President Begaye calls for the continuation of strong Nation-to-Nation relationships at the White House Tribal Nations Conference

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office

For Immediate Release

President Begaye calls for the continuation of strong Nation-to-Nation relationships at the White House Tribal Nations Conference 

WASHINGTON—President Russell Begaye met with and expressed his thanks to President Barack Obama in the progress the Obama Administration has made in building strong stable relationships with tribal nations. President Begaye urged President Obama to memorialize these relationships as part of his administration’s legacy to Native people and also invited President Obama to visit the Navajo people and the Navajo lands.

“President Obama’s administration has made significant advances in Native American policy, and we are hopeful there is still much more that can be accomplished in his final year in office. We applaud his work with Native youth and the Generation Indigenous initiative, and the advancement of the Violence Against Women Act provisions for jurisdiction over all domestic violence perpetrators. We look forward to continuing to work with him on issues such as regaining our inherent jurisdiction over all our lands including our subsurface resources as well as working with his administration to completely and adequately address the Gold King Mine spill. He has worked well with Native Nations and we invite him to visit the Navajo Nation,” President Begaye said.

President Begaye joined tribal leaders and Native youth ambassadors this week at the seventh annualWhite House Tribal Nations Conference held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Also attending the conference from the Navajo Nation was Shaundeen-bah and Zunneh-bah Martin from Tohatchi, New Mexico, Blossom Johnson from Black Mesa, Arizona and Sierra Simpson from Sawmill, Arizona. President Begaye congratulated them on their selection as White House Youth Ambassadors and was proud to see Navajo youth participating in the conference.

Earlier this summer, President Begaye and Vice President Nez signed a proclamation celebrating and honoring Native youth. These White House Native Youth Ambassadors represent the future of Indian Country in building global citizens and ambassadors. 

President Begaye co-moderated two panels at the conference. The first was titled Protecting and Advancing Nation-to-Nation Relationships: Tribal Sovereignty, Self-Governance, and Self-Determination panel discussion. The discussion covered a broad range of areas and included federal agency representatives. The panel included representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, the Department of Treasury, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. 

“The Nation-to-Nation relationship between the federal government and the tribal governments is a very important relationship that recognizes tribes on an equal level, provides mutual respect, and provides a mechanism for both the federal government and tribal government to tackle the problems and issues with Native people and their lands,” President Begaye told the panel.

President Begaye also co-moderated the Strengthening Tribal Economies Breakout session Thursday and discussed economic development and infrastructure in Indian Country. The panel included representatives from the Community Development Financial Institution program, the Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Small Business Administration, and the Social Security Administration.

President Begaye also participated in a listening session on taxation issues hosted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.

President Begaye urged the committee to end state taxation in Indian country, to allow the declaration of tax free zones, allow the continuation of Section 17 corporations. He also called for the creation of incentives and support for Indian country to develop renewable energy and incentives for companies to buy this renewable energy.

The president also urged the panel to keep the Indian Employment Tax Credit, Indian Coal Production Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation and New Markets Tax Credit, which are all important to the Navajo Nation.

“These changes in law will go a long way to assisting Indian Country by removing obstacles in the development of tribal economies. Not only will this advance Indian Country’s economies but it will also fuel local economies throughout the United States,” said President Begaye.