vrijdag 17 december 2010

EEUU: Indígenas y Obama

Obama apoya declaración de derechos indígenas de Naciones Unidas
jueves 16 de diciembre de 2010 19:45 GYT
Por Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - El presidente Barack Obama dijo el jueves que el Gobierno estadounidense apoya la Declaración de Naciones Unidas sobre los derechos de los pueblos indígenas, recibiendo aplausos en una reunión de nativos americanos.

La declaración de la ONU reconoce los derechos de los grupos indígenas, como los nativos americanos, en áreas como la cultura, propiedad y autodeterminación.

Estados Unidos es uno de los pocos países que se había abstenido de apoyar la doctrina en el pasado, pero tras una revisión reciente de la posición del Gobierno, Obama dijo: "Puedo anunciar que Washington brinda su apoyo a esta declaración".

"Las aspiraciones que afirma -incluyendo el respeto por parte de las instituciones y las culturas ricas de los pueblos nativos (...) son de la clase que siempre deberíamos buscar cumplir", declaró Obama en la apertura de una conferencia de naciones indígenas en el Departamento del Interior.

El mandatario agregó que "lo que importa mucho más que las palabras, lo que importa mucho más que cualquier resolución o declaración, son acciones que se ajusten con esas palabras".

Celebrando la decisión, Robert Coulter del Indian Law Resource Center dijo en un comunicado escrito: "La Declaración fija una agenda para que Estados Unidos y las naciones indias diseñen un enfoque razonable para una realización progresiva de los deberes y responsabilidades contenidas en ella".

Obama dijo a la conferencia a la que asisten 500 delegados, incluyendo más de 320 representantes de tribus reconocidas federalmente, que la Casa Blanca dará a conocer posteriormente detalles adicionales sobre el apoyo a la declaración.

(Reporte de Caren Bohan; Escrito por Jerry Norton. Editado en español por Carlos Aliaga)

donderdag 16 december 2010

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (IV)

Date: 12/16/2010
Today, President Obama met with tribal leaders at the White House Tribal Nations Conference. The text below is his address to the audience and includes a statement of support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It's not clear from the president's comments whether the United States will endorse the declaration with reservations, like New Zealand and Canada, or whether it will be whole-hearted. The president promised a full statement to follow.

"I see a lot of friends, a lot of familiar faces in the house. I want to thank all the tribal leaders who have traveled here for this conference. And I also want to recognize all the wonderful members of Congress who are here, as well as members of my Cabinet, including Secretary Salazar, who is doing terrific work here at Interior on behalf of the First Americans and on behalf of all Americans. So thank you very much, everybody.

Yesterday, I had the chance to meet with several tribal leaders at the White House, continuing a conversation that began long before I was President. And while I’m glad to have the opportunity to speak with you this morning, I’m also very eager to see the results of today’s meeting. I want to hear more from you about how we can strengthen the relationship between our governments, whether in education or health care, or in fighting crime or in creating jobs.

And that’s why we’re here today. That’s a promise I’ve made to you. I remember, more than two years ago, in Montana, I visited the Crow Nation -- one of the many times I met with tribal leaders on the campaign trail. You may know that on that trip, I became an adopted Crow Indian. My Crow name is “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.” And my wife, when I told her about this, she said, “You should be named ‘One Who Isn’t Picking Up His Shoes and His Socks’.”

Now -- but I like the first name better. And I want you to know that I’m working very hard to live up to that name.

What I said then was that as President I would make sure that you had a voice in the White House. I said that so long as I held this office, never again would Native Americans be forgotten or ignored. And over the past two years, my administration, working hand in hand with many of you, has strived to keep that promise. And you’ve had strong partners in Kim Teehee, my senior advisor for Native American issues, and Jodi Gillette, in our Intergovernmental Affairs office. You can give them a big round of applause. They do outstanding work.

Last year, we held the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history. And at that conference -- you remember, most of you were there -- I ordered every Cabinet agency to promote more consultation with the tribal nations. Because I don’t believe that the solutions to any of our problems can be dictated solely from Washington. Real change depends on all of us doing our part.

So over the past year my administration has worked hard to strengthen the relationship between our nations. And together, we have developed a comprehensive strategy to help meet the challenges facing Native American communities.

Our strategy begins with the number one concern for all Americans right now -- and that’s improving the economy and creating jobs. We’ve heard time and again from tribal leaders that one of the keys to unlocking economic growth on reservations is investments in roads and high-speed rail and high-speed Internet and the infrastructure that will better connect your communities to the broader economy. That’s essential for drawing capital and creating jobs on tribal lands. So to help spur the economy, we’ve boosted investment in roads throughout the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Reservation Road Program, and we’ve offered new loans to reach reservations with broadband.

And as part of our plan to revive the economy, we’ve also put billions of dollars into pressing needs like renovating schools. We’re devoting resources to job training -- especially for young people in Indian Country who too often have felt like they don’t have a chance to succeed. And we’re working with you to increase the size of tribal homelands in order to help you develop your economies.

I also want to note that I support legislation to make clear -- in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision -- that the Secretary of Interior can take land into trust for all federally recognized tribes. That’s something that I discussed yesterday with tribal leaders.

We’re also breaking down bureaucratic barriers that have prevented tribal nations from developing clean energy like wind and solar power. It’s essential not just to your prosperity, but to the prosperity of our whole country. And I’ve proposed increasing lending to tribal businesses by supporting community financial institutions so they can finance more loans. It is essential in order to help businesses expand and hire in areas where it can be hard to find credit.

Another important part of our strategy is health care. We know that Native Americans die of illnesses like diabetes, pneumonia, flu -- even tuberculosis -- at far higher rates than the rest of the population. Make no mistake: These disparities represent an ongoing tragedy. They’re cutting lives short, causing untold pain and hardship for Native American families. And closing these gaps is not just a question of policy, it’s a question of our values -- it’s a test of who we are as a nation.

Now, last year, at this conference, tribal leaders talked about the need to improve the health care available to Native Americans, and to make quality insurance affordable to all Americans. And just a few months later, I signed health reform legislation into law, which permanently authorizes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act -- permanently. It’s going to make it possible for Indian tribes and tribal organizations to purchase health care for their employees, while making affordable coverage available to everybody, including those who use the Indian Health Service -- that’s most American Indians and native -- Alaska Natives. So it’s going to make a huge difference.

Of course, there are few steps we can take that will make more of a difference for the future of your communities than improving education on tribal lands. We’ve got to improve the education we provide to our children. That’s the cornerstone on which all of our progress will be built. We know that Native Americans are far more likely to drop out of high school and far less likely to go to college. That not only damages the prospects for tribal economies; it’s a heartbreaking waste of human potential. We cannot afford to squander the promise of our young people. Your communities can’t afford it, and our country can’t afford it. And we are going to start doing something about it.

We’re rebuilding schools on tribal lands while helping to ensure that tribes play a bigger role in determining what their children learn. We’re working to empower parents with more and better options for schools for their kids -- as well as with support programs that actually work with Indian parents to give them a real voice in improving education in your communities.

We’re also working to improve the programs available to students at tribal colleges. Students who study at tribal colleges are much less likely to leave college without a degree and the vast majority end up in careers serving their tribal nation. And these schools are not only helping to educate Native Americans; they’re also helping to preserve rich but often endangered languages and traditions. I’d also like to point out last year I signed historic reforms that are increasing student aid and making college loans more affordable. That’s especially important to Native Americans struggling to pay for a college degree.

Now, all these efforts -- improving health care, education, the economy -- ultimately these efforts will not succeed unless all of our communities are safe places to grow up and attend school and open businesses and where people are not living under the constant threat of violence and crime. And that threat remains real, as crime rates in Indian Country are anywhere from twice to 20 times the national average. That’s a sobering statistics -- represents a cloud over the future of your communities.

So the Justice Department, under the leadership of Eric Holder, is working with you to reform the way justice is done on Indian reservations. And I was proud to sign the Tribal Law and Order Act into law, which is going to help tribes combat drug and alcohol abuse, to have more access to criminal databases, and to gain greater authority to prosecute and punish criminals in Indian Country. That’s important.

We’ve also resolved a number of longstanding disputes about the ways that our government has treated -- or in some cases mistreated -- folks in Indian Country, even in recent years. We’ve settled cases where there were allegations of discrimination against Native American farmers and ranchers by the Department of Agriculture. And after a 14-year battle over the accounting of tribal resources in the Cobell case, we reached a bipartisan agreement, which was part of a law I signed just a week ago. We’re very proud of that and I want to thank all the legislators who helped make that happen.

This will put more land in the hands of tribes to manage or otherwise benefit their members. This law also includes money to settle lawsuits over water rights for seven tribes in Arizona, Montana and New Mexico -- and it creates a scholarship fund so more Native Americans can afford to go to college.

These cases serve as a reminder of the importance of not glossing over the past or ignoring the past, even as we work together to forge a brighter future. That’s why, last year, I signed a resolution, passed by both parties in Congress, finally recognizing the sad and painful chapters in our shared history -- a history too often marred by broken promises and grave injustices against the First Americans. It’s a resolution I fully supported -- recognizing that no statement can undo the damage that was done; what it can do is help reaffirm the principles that should guide our future. It’s only by heeding the lessons of our history that we can move forward.

And as you know, in April, we announced that we were reviewing our position on the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And today I can announce that the United States is lending its support to this declaration.

The aspirations it affirms -- including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples -- are one we must always seek to fulfill. And we’re releasing a more detailed statement about U.S. support for the declaration and our ongoing work in Indian Country. But I want to be clear: What matters far more than words -- what matters far more than any resolution or declaration -– are actions to match those words. And that’s what this conference is about. That’s what this conference is about. That’s the standard I expect my administration to be held to.

So we’re making progress. We’re moving forward. And what I hope is that we are seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations. The truth is, for a long time, Native Americans were implicitly told that they had a choice to make. By virtue of the longstanding failure to tackle wrenching problems in Indian Country, it seemed as though you had to either abandon your heritage or accept a lesser lot in life; that there was no way to be a successful part of America and a proud Native American.

But we know this is a false choice. To accept it is to believe that we can’t and won’t do better. And I don’t accept that. I know there is not a single person in this room who accepts that either. We know that, ultimately, this is not just a matter of legislation, not just a matter of policy. It’s a matter of whether we’re going to live up to our basic values. It’s a matter of upholding an ideal that has always defined who we are as Americans. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one.

That’s why we’re here. That’s what we’re called to do. And I’m confident that if we keep up our efforts, that if we continue to work together, that we will live up to the simple motto and we will achieve a brighter future for the First Americans and for all Americans.

So thank you very much. God bless you. Thank you."

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (III)


Obama: Efforts to strengthen Native American communities progressing

By the CNN Wire Staff
December 16, 2010 -- Updated 1546 GMT (2346 HKT)

Washington (CNN) -- Efforts to strengthen Native American communities and improve their relationships with the federal government have already borne fruit, President Barack Obama told a group of leaders from more than 500 federally recognized tribes Thursday.

"We're making progress," Obama said at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, the second of his administration. "We're moving forward. What I hope is, we're seeing a turning point in the relationship between our nations." He said he wants to hear more from tribes about how that can be done, whether it's through supporting education and health care on reservations, combating crime or job creation, "and that's why we're here today."

Leaders of 565 tribes were invited to the conference, the White House said.

The president said his administration has tackled some of the largest issues faced by American Indian communities, helping to create infrastructure, eliminate bureaucratic barriers and boost public health on reservations, where tribal members face rates of diseases like tuberculosis at a far higher rate than the rest of the nation.

The Justice Department, he said, is working to reform the criminal justice system on reservations. The Tribal Law and Order Act, signed by the president in July, contains measures to help fight drug and alcohol abuse on reservations, gives authorities better access to databases and improves opportunities for at-risk Native American youth.

American Indians' history has been "too often marred by broken promises and grave injustices against the first Americans," Obama said. While he acknowledged that no words can undo the damage, he said his administration aims for action to match those words.

Native Americans have been faced with a choice, he said -- abandon their heritage or accept a lesser lot in life.

"We know this is a false choice," he said. "To accept it is to believe that we can't and won't do better, and I won't accept that."

US: American Indians & Obama meet again (II)

More videos to come

US: American Indians & Obama meet again

Secretary Salazar Welcomes American Indian Leaders to Second White House Tribal Nations Conference Discussions with tribal leaders build on President’s commitment to strengthen nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country

Contact: Kendra Barkoff (DOI) 202-208-6416

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar kicked off the Second White House Tribal Nations Conference today, calling the gathering a testament to President Obama’s respect for the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations and determination to honor the Nation’s commitments to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

President Obama hosted the conference – the second he has convened since taking office – and delivered keynote remarks to leaders of the 565 federally recognized tribes in the United States. Members of the President’s cabinet and other high-ranking Administration officials participated in a series of breakout sessions with tribal leaders, discussing a wide range of social, economic and political challenges facing Indian Country.
At the first White House Tribal Nations Conference last year, the President directed Salazar and other cabinet secretaries to work with tribal leaders to develop a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country.
Salazar, whose department carries out the Nation’s principal duties for Indian Country, highlighted the progress that has been made in fulfilling trust management responsibilities, empowering tribal governments and helping them build safer and stronger communities. The Secretary also discussed the significant work remaining in “building a solid foundation for a bright, prosperous and more fulfilling future for the First Americans.”

The full text of the Secretary’s remarks as prepared for delivery is below.
Good morning everyone and welcome to the second White House Tribal Nations Conference!

It is an honor to welcome so many distinguished guests to the Department of the Interior for this special occasion.

Today we are joined by the leaders and representatives from the Nation’s 565 federally-recognized tribes. I know many of you have traveled a great distance to be here. Thank you for coming.

Today we are also joined by seven Members of the President’s Cabinet. It is rare that so many of us are in one place at the same time and it speaks to President Obama’s high-level engagement with and commitment to Indian Country.

There are many people who have put in a lot of work to make this conference happen, and I’d like to take a minute to recognize them:

Kimberly Teehee – Senior Policy Advisor to President Obama
Jodi Gillette – White House Deputy Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Larry Echo Hawk – Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs
Laura Davis –Deputy Chief of Staff, Dept. of the Interior
Kallie Hanley – Special Assistant to the Secretary, Dept. of the Interior
A little over a year ago – at the first ever White House Tribal Nations Conference – President Obama pledged to you that we would work with American Indian leaders to fulfill our trust responsibilities, to empower tribal governments and to help build safer, stronger and more prosperous tribal communities.

We have made great strides toward reaching these goals.

First, we are working to restore tribal homelands. We are breaking the logjam on trust land applications and streamlining the process as part of the most substantial overhaul of the Department’s leasing process in 50 years.

Thanks to the great work of Mike Black, since 2009, the Department has acquired more than 36,000 acres of land in trust on behalf of tribal nations – a 242 percent net increase from the last administration’s entire 8 years.

Moreover, Indian County deserves responsive and responsible business practices as we work to meet our obligations to acquire land into trust for tribes.

One of the most significant developments concerning our trust responsibilities occurred last week when the President signed into law the historic Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

Through the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder and his team, and Deputy Secretary David Hayes and Solicitor Hilary Tompkins here at Interior, we negotiated and achieved enactment of the Cobell settlement.

After 14 years of contentious litigation that included hundreds of motions, seven full trials, held three Interior Secretaries under contempt, and created a great fissure between the United States and tribal nations, this painful chapter in our nation’s history has finally been brought to an end.

The $3.4 billion settlement honorably and responsibly addresses long-standing injustices and demonstrates President Obama’s commitment to reconciliation and empowerment for Indian nations.

The injection of several billion dollars into Indian Country through the settlement has the potential to profoundly change and improve the administration of American Indian trusts and free up land for the benefit of tribal communities. This settlement will also provide new scholarship opportunities for Indian students.

The Cobell settlement marks the beginning of true trust reform and is nothing short of historic.

I would also like to offer a brief comment about the Carcieri decision, a devastating ruling which reverses 75 years of precedent and says that the Federal government cannot take land into trust for Indian Tribes that were not under Federal jurisdiction in 1934. Taking land into trust is one of the most important functions that the Department of Interior undertakes on behalf of Indian tribes. These lands allow tribal communities to practice their cultural traditions, to provide housing for tribal members and engage in economic development. The Obama administration is working overtime to deliver a fix that will restore the authority and allow tribes to continue their important work of restoring their homelands.

Second, the Obama administration is working across the agencies, including the Department of Justice, to help build safer communities.

We must do better to combat violence in Indian Country where crime rates far exceed national averages.

This year President Obama signed into law the Tribal Law and Order Act, which will allow us to accelerate our focus on safe tribal communities.

And thanks to an increase in the President’s 2009 and 2010 budgets, we are putting more law enforcement officers in Indian communities, and improving training and equipment.

We also are revamping the recruiting process for Bureau of Indian Affairs law officers, increasing the number of applicants for those positions by 500 percent - and we have hired more than 100 new officers this year. That’s the largest hiring increase in BIA’s history.

This year we also launched an intense community policing pilot program on four reservations experiencing high crime rates. We are already seeing promising results – a reduction of violent crime by at least 5% - and hope to expand the program in the near future.

Third, the Obama administration is working to build strong, prosperous Native American economies.

This starts with a reenergized commitment to meeting the critical water needs of Native American communities. Just this month President Obama signed landmark legislation on four historic water rights settlements.

These momentous settlements will deliver clean drinking water to the Taos Pueblo and Aamodt case pueblos, including the Pojoaque, Tesuque, San Ildefonso, and Nambe pueblos in New Mexico; the Crow Tribe of Montana, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona.

These settlements will provide more than $1 billion to some of the most poverty-stricken regions in the nation. For these communities, the permanent water supply will vastly improve their quality of life and will offer greater economic security both now and in the future.

The settlements offer a fair resolution to more than 100 years of costly, contentious litigation and end decades of water controversy among neighboring communities.

Administration support for four water rights settlements in a single Congress has never happened before.

Additionally, thanks to the Recovery Act, nearly $3 billion is strengthening tribal communities and putting men and women to work improving tribal roads, schools, and water infrastructure projects.

In addition, we’ve signed nearly 400 contracts to build new roads on tribal lands. That’s an estimated $310 million going into tribal businesses, creating jobs.

These investments will have a lasting legacy. But just as important is the fact that more than 90 percent of the funding is going directly to tribal governments or Buy Indian and commercial contractors who, in turn, hire local workers.

But the Recovery Act is only a piece of the progress we are making on the economy.

We are also working to engage tribal governments in our national energy priorities, including renewable energy development on tribal lands. We know that Tribal lands hold a great capacity for solar, wind and geothermal projects, and we are committed to helping you unlock that potential.

My good friend Energy Secretary Steven Chu is announcing today the establishment of an Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at DOE.

The new office, which will be led by a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, will leverage the Department’s resources to promote tribal energy development.

Fourth, President Obama is working to foster healthy Indian communities through investments in our youth.

Through the Recovery Act, $277 million is being invested in schools to benefit more than 18,000 Indian students.

Nearly a hundred school improvement projects are under way, half of which have already been completed.

And Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, along with Bureau of Indian Education Director Keith Moore and national experts, are heavily engaged in developing a national education reform agenda that will better serve Indian children.

This includes taking steps to bring Native languages and cultures back into the Indian education framework.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs is partnering with Native American youth to create good employment opportunities and build a conservation corps for the 21st century. In 2009, BIA hired 144 youth and – just one year later, through strong outreach and engagement – BIA hired over 1,000 Native American youth that will no doubt be our leaders of tomorrow.

Finally, I will say that critical to all of the initiatives that I have just outlined, is meaningful, structured tribal consultation. Responding to the charge the President gave to us last year, every Cabinet Secretary in this room is working to develop a transparent, comprehensive consultation policy to guide his or her Department’s nation to nation interaction with tribes.

These accomplishments are significant. As one tribal chair and president told me yesterday, President Obama’s administration has done more on tribal issues in less than 2 years than has been accomplished in the last 20 years.

But there is much more work to be done before Native Americans are full and equal partners in our federal family.

And that is why the President has brought us together today for what is the second ever White House Tribal Nations Conference.

We are here today to build on President Barack Obama’s commitment to strengthen the nation to nation relationship with Indian Country.

We are here today to pledge anew our respect for the inherent sovereignty of Indian nations.

And we are here today to honor our commitments to American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The President has directed me, along with the other cabinet secretaries, to work with tribal leaders to develop a comprehensive agenda to reform, restructure and rebuild federal relations with Indian Country.

We are here to do that with you today.

In a few minutes, we will hear remarks from the President.

We will then convene into breakout sessions at which you will be able to have an extensive government to government conversation with me and my Cabinet colleagues.

As I said at the beginning, there is no doubt that much work remains to be done – by all of us.

All phases of our relationship and all major aspects of Indian Country’s social, economic and political development are on today’s agenda and open for discussion.

It is my hope that today provides a venue through which to continue a candid and honest dialogue between and among nations.

Thank you again for coming and for your engagement and commitment.

Together we are building a solid foundation for a bright, prosperous and more fulfilling future for the First Americans.