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National Congress of American Indians set to open convention






Brian Cladoosby, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, at last year's convention in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Photo © Indianz.Com

With the 2014 election only a week away, the National Congress of American Indians is opening its 71st annual convention today in Atlanta, Georgia.

The event is expected to draw thousands to an urban area not necessarily known for its Indian connections. But tribes from the South and Eastern regions are providing a warm welcome to delegates as they prepare to hear from Obama administration officials on housing, education, health and other issues.

Today's agenda includes Jodi Gillette, the Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs at the White House; Gina McCarthy, the administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency; Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Yvette Roubideaux, the director of the Indian Health Service; and Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is due to deliver a message via video.

Tuesday's highlights include Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and a breakout session on the Blueprint for Reform at the at the Bureau of Indian Education. Tribal leaders will also hold an open discussion about their priorities for the next five years.

On Wednesday, the focus turns to youth with the First Kids 1st Initiative, a task force comprising of NCAI, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, United National Indian Tribal Youth and other organizations. The effort helps support the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative at the White House.

On Thursday, tribal leaders will hear reports on gaming, housing, education, the Indian Child Welfare Act, health, the Native vote and litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The gala banquet takes place Thursday night and the convention will conclude on Friday.