Leader says tribes stronger through self-determination

BY CHRIS CASTEEL Published: January 30, 2010

/> "As they say in Washington, we are taking our rightful place at the table, and we are seeing progress,” he said.

He credited Congress with including tribal needs in national health care legislation and with providing money for tribal projects in the stimulus bill.

Earlier this week, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the new administration had to work last year on some left-over issues in Indian country, including a lawsuit over individual Indian trust funds. A settlement was reached in the case that must be approved by Congress and a federal judge.

The department also has worked on improvements in law enforcement and education, he said.

"We’re working hard on that agenda and making progress,” Salazar said.

Keel took over last year as president of the National Congress of American Indians.



→Reducing the bureaucracy that delays energy development and other business development on Indian lands.

→Giving tribes the same tax status that states and cities have for bonds, pension plans and other financial instruments.

→Fixing the coordination and funding problems that hinder effective law enforcement on Indian land.

→A remedy to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the Interior Secretary doesn’t have the authority to take land into trust for tribes that weren’t under federal jurisdiction before 1934.

To see a related video, go to NewsOK.com and search for "Keel.”

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