Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 28, 2011

White House: Obama not expected at White House sessions with Native Americans

President Obama not expected at White House meetings Wednesday and Thursday for Native American leaders

By Brenda Norrell, copyright
Censored News

The White House told Censored News that President Obama is not expected to meet with Native American leaders at the White House during sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, in advance of Friday's White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Interior building.
In response to questions by Censored News, the White House said, "In addition to the Tribal Nations Conference itself, each federally recognized tribe has been invited to attend a briefing and listening session with Senior Administration Officials at the White House. These sessions have been arranged by region and are closed press. The President is not expected to participate."
All 565 federally-recognized Indian Nations have been invited to send one representative to the conference on Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, at the Interior building.
Three years ago, when President Obama announced the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Obama said it was an invitation and welcome to all American Indian leaders to come to the White House. However, he then changed the location of the session to the Interior building. Further, Obama only gave a speech, answered some questions, and left the conference.
Then, last year, in 2010, Obama met with a small group of Native American leaders at the White House in advance of the conference. There was no prior announcement, or information on how those leaders were selected. The majority, including Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara President Tex Hall, and others represent tribes who are pushing for more coal fired power plants or oil and gas drilling on sacred lands. Further, the Navajo and Crow are among those who have entered into deals with state or federal governments to give up their peoples water rights.
Although the White House announced meetings for Wednesday and Thursday for regional representatives at the White House this week, no further information was provided until today when the White House responded to Censored News.
Back home on Indian lands, the elected Indian government leaders are often referred to puppet governments, formed by the US government.
John Kane, Mohawk, told Censored News that those "leaders" attending are "BIA puppets," and nothing meaningful will come out of this event.
"This is such a farce. If the entire six hour event was about direct access with the president, it would work out to less than 40 seconds per 'tribal leader.' Most of these guys are such figure heads and BIA puppets that their biggest concern will be to get their pictures taken. Nothing meaningful could possibly come from such an event."
"Ninety-five percent of the Native people in the room will be left out, if there are any 'discussions' at all," Kane said.
Alex White Plume, Lakota on Pine Ridge in South Dakota, also points out that the voices of the people at home are never heard.
"Obama is meeting with the tribal councils. They represent the modern colonized form of government. The real Lakota are home and never get heard. Our issue of Treaty violation is never bought up. This all sounds good, except it does not represent the Treaty Lakota."
The White House said in its announcement that no assistance will be given with travel. If all 565 Indian Nations attend, the cost will easily exceed a total of $1 million for Indian Nations.
Native Americans are asking both Obama and Native American leaders if these sessions are for more political grandstanding and photo ops, or if they will result in real change for Indian country.

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