Obama Designate Pledges ‘Place at Table’ for Natives

ARLINGTON, Va.—U.S. Secretary of the Interior Designate Ken Salazar pledged that the “first Americans will have their place at the table in the Obama Administration and the Department of Interior” as he addressed tribal leaders at a summit hosted by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA).

“We have some great opportunities yet some major challenges ahead of us,” Salazar told the more than 400 tribal leaders in attendance. “But we will only address those challenges through a spirit of consultation. The Department of Interior will work hand-in-hand with Indian Country to address the challenges of our time. We have to make sure that Native American communities of the United States are never left outside of the tent again,” Salazar said to applause.

“What a way to start 2009 and a new relationship with the incoming Obama Administration,” said NCAI President Joe A. Garcia. “It is encouraging that Sen. Salazar is putting Indian Country’s agenda at the top of his priority list before he even takes the oath of office.”

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