Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 1 February 2012 

2012 State of the Indian Nations Address

“The State of Indian Nations is strong.
Our nations are strong.
 Our peoples are strong.”


 (Also available below: FY 2013 Indian Country Budget Request )

Washington D.C. Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw, is President of the National Congress of America Indians. On Thursday, January 26, Keel presented the Annual State of Indian Nations address at the Newseum, Knight Studios, in Washington. The nationally broadcast speech was presented in front of a packed studio audience which included tribal chairmen and members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

"This may be the best speech he ever made. It was very strong, "said Matt Wesaw, chairman of the Pokagon Potawatomi Indians, based in Dowagiac, Michigan

President Keel spoke for just over 30 minutes to many rounds of applause.

He called upon President Barack Obama to act on these issues for American Indians:

A Nation-to-Nation Relationship with Congress:
   "First, we call on the President to send a Special Message to Congress on the importance of the Nation-to-Nation Relationship. In 1970, President Nixon sent a historic message to Congress on tribal self-determination. That message launched the self-determination era - the very framework that allowed tribes to prove our capacity as governments. All Presidents should do the same."

imageImplement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    "Second, we call on the President to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We specifically call for a review of all existing federal law to ensure they are in alignment with the Declaration."

Veronica Lane
Annual Nation-to-Nation Summit and ongoing high-level meetings

     "Third, we call for an Annual Nation-to-Nation Summit and ongoing high-level meetings. This would institutionalize the current Tribal Nations Summit, a meaningful commitment to our nation-to-nation relationship that must be upheld by all future Presidents. We also call on the President to convene regular meetings on specific issues between tribal leaders and cabinet secretaries."

photo of American Indian girlelevate Native people in the federal government.
     "Fourth, elevate Native people in the federal government. It is past time for qualified Native people to be seated on the federal bench. The appointment of a Senior Advisor on Native American Affairs has advanced policymaking at the White House and we applaud President Obama for his leadership. With the importance of the Indian budget in the coming decade, we urge the creation of an office for Native American programs at Office of Management Budget."

actively engage Indian Country in all candidates' campaigns
     "And finally, we call upon all candidates to actively engage Indian Country in your campaign. We invite each candidate to visit Indian Country to outline your policy positions. We also urge the campaigns to make sure tribal nations are part of the discussion at the Presidential debates."


President Keel discussed the importance of American Indians in the 2012 election process. He invited presidential candidates to campaign in Indian Country.

After President Keel's speech, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) called on American Indians to think in terms of “self-determination; self-governance and self-reliance.”

Following President Keel's address Rep Tom Cole, Chickasaw, offered this statement:

Native people don't see the world in two and four year election cycles. We're focused on building stronger communities for generations to come ... When we step in the ballot box, we want to vote for candidates who will stand with tribal nations to create a strong prosperous future. We are not mobilizing for one party or for one candidate.  Indians don't just vote D for Democrat or R for Republican. For us, it's "I" for Indian." 
House of Representative member, Tom Cole (R-OK)

US Representative Tom Cole

House of Representative member, Tom Cole (R-OK) is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and the only Native American serving in Congress..He was awarded the Congressional Leadership ward by the National Congress of American Indians in 2007 and was inducted in the Chickasaw Hall of Fame in 2004.

Cole's late mother, Helen, is also a member of the Chickasaw Hall of Fame and served as a state representative, state senator and Mayor of Moore in her native state of Oklahoma.
Cole's late father, John, served twenty years in the United States Air Force and worked an additional two decades as a civilian federal employee at Tinker Air Force Base.

Tom and his wife Ellen, have one son, Mason, and reside in Moore, Oklahoma


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