November 04, 2009

Tribal leaders to meet with Obama for summit

On Nov. 5, a number of Washington State tribal leaders will join other representatives of 562 federally recognized tribes from across the country who have been invited to meet with President Obama for the 1st Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference. The purpose of the conference is to facilitate interactive discussions between Obama Administration officials and tribal leaders in the areas of economic development and natural resources, public safety and housing, and education, health and labor. A schedule and a live video feed of the summit can be found here.

Just a few days ago, President Obama signed an official proclamation designating November 2009 as National Native American Heritage Month and November 27, 2009 as the first ever Native American Heritage Day. Obama’s proclamation called upon all Americans to “commemorate this month with appropriate programs and activities.” You can read the entire proclamation here.

I asked Deana Dartt-Newton, curator of Native American ethnology and a member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Nation, what she thought about the proclamation and tomorrow’s summit. Says Deana:

"Not only did Obama acknowledge Tribal concerns during his candidacy, but he's demonstrating in these first months as President, that he aims to prioritize the Nation to Nation relationship and address issues most important to Native people. Obama's October 30th official proclamation of November as Native American Heritage Month, and Nov. 27th as Native American Day might have been viewed as a token gesture, had he not already scheduled a Tribal Summit to hear from representatives from the 562 federally recognized Tribes this Thursday, Nov 5. For the first time in my life, I feel like the leadership of this country is listening to us."

If you’re looking for ways to observe Native American Heritage Month, the Seattle Convention and Visitor’s Bureau has put together a useful guide to Seattle’s Native American Heritage here. We also suggest visiting our current exhibit, on view through Nov. 29, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition: Indigenous Voices Reply, or coming to hear Little Big Band, Swil Kanim, Gene Tagaban (pictured) and other First Native musicians at a lively concert on campus called Tribute to the Spirit on Nov. 20.

Posted by: Julia Swan, Communications