National | Politics

Audio & Video from White House Tribal Nations Conference

The White House Tribal Nations Conference was held today at the Interior Department in Washington, D.C.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell kicked off the session this morning after an introduction by Jodi Gillette, the Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs at the White House. This is Jewell's first Tribal Nations Conference since joining the Obama administration earlier this year.

Tribal leaders also heard from five more Cabinet secretaries. They were: Secretary Eric Shinseki, Department of Veterans Affairs; Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services; Secretary Anthony Foxx, Department of Transportation; Secretary Ernest Moniz, Department of Energy; and Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice, who was introduced by David Gipp, the president of the United Tribes Technical College in North Dakota.

After the morning remarks, tribal leaders went into breakout sessions on a variety of topics. The sessions were not open to press.

The afternoon session began around 2pm with remarks from two more Cabinet secretaries -- Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Secretary Thomas Perez was unable to attend as scheduled.

The new White House Council on Native American Affairs, which President Barack Obama created by executive order in June, followed with a listening session. Ten tribal leaders, representing a broad cross section of Indian Country, shared some of their major concerns and asked questions directly to Obama administration officials.

After an introduction by Karen Diver, the chairwoman of the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa Indians in Minnesota, Obama delivered final remarks at the conference. He did not make any major policy announcements but he said he will visit Indian Country next year for the first time since taking office in January 2009.

Obama campaigned on reservations and met with tribal leaders during his first run in 2008. He promised to hold annual meetings if elected -- the result being the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

"That’s the unique relationship we honor today," Obama told tribal leaders. "That’s the relationship we're called upon to sustain for the progress of all of our peoples. And while we should be proud of what we’ve achieved together in recent years, we also should be focused on all the work that we still have to do."



Related Stories:
Galbraith and Gillette: Obama hosts tribes at White House (11/13)
Galbraith and Gillette: Agenda for Tribal Nations Conference (11/12)
President Obama hosts tribal leaders ahead of conference (11/12)
President Obama to host White House Tribal Nations Conference (11/6)
White House Tribal Nations Conference in D.C. on November 13 (10/22)