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Getting the ear of the President

President Obama met with tribal leaders ahead of the White House Tribal Nations Conference in November
Confederated Salish and Kootenai vice-chair of the Tribal Council Carole Lankford listens in as President Barack Obama meets with a group of tribal leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, November 12. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)Confederated Salish and Kootenai vice-chair of the Tribal Council Carole Lankford listens in as President Barack Obama meets with a group of tribal leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, November 12. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ahead of his remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama met with a dozen tribal leaders to discuss job creation and economic development in tribal communities on November 12. Also participating in the meeting were Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muρoz, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew.

This meeting provided tribal leaders an opportunity to directly engage with the President on a leader-to-leader, government-to-government basis and to discuss key issues facing Indian Country at the highest level of Government. During the meeting, tribal leaders in attendance raised a wide range of important issues they are facing related to job creation, including expanding opportunity for renewable energy on tribal lands, increasing access to capital and foreign direct investment opportunities in Indian Country, the successes of tribal self-determination, improving educational outcomes, and jurisdictional challenges.

The twelve tribal leaders that participated in the meeting were:
   • Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma
   • Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe of Minnesota
   • Leonard Forsman, Chairman, Suquamish Tribe of Washington
   • Joe Garcia, Governor, Ohkay Owingeh of New Mexico
   • Ray Halibritter, Nation Representative and CEO, Oneida Indian Nations of New York
   • Carole Lankford, Vice Chairwoman, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana
   • Rex Lee Jim, Vice President, Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah
   • Chris McNeil, CEO, Sealaska of Alaska
   • Rosemary Morillo, Chairwoman, Soboba Band of Luiseρo Indians of California
   • Terri Parton, President, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Oklahoma
   • Terry Rambler, Chairman, San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona
   • Robert Shepherd, Chairman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of South Dakota

The meeting kicked off a week of events hosted by the White House Council on Native American Affairs in its continued efforts to strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations. The President hosted tribal leaders invited from all 566 federally recognized tribes at the fifth consecutive White House Tribal Nations Conference, where tribal leaders will engage with the President, members of his Cabinet and other Senior Administration Officials. The membership of The White House Council on Native American Affairs hosted several other meetings and listening sessions to coincide with the Tribal Nations Conference.

Charlie Galbraith is an Associate Director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. Jodi Gillette is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

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