Details On White House Tribal Nations Conference - 5 November 2009


President Barack Obama will host a White House Tribal Nations Conference  on November 5, 2009 from 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., with leaders of all 564 federally recognized Tribes invited.  Each federally recognized Tribe can send one representative; it is unclear whether Tribes that do not yet have federal recognition can attend. Indian Country Today reports that the meeting will be held at the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium of the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C..

“I look forward to hearing directly from the leaders in Indian country about what my administration can do to not only meet their needs, but help improve their lives and the lives of their peoples,” Obama said. “This conference will serve as part of the ongoing and important consultation process that I value, and further strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship.”

W. Ron Allen, a member of the executive board of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, said the White House would have been a more impressive setting, but believes it’s important to hold the meeting in an environment that will be conducive to constructive dialogue. Allen emphasized that Tribal leaders expect to be able to present their views and receive specific answers and policy outlines from the President. “We do not want this to be a photo op.”

Allen said many NCAI members want the President to begin showing action on campaign promises to advance self-determination, self-governance and self-reliance for all 564 American Indian and Alaska Native nations. “We are hopeful that he will reaffirm and strengthen his administration’s commitment to the ‘government-to-government’ relationship including clear instruction to all departments and agencies under his executive authority,” Allen said.

MyTribeTV, a Native-owned business in Seattle, will provide online coverage of the conference. The event will be streamed at

NCAI Speaks Out On Tribal Embassy Purchase

W. Ron Allen

John Dossett

In response to recent coverage regarding the planned $8.5 Million purchase of an office complex to serve as a Tribal Embassy in Washington D.C., representatives of the National Congress of American Indians contacted Native American Legal Update to offer the organization’s perspectives.

NCAI General Counsel John Dossett:

“This is a smart economic move for NCAI and for Indian country. NCAI has been renting space in DC since 1951. It is very expensive, year after year. Ownership makes sense for a long term organization. Right now the real estate market is down in DC so it is a good time to buy. Our monthly mortgage payments will be less than current rent, and we will have twice as much space some of which we can sublease. We will work to retire the debt, then NCAI's costs will be much less and we can provide more services to tribes. More advocacy is an investment in Indian Country's future. (NCAI just helped to secure 2.5 billion in funding for Indian country infrastructure through the stimulus bill.) NCAI is also planning to co-locate with our sister Indian organizations, so the plan is to help out all kinds of tribal advocacy in Washington. This is part of NCAI's plan to become more economically self-sufficient so that we can provide the advocacy services to Indian country no matter what the economic climate is. NCAI President Tex Hall started this capital campaign in 2004, and it is a good plan for the economics of NCAI and tribal advocacy in Washington, DC.”

W. Ron Allen, NCAI Delegate and Tribal Chairman/Executive Director of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe:

“I absolutely agree with John Dossett regarding that this project is a great move by NCAI. What makes people think that because we are in a recession it is a bad time to buy. It's actually a great time to buy if your financial situation is strong, particularly because it is during these down turns in the realty business that you can negotiate a great price. That opportunity is what NCAI was able to capitalize. NCAI has continued to grow in its capacity to serve Indian Country and it Tribal membership and has an urgent need to expand it office space needs to accommodate that growth. NCAI has been generating a great deal of financial commitments from its membership because of its vision of finally owning it own Embassy in Washington, DC where the politics significantly affect the rights and interests of the 562 Tribes across America. I have personally been extensively involved in this initiative for over 20 years including when I was the President of NCAI (1995-99). Our time has finally come and I am confident that not only will we secure this facility, but retire the debt on a rapid schedule.

Indian Country has a right and even a duty to have a physical presence in America's Capital to remind the US political leadership of their obligations and commitments to the American Indian and Alaska Native peoples of this nation. AND on a practical note, I want to underscore the fiscal stewardship of the funds NCAI receives from its membership, we must use the funds to own our office assets instead of benefiting some landlord in DC.”