The challenges facing Alaska Natives and American Indians were outlined in detail Thursday during the annual "State of Indian Nations" address.
On Tuesday President Barak Obama delivered the "State of the Union" speech. 2 days later saw the "State of Indian Nations" address by Jefferson Keel. He's the President of the National Congress of American Indians. Keel noted that native people find themselves in a real moment of possibility to improve their way of life thanks in part to the reelection of the President. He said,
"In President Obama and his administration we have a partner committed to strengthening tribal sovereignty. Who believes in our right to determine our own course. Who understands what we have always known to be true, that Indian nations are best governed by Indian people."
During last year's "State of Indian Nations" address Jefferson Keel called on native Americans to turn out to vote in local, state and national elections. He announced that the data from the November election shows they heeded that call. Keel said,
"Indian country responded like never before."
Shortly after Keel's "State of Indian Nations" address U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington took to the podium to give the Congressional Response. She's the new Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. Cantwell observed that the Senate finally passed a reauthorization of the "Violence Against Women Act". She said,
"With a very strong vote and a new tribal provision important to making sure that the federal and tribal governments work together to closely root out this issue of domestic violence on tribal reservations."
Thursday's "State of Indian Nations" address and the congressional response can be viewed on the website of the National Congress of American Indians at www.ncai.org.