Secretary Jewell convenes fourth meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs

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Sept. 30, 2014

For Immediate Release

Secretary Jewell convenes fourth meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Sept. 30, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convened the fourth meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, formed by Executive Order of the president, to work more collaboratively and effectively with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders to help build and strengthen their communities. 

Obama Administration cabinet secretaries and senior officials participated in discussions today focused on several core objectives, including reforming the Bureau of Indian Education, promoting sustainable tribal economic development; and supporting sustainable management of Native lands, environments and natural resources. The discussion also included potential additional areas of focus based on consultation with tribal leaders.

The meeting follows Secretary Jewell’s visit to the Navajo Nation last week, where she joined Navajo leaders at a commemorative signing ceremony for a $554 million trust settlement.

Since 2009, this administration has resolved more than 80 tribal trust settlements with federal-recognized tribes, providing more than $2.5 billion in settlements, in addition to the $3.4 billion Cobell settlement of individual Indian trust claims.

“Today’s meeting of the Council is another step toward building upon that relationship by working to better coordinate the resources of the federal government so that tribal nations can more easily cut through red tape and access the tools they need to advance their economic and social goals.”

The council’s subgroup on Indian education highlighted progress to date on the Blueprint for Reform, which was announced via Secretarial Order in June of this year.

The purpose of the Blueprint is to restructure and redesign the Bureau of Indian Education, transforming the agency from solely a provider of education into a capacity-builder and service-provider to tribes that will operate schools. The redesign will help ensure students attending BIE-funded schools receive a high quality education delivered by tribal governments. The subgroup on infrastructure and economic development reported on its efforts to increase tribal sovereignty, remove regulatory barriers to development and support Native entrepreneurs.