of Obama's Cabinet, tribes
will be paying close attention to nominees for the
Bureau of Indian Affairs
Office of the Special Trustee
for American Indians
and the National Indian Gaming
They will also watch for potential changes to policies
affecting land-into-trust and gaming, two areas of contention
under the Bush administration.
Though Salazar has promised a new era of
Joe Garcia, the president of the National Congress of American
, urged tribes to do their part to ensure their voices
"My brothers and sisters, we cannot let our guard down,"
he told attendees of the ball. "The minute we do, we will suffer."
For several hours last night, however, partygoers were
focused on enjoying the historic induction of the first
The revelry extended well past midnight.
"Come back later," Nedra Darling, a ball spokesperson and organizer
said. "We'll be going till about 4am."
DC Indian community set for Obama inauguration
Bois Forte Chippewa youth attend inauguration
(1/19) Kevin Abourezk: Be inspired by
(1/16) Billy Mills:
Answering Obama's call to service
(1/16) Rumsey Band donated $50K to Obama inaugural
(1/16) Tribes ask Obama to nominate
Indian federal judges
Briggs: Answering Obama's call to hope
(1/15) Cherokee chief defends Obama inaugural donation
(1/14) Elouise Cobell: Obama must make
trust a top priority
(1/9) Some Cherokee
councilors cancel inauguration trip
(1/8) Two tribes donate maximum for Obama inaugural
(1/7) NMAI to host special events during