Election day is done and there’s been a shift in the direction Washington may take. The Dems fell in many situations. But here’s a report from the Great Falls Tribune recapping what many Native leaders are calling progress made a year after Democratic President Barack Obama called a Native American summit where he instructed federal agencies to work more closely with tribes on a number of wide-reaching policies and programs. A top Native American Affairs adviser tells Tribune reporter Ledyard King the president is committed to continuing the “regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration” with tribes.
That dialogue, fostered by a president who eagerly sought out the Native American vote in 2008, helped ensure that programs specifically tailored for Native Americans were included in the sweeping health care reform bill Congress passed in March. It helped propel final passage in July of a long-awaited Tribal Law and Order Act that will expand tribal authority and federal assistance on reservations wracked by crime. And it helped push the administration to settle an 11-year-old class-action lawsuit, known as the Keepseagle case, in October, so that thousands of Native American farmers and ranchers who were improperly denied access to government aid for years can begin filing for federal compensation.
“This is like night and day,” said Democratic State Sen. Jonathan Windy Boy, a member of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation.