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White House Tribal Nations Conference: Area tribal officials meet with President Obama

From left, Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver, Leech Lake Chairman Archie LaRose and Bois Forte Chairman Kevin Leecy represented area Minnesota tribes at the Nov. 5 White House Tribal Nations Conference with President Barack Obama. Submitted Photo

Leech Lake Reservation Chairman Archie LaRose, Red Lake Chairman Floyd Jourdain Jr., Fond du Lac Chairwoman Karen Diver and Bois Forte Chairman Kevin Leecy were at the White House Tribal Nations Conference Nov. 5 with President Barack Obama.

The conference focused on topics that concern American Indian communities and area tribes.

The conference was held at the Department of Interior. Jourdain was also one of 17 leaders to meet with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in her offices on Nov. 4.

President Obama, who gave opening and closing speeches at the conference, assured tribal leaders they have a place in his White House and on his agenda, emphasizing that their communities deserve more from its government.

"I get it. I'm on your side," Obama told the largest gathering of tribal leaders in U.S. history and the first meeting of its kind in 15 years. The president ordered every Cabinet agency to take steps toward more cooperation.

Concerns included health care, housing, education, economic development, public safety, protecting natural resources

The gathering was an effort of the Obama administration to open a dialogue between tribal nations and the federal government to foster relations and establish communications from a government to government point of view. Obama was fulfilling a campaign pledge to meet annually with Indian Country saying he has no interest in going through the motions of just holding a summit with them. The conference was hosted by Secretary or the Department of Interior Ken Salazar.