"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.