President Obama at previous White House Tribal Conference – Native News Online photo
Published September 26, 2016
WASHINGTON— When President Barack Obama reaches the podium at his final White House Tribal Nations Conference Monday afternoon, tribal leaders who acknowledge the Obama administration has brought positive change to Indian Country will be actively listening to hear what the president has to say about tribal consultation.
The president is expected to address leaders from 567 federally recognized tribes in Indian Country on Monday afternoon at 3:40 p.m.-EDT.
Tribal consultation is an important process to tribes across Indian Country. Adding the word “meaningful” tribal consultation can leave much open to interpretation. What is a meaningful tribal consultation? Sending a staffer from a federal agency who has no comprehension of what happens in Indian Country out to take notes on a laptop is not meaningful tribal consultation.
Three years ago during a tribal consultation in Rapid City, South Dakota, Great Plains tribal leaders walked out because they felt there were no decision makers in the room.They tribal leaders called the state department employees “low level clerks.”
The basis of the lawsuit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was the tribe felt that the Corps did not perform a tribal consultation relating to sacred lands near the Dakota Access pipeline.
On Friday, the Obama administration announced its slate for meetings to discuss government-to-government tribal consultations. Given American Indian tribes are sovereign nations, the government-to-government is makes sense and is completely justified.
“Tribal Leaders from across Indian Country have come together in an unprecedented show of support for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, in the fight to protect their water and cultural places,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby, “So many of our tribal nations have dealt with the same type of issues protecting our natural and cultural resources.”
Tribal leaders will be anxious to hear what the president has to say when he delivers his last speech to them on Monday.