Navajo Vice President Stresses Protection of Indian Budgets to the White House

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Contact: Jared King
Communications Director
Navajo Nation Washington Office
Tel 202.682.7390
Cell 202.200.0625

For Immediate Release

Navajo Vice President Stresses Protection of Indian Budgets to the White House

WASHINGTON—Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim told administration officials on Dec. 5 at the fourth White House Tribal Nations Conference that Indian budgets should be held harmless in any budget cuts that the federal government makes as it attempts to rectify the fiscal problems of the country.

“The Navajo Nation has consistently argued that Indian country should be held harmless in the face of uncertainty,” Vice President Jim said.

Vice President Jim also thanked President Obama and his administration for their continued dialogue with tribal nations.  

“This is an opportunity for Indian country to have one-on-one discussions with decision-makers in Washington in the hope that the needs of Indian country are effectively represented in policy initiatives and in budget negotiations of the federal government,” Vice President Jim said.

Speaking at the closing portion of the conference, President Obama said he is committed to getting the nation-to-nation relationship right. “No one has to live under the cloud of fear or injustice,” President Obama said.

During his speech, President Obama touted the appointments of Native Americans to the administration and to the White House, and focused on justice and tribal sovereignty, the long-standing legal dispute of Cobell, and the signing of the Tribal Law and Order Act. President Obama urged Congress to pass the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization to bring to justice Indians or non-Indians who hurt Indian women.

“We are pushing Congress to pass the Carcieri legislation,” President Obama added. The president mentioned stepping up support for tribal colleges and universities, and strengthening tribal health care to make it more accessible to tribal citizens.

In closing, President Obama said, “Congress needs to expand support for Native American small businesses. I’ve never been more hopeful about our chances.”

President Obama also said expanding economic opportunities for Native Americans is one of his priorities. Developing a sustainable economy that creates a path to prosperity is a priority of the Navajo Nation.

“The Navajo Nation wants to work with the federal government to streamline the multi-agency jurisdictions, rules, and regulations it routinely encounters in economic and social development. This will bring jobs and capital investment to the Navajo Nation that will allow us to be self-sufficient and develop a sustainable economy that reduces the federal financial burden over the long run,” Vice President Jim said.

In previous years, President Obama met privately with 12 regional tribal leaders, including the Navajo Nation, following the conference. However, negotiations over the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ have pushed this meeting to another date after January, White House officials said.