Obama Speaks at 2013 Tribal Nations Conference

The president stresses the importance of ensuring opportunities for Native Americans.
3:00 | 11/13/13

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Transcript for Obama Speaks at 2013 Tribal Nations Conference
Every -- -- is another thing. -- Thank you -- -- for the kind introduction. Couple of people -- wanted to introduce or at least acknowledge first of all given up our outstanding. News secretary of the enters Sally Jewell. We're joined by several other members of my cabinet. Which reflects how much. My administration values your partnership. The partnership with your communities. I want to thank the members of congress -- here. -- wanna give. Also a special shout out to. One of my closest advisors. One of my oldest friends but he's also. A great friend to all of you. And he doesn't get a lot of credit because he hates credit. You just likes to work behind the scenes but he worked with many -- -- When he worked in the senate. He has been a key advisor on. Native American affairs for me throughout this process. And I could not be proud of him mr. Pete -- so good. -- -- most of all want to thank all of you. Especially the tribal leaders who are here today and I understand actually we've got more tribal leaders here -- we ever have at any of these counts and so it just keeps on grown each year. He -- that more than 300. Tribal nations. Each of you would your own extraordinary heritage each a vital part. -- shared American family. And as state proud adopted member of the -- nation let me say. Got -- get. Welcome. 222 all of now. After I became president. I said that given the painful chapters and broken promises and -- shared history. I'd make sure this country kept its promises to you. I promise the tribal nations would have a stronger voice in Washington. But as long as I was in the White House it would be your house and for the past five years my administration's worked hard to keep that promise. To build a new relationship with -- based on trust and respect. And this new relationship. Wasn't just about learning from the past it was also about the here -- now recognizing. The contributions that your communities. Make him rich in the United States every single -- Native Americans are doctors and teachers and business men and women. Veterans and service members and they get up every morning and help make America stronger and more prosperous and more just. And I want to build on our true government to government relationship as well. So I'm proud to have native Americans serving with dedication and my administration. Including assistant secretary of the interior for Indian affairs Kevin Washburn. Took -- nation. My senior advisor for native American affairs. Jodi Gillette the standing rock Sioux tribe. Our governmental affairs office we've got Charlie Galbraith Navajo Nation. And I look forward to it. So so that they work so incredibly hard to make this conference possible. And I look forward to it every year. You know I had the privilege of some of you coming -- the White House yesterday. As we made clear in the executive order earlier this year that established the white house council on native American affairs. We have a unique legal and political relationship. One that's been affirmed many times and treaties and statues. And in the constitution. That's the unique relationship we honor today that's the relationship were called upon to sustain. For the progress of all of our people's. And while we should be proud of what we've achieved together in recent years. We also should be focused on all the work that we still have to do. I know we've got members of the iroquois nations here today and I think we could learn from. Your record confederacy this -- our founding fathers did when they laid the ground work for our democracy. That the -- -- -- their network of alliances with other tribes -- European nations covenant -- Each link represented a bond of peace and friendship. But that covenant chain didn't sustain itself it needed constant care so that would stay strong and and that's what were called to do. To keep the covenant between us for this generation and for future generations. And then there for areas in particular where I think we need to focus first. Let's keep our -- strong by strengthening Justin's justice and tribal sovereignty. You know we've worked with -- -- in good faith to resolve longstanding disputes like. Establishing the -- buyback program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them. To tribal trust lands. We've reauthorize the violence against women act so tribes can prosecute those who commit domestic violence in Indian country -- the native American. I signed changes to the staff -- to let tribes directly request disaster assistance. Because when disasters like floods or fires strike. You should have to wait for -- -- to get the help -- But there's more we can do to return more control your communities and that's why I'm urging congress to reauthorize. The native American housing assistance and self determination act because your communities know -- affordable housing needs better than Washington. It's why will keep pushing congress to pass the -- Jerry facts. So that more tribal nations could put the land and the federal trust. And we've heard loud and clear your frustrations when it comes to the problem of being fully reimbursed by the federal government. For the contractor services you provide -- -- keep working with you when congress to find a solution. That's all going to be. Part of making sure that were. Respecting. The nation to nation relationship. Now second. We've got to keep our -- strong by expanding opportunity for native Americans. We've created jobs building new roads and high speed Internet. Internet to connect more of your communities to the broader economy. We've made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities but the fact remains native Americans face poverty rates that are higher. By far than the national average that's more than a statistic that's moral called action we've got to do better. So I said to some view that I met with -- yesterday growing our economy creating new jobs is my top priority. We've got to stop the self inflicted wounds in Washington. Because for many troubled nations this year's harmful sequester cuts in last month's government shutdown made -- tough situation. Worse. Your schools your police department's child welfare offices are all feeling the squeeze. That's why I'm fighting for a responsible budget invests in the things that we need in order to grow. Things like education and job training affordable housing and transportation. Including four native American communities. We're gonna work to make short native American owned businesses have greater access to capital. And the selling their goods overseas. We're got to build the economy. Create more opportune. Number three we've got to keep our covenants from a making sure native Americans have access to equality -- -- helped her dislike your materials. That's -- -- reads we fought hard to pass before Boca. We're working overtime to make sure the law works the way it's poster. For native Americans this means more access to conference of affordable coverage. It permanently re authorizes the Indian health care improvement act which provides care to so many in your communities. And let me just give you one example of how this laws -- working for tribal nations thanks -- -- -- The pure -- tribal. Health authorities. In Washington State created it country's first tribal family medicine residency program. Patients are cared for in a culturally sensitive way often by native American staff and we're seeing results. Young physician caring for Revere tribal -- A Doctor Who has delivered babies in the community for years and now his son is also during the same. You know and and that's creating more quality health care but also sustaining bonds between generations. That's progress that we need to bill. In the fourth that are that we've got to work on his let's keep our -- strong by being good stewards of native homelands which are sick reviewing your friends. And I saw the beauty of pro agencies Montana when I was -- candidate for this office next year -- make my first trip to Indian Country as president. That. Okay. The help of tribal nations depends on the help of tribal lands so -- falls -- almost to protect. The extraordinary beauty of those lands for future generations. And already many of your -- felt the impacts of -- changing climate including more extreme flooding and droughts. That's why as part of the climate action plan I announced this year. My administration is partnering with you to identify where -- lands are vulnerable to climate change how we can make them more -- And working together we want to develop. Energy potential. Of tribal lands in a responsible way -- in accordance with tribal wished. Over the last four years we've more than doubled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands a big reason why the United States is now more energy independent. So we're working with trucks to get more renewable energy projects like solar and wind up and running. Your lands -- your economies can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with. So standing up for justice and tribal sovereignty increasing economic opportunity. Expanding quality health care protecting native homelands. This is the foundation we can build as the progress that we can make to -- We don't have to look far for inspiration. Some you know Monday obviously was veterans day a time daughter. All. Toward America's. And -- one here is proud that native Americans have such a high enlistment rate in our military. And we've seen received generations of patriotic native Americans who served with honor -- courage. We draw strength from the Navajo. Code talkers. -- skill helped win the Second World War. We draw strength from Woodrow Wilson -- -- many years after his death was finally awarded the medal of honor for his heroism. In the Korean War. We draw strength from. I don't want to make sure I get this right Laurie. -- -- -- during the Iraq War was the first known native American woman to give her life in combat. For the United States. And we draw strength from all our men and women in uniform today including two pilots -- rely on when I step on the marine want. Major Paul to soak up from the -- all Scott nation. And major -- Jones these are -- That. And those guys are Karen me around keeping -- -- So. So on this veterans day week even though it's technically not -- inspect. I want to ask all the veterans in the audience including. Several legendary Navajo code talkers were here. If you can please stand. Except our gratitude. For generations. These men and women have helped keep our covenants wrong so now we've got to keep strong what -- -- For this and generations to come. It falls to us. To keep America the place where no matter. Where you come from what you look like. You can always make it. Has logged -- -- laws you work hard and I know that that's what all of you are working hard. That's what you represent. As leaders of the communities. That are. Represented here from coast to coast. I want you know that's what I'm working for that the partnership that I church -- -- -- church as long as I had the honor of serving as. Your presence so thank you god bless you. God bless the United States.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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