Restoring Rights For Native Americans - Part II

Uploaded by NixonFoundation on 28.05.2012

I am pleased to
introduce the person that
will present the afternoon
panel, Walter Echo-Hawk.
Walter is the author of
a very distinguished book entitled
"In the Courts of the Conqueror"
and he's currently an adjunct professor
here at the University of
Tulsa College of Law. I met
him when he was writing this book,
but I've known him for, more
or less, 38 years because he
was an attorney with the
Native American Rights Fund down in Boulder.
Now he lives here.
But he is an extraordinarily dedicated
Now teaching, but he
also practices law with
Grove and Dunlevey, a local
firm, and he is the
Chief Justice of the
Kickapoo Tribe court.
So Walter it's all yours.
Good afternoon, everyone.
My name is Walter Echo-Hawk and
I thank Wally Johnson for
the very kind and generous introduction.
This morning, we heard a
very amazing bit of
oral history from the
actual participants in the
Nixon administration who converged
at a single moment in US
history, during the
making and formation and early
years of this landmark
American Indian self-determination
policy, which has
endured to the present day.
And right now I have the
distinct honor of introducing
the next panel, which will
discuss how that policy was
used during the rise
of the modern Indian nations.
But first, let me welcome,
if I may, all of
the panelists on both panels
to our great state of Oklahoma.
We are home to thirty-nine
Indian nations, and are
very glad to have
each and every one of you here with us today
because the Indian nations of
Oklahoma are vitally concerned
with today's conversation.
No principle is more important
to Indian nations than the principle of self-determination.
As panel one
made clear, the creation of
that policy in 1970
was a historic moment.
It did spark and facilitate
some great nationbuilding advances
throughout Indian country as
our Indian tribes regained their sovereignty.
And I think that it is
well described by Charles Wilkinson as
one of the great American social
movements that rivals in importance
the civil rights movement, the environmental
movement, and the women's movement in American history.
More recently the United Nations
has endorsed this self
-determination policy as a
framework for protecting the
human rights, the political
rights, the cultural rights, and
the property rights of indigenous
peoples worldwide.
And I think that that ratifies
and reaffirms the self-determination
policy here in our own land.
And to my mind, it demonstrates
that President Nixon got it right in 1970.
So with that,
let me introduce our stellar panel, if I may.
And I'm very grateful
to the organizers for putting together
this wonderful group.
We have our moderator, Mr. Reid
Peyton Chambers, an esteemed
colleague and one of
the premier Indian law practitioners
in the United States.
Reid has already been introduced,
but he is very able
to guide our conversation this afternoon.
The first speaker
will be Philip S. Deloria.
Oh, I'm sorry, LaDonna Harris.
And I'm deeply
honored to present her
introduction. She is one
of the grand matriarchs in
the tribal sovereignty movement.
She has inspired and anchored
me during my career
as a native rights advocate.
She's a member of the
Comanche Tribe, born and raised here in Oklahoma.
With political activism that goes back
to the sixties, you know, when
she formed Oklahomans for
Indian Opportunity to empower our tribal
communities here in Oklahoma.
She moved to the national
stage in founding the Americans
for Indian Opportunity in 1970.
And her community
service record extends far
beyond Indian country to
the mainstream organizations and even
internationally and she's going
to bring, I'm sure,
some very deep and broad
perspectives about the nature
and importance of self-determination.
Next I have the privilege of
introducing Phillip S. Deloria, a
man whom I've deeply admired for many, many years.
He's widely considered throughout Indian
country as having one of
the finest and most powerful
minds in Indian policy.
He's a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
He's a Yale Law School
graduate, and for thirty-five
years he was the Director
of the American Indian Policy Center
at the University of New Mexico School of Law.
A pivotal time in Indian
history where the policy
center focused on federal
Indian law and policy analysis
regarding the role of
our Indian tribes and our
tribal governments in the
American political system. Today Mr.
Deloria is the Director
of the American Indian Graduate Center
in Albuquerque where they focus
on assisting Native American
graduate students and college students.
More than anyone, Mr. Deloria
is able to speak to the policy implications
of self-determination.
And I look forward to your remarks.
Third, we have with
us today, we're very fortunate
to have him, Professor Robert Anderson,
who is of the Chippewa
Tribe of Minnesota. Professor Anderson
is a leading scholar in federal
Indian law, one of
the contributors to the Cohen's
Handbook on Federal Indian Law,
the 2005 edition.
He's a long-time visiting professor
at Harvard Law School.
Currently, he is a
professor of law at the
University of Washington, where
he also directs the Native
American Law Center.
Professor Anderson also has
a stellar legal career as a litigator.
Having worked for twelve years
as a staff attorney with the
Native American Rights Fund, involved
in very complex and important litigation.
He's also versed from his
years working for her
as a special assistant to Secretary
Babbett on political and
policy matters as a
special advisor to Secretary
And most recently, was on
the Obama transition team for
the Department of Interior, the year 2008.
In him, we can
see a career and the
dedication that makes Professor
Anderson a prototype role model
for our Native American attorneys in the 21st century.
We need look no further than to Mr. Anderson.
Finally, last and certainly
not least, I am
very pleased and privileged to
introduce Hilary C. Tompkins.
She carries the distinction
of being the Department of
Interior's top lawyer.
For the past three years, she
is the very first Native
American women to be
the Solicitor for the
Department of Interior, supervising the
work of three hundred and fifty attorneys .
She has a high caliber,
groundbreaking legal career.
A member of the Navajo
Nation, she graduated from
Stanford Law School in 1996.
Clerked at the
Navajo Nation Supreme Court.
Worked at the Navajo Nation
Department of Justice. Went on
to become an Assistant U.S.
Attorney and a litigator
with the Department of Justice.
And I think that
in her we can
see our current and
next generation of federal
Indian law attorneys and know
we are in good stead.
We're fortunate that she is here.
She's very aware of the
self-determination framework for Indian affairs today,
and we look forward to her remarks.
So with that, I'd
like to turn the proceedings
over to Mr. Chambers. Oklahoma,
please welcome our moderator.
Thanks very much,
Walter. Good afternoon everyone.
Without further ado, they've already
been introduced, I'm going to
call on my old friend, not
old friend, my longstanding friend, LaDonna Harris. Thank
I am an old friend.
And it's wonderful to
be here, and particularly be
in this beautiful museum. The Gilcrease
is really the jewel, one
of the main jewels of Oklahoma.
So I'm pleased to be here
amongst friends and friends throughout the ages.
I am going to... You
may have noticed something in
Bobbie's presentation, by Bobbie Kilberg's presentation.
I knew her as Bobbie Green.
The first time I met her,
she was at my house as
a young White House Fellow, and
they were the first time that there
were two Indians involved in
the White House, chosen as a White House fellow.
And I was eager to meet
with them, but she seemed
to know more about Indians than they did.
And I just adored
her, that I didn't have to
explain what, didn't have to
go through Indian 101 for her.
She had already been out on
the Navajo practicing law there.
She herself came out
of the, more or less, beneficiary
of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
And I consider myself a beneficiary of that.
That is how we started Oklahomans
for Indian Opportunity here, and
was the first statewide organization, Indian organization in the state.
It was there I learned how to be an organizer and
learned much about politics.
But I wanted to share with
you about Bobbie, you
know, as being a Comanche,
relationships are the most important thing.
We say, relationships and
responsibility to those relationships. Since that time that
we first met at my
house, she became my doughter.
I was surrogate to the
wedding, that's when she
married Bill, I was a
surrogate to her first child, and
I have the privilege of being her neighbor and friend.
And I think, though I
was married
to a United States Senator and
had already gone through the Johnson administration,
I learned more about the White
House, how the White House
functioned through her.
She got assigned to the White
House and it was
because of her... First I
should start, the Taos people
came to Fred Harris' office
and us and he invited me
to sit in on the meeting
and ask us to be,
would he sponser the legislation
for the return of the Blue
Lake. And we talked
to them and it was because of their sincerity.
They had been working, as was told, 60 years on this.
And many people were involved
in this, but Fred was
able to take the responsibility
of the legislation and he
told the staff "If we don't
do anything else, we're going
to work to help, with the Taos to return their Blue Lake.

Well that... of course, I had become
involved in Civil Rights
in Oklahoma and Indian rights
and been involved, so I
was beginning to work to make
it a civil rights issue, a
religious rights issue, kind of on
the outside, and then Bobbie suggested
that I should go and meet Len Garment.
So I called and made an appointment.
Not sure how that worked out,
but I got in the Nixon White House,
and that was quite a privilege.
And to know Len Garment was quite a treasure.
And I know that he's ill
now and unfortunately not with
us today, but I wished
he were here to share the part of this story that he plays.
And through him, I got
to know Brad Patterson, we have
become friends and have continued to be friends.
I feel like I know his family
because every Christmas, I get
a Christmas card with pictures of
the family, either climbing a
mountain or something extravagant. So
that relationship turned into
a very valuable one because,
in talking with Mr. Garment
I suggested that one
of the pictures that went around
the world was of Nixon as
a candidate was with the,
a picture taken with the
Taos people. And that
we thought we would really like for this to be a non-partisan issue, that
Indian issues usually became kind of more
of Democratic issue and we
were looking to make it a non-partisan issue.
He picked up, after a nice, wonderful conversation,
he picked up the phone, made
several calls, and I was in Griffin's office.
He was the leader of the
Republican Senate, and his
aide said, I don't know what
happened. He shook hands
with me and then he found
himself in Fred Harris's office.
And they worked together, the two Senators worked together to make it a bipartisan,
because as was mentioned, Senator
Anderson from New Mexico was
one of the most senior members
of the Senate, very distinguished, had
all of the seniority that anyone
could have, was also head of
the Interior Department, which that
bill had to come through,
and his protege was Jackson, was his protege.
So you can imagine coming up
against those two people in
the Senate, when Fred was quite
a new member of the Senate.
But they wouldn't
let the bill come out of
the committee.
So Fred said that any bill
that came out of the
legislature, I mean out of the
committee, he would attach
the Blue Lake onto it.
So they finally had a vote.
We felt like we had the
votes in the committee. "We." I felt like I was there every minute, so it is a 'we.'
We had the votes
in committee, it finally got
out of committee onto the floor,
and making it a
bipartisan - it was
truly - that was one
of the real remarkable things -
making Indian issues a bipartisan
issue, issues, was
one of the real inheritance
of the Nixon administration.
I tell you that story because
it was so personal and of
course our families now, the
Kilberg family and the Harris
families see each other
at least once a year.
We've gone to Bar Mitzvahs, we've
gone to weddings, and all
of those wonderful things, so relationships do mean things
She also told me
that I should get to know
the Office of Budget and Management, because
they're the ones who make recommendations
to the President. So she took
me over to Frank Zarb and
I met Frank Zarb, who
happened to be, who happened
to turn out when the Department
of Energy was created, he
became the first Secretary of Energy.
And it was through that
relationship, we helped to
organize the Council of Energy
Resource Tribes, which was
the first time tribes took over
the management of their resources
and changed the policy and had
the Department of Interior and the Energy Department working together.
It was a very unique relationship.
It had even gotten
written up in the newspaper that
I sent him a bouquet of
flowers because we finally got this accomplished.
So it was those kinds of
stories that were...and the other
that was mentioned
this morning that to me
was so important was the
Environmental Protection Agency.
The Environmental Protection Agency has
become a very important piece of tribal government.
We used that in many,
many different kinds of ways
and it's helped us work out
better relationships with the states,
and we all have
now the right to,
tribes have the right to declare
their own environmental standards,
which was a very
unique change in policy
because we were falling though the
cracks in Congress and they
made an administrative decision on
that. So
that made it a very important contribution.
But I think that making the,
I'm spending some time
on the Taos Blue Lake
because that was such
an important, major breakthrough.
And that breakthrough, as told
by many of the
other people who... and I
want to say also that
Nixon dismantled the Office
of Economic Opportunity, but kept
the Indian portion of that
program and put it over
in the Department of Health and Human Services.
And it was through that agency,
because of the way it
had the flexibility more than
the Department of Interior, had
the flexiblity for many of
us to do many more
different kinds of activities than we'd ever done.
And in fact many times
we use the resources from that
department to fight the Department
of Interior, but we won't say too much about that.
it was a very important
thing and has continued to this day.
It was also the Head
Start Program. It was the
Nixon administration that a group
of Indian people, Philip Martin
from the Choctaws, John Crow
from the Cherokees in North Carolina, and Stanley Patiamo.
came and said they're going to do away with
Head Start, and it's
been the most important thing for
our children to maintain their
language and give them
a cultural base in readiness
for school, for education.
And so they asked if I would set up an appointment,
which I did. And those three
men convinced the Assistant
Secretary that that
was an important point, to save
the Indian Head Start program. They
took it to the Secretary and the
Secretary said, "Well let's save
the Head Start program for all people, for all young people."
So those three men
get a lot of credit for saving
the Head Start Program because they
made such a wonderful explanation
of what the importance of
Head Start meant to Indian, young Indian children.
Those are the things that I remember.
It was a very dramatic time. The civil
rights movement, the women's movement.
I seemed to get involved
in all of those things, but
it was important to the Menomonee restoration.
That is the second.
Because of the success of
the Taos Blue Lake,
the Menomonee people will tell you today,
had it not been
for that success that they
probably would not have been reestablished as a tribe.
They had been terminated in the past.
And Ada Deer, many of you know that name,
Ada Deer... Again, she was
a product of the OEO program,
came and lobbied this.
I didn't think that the Congress
would ever change its mind on
this, but she worked
the halls of Congress. We gave
little receptions and we did
things to be useful to
the tribe and they passed
the, Congress reversed itself
on termination and said never
again. Not only would they
reestablished the Menomonee, but
they would do away with
termination, never to have
it as a policy, federal policy, ever again.
So that was a real remarkable time.
And it was a result of the Taos Blue Lake.
The Alaskan claims was mentioned.
Again, Fred and I were
much involved in that and
I think he introduced legislation for
60 million and it got
40 million, so that was one
of the pluses that we like to think of.
We didn't watch it close
enough about the corporations, but
we did get the land settlement.
Because they said they were
people who still used the
land, lived off the land,
the land was more important actually
than the financial aspect
of it because they still lived off the land.
That was their argument.
But again, most of those
were people who brought
their issues and were
so persuasive and had
the courage to do it because
of the success of the Blue Lake.
And then of course, with the
support of the White House
was the Alaskan claims
again became the success it has become.
I think that's what I'll
share with you now and
perhaps you'll have questions
afterwards, but I'm the
grandmother of the group. I'm
the elder of the group, so I got to talk first.
Thank you.
Thank you LaDonna
Thank you.
Thank you so much for your leadership
over the years on Indian issues.
It has been a wonderful thing
for the Indian community. And the
second speaker, I guess
you're the grandfather of the
group. What does that make us?
Old Grandpa Sam Deloria.
You better be careful. I
want to just say
one thing about Sam as
the Director of the American-Indian Law
Center for over thirty years in New Mexico Mexico.
Sam, when I
was Associate Solicitor and Kent
was Solicitor, there were a
couple of dozen Indian lawyers
in the country, American Indians who we're lawyers,
and as a result of the
tremendous work Sam has done over the years,
there are now several thousand
through that program and through similar programs.
Thank you.
I did it all by myself.
My own money.
I appreciate that, Reid.
Obviously a lot of... Fred Hart started that program.
He's still sitting in
a corner office at the University of
New Mexico grumbling to himself,
not out of regret
for having started the program,
he is just a guy that grumbles
to himself a lot.
As I am, as you are about to find out.
I am constrained,
although nobody has made the
mistake today, I am
on a crusade for everybody
to understand that this is
a lectern not a podium.
A podium is the little
thing that the conductor stands on.
So when somebody says, "I'm hiding
behind the podium," that means
they're down there standing somehow
huddled behind a little
riser that's this high. This
is a lectern. I'm here
because it's after lunch and
I ate a little bit
of lunch and if I
sat in that chair much longer
then they'd just go directly to Bob
Anderson. First
I want to plug a book,
and that is Mark Trahan's book
called "The Last of the Indian Wars," is that it?
"The Last Great Battle of the
Indian Wars," which is
a really interesting account of
basically the relationship between
Forrest Gerard
and Henry Jackson and how the
hiring of Forrest Gerard
enabled Henry Jackson to do
a 180 degree turn in
his Indian policies and the
Blue Lake thing figures quite
prominently in the book.
I really recommend
that you take a look at it.
Mark is here today.
My understanding was we were
supposed to talk about the
aftermath of the Nixon
message up to today.
I don't know if I can make
it all the way up to today,
but we have these kids that
are going to talk after us
who can... Now to
me, today is anything after
about 1980, so you got a lot of ground to cover.
First, let me just
answer definitively a question that was asked several
times regarding the roots of
contracting. It was OEO, there's no question about that, and in fact
the impact - I've said
this in a book chapter I wrote about
35 years ago, the
impact of OEO was
enormous and that can't be overlooked.
After the first couple
of years of tribes participating, and OEO
is not just the legal
services program, it's community
action program
was the main program that was available to Indian tribal governments.
And the fact that they ran
them successfully simply made
it impossible for anybody
in Washington to argue that
Indians were incapable of running
their own affairs. It could
not be argued. We had
not made nearly the mess
of OEO programs as the
urban programs had made of the very same program.
So, although it
is right to examine
the process by which things
changed in the Nixon administration,
we have to look at the set-up
for that, which was it would not
have been possible for any
administration to continue to
deny Indian tribes and
communities the right to govern their own affairs.
Now how it was done
and how enthusiastic it was done is another
question entirely and I
was really fascinated to hear
people who were in the administration talk about it.
It reassured me of something
that I had wondered and that
is was this something
that was done at a certain
level of the White House
and the President was only dimly
aware it was taking place.
I've heard the story about the
football coach before and
stories like that I always
think, "Eh, that sounds too
Frank Capra for me to
really embrace, but okay,
I'll buy it." You know, he'd
liked his football coach and
that's fine. I don't care
what motivates somebody to do
what I want him to do,
you know, hey, cool. So
I don't doubt a single word
that was said this morning. I
find it answering
the question I had always wondered,
did he even know this was going on?
Did he know the significance of any of this?
The Nixon policy as embodied
in the message, but also other
policy matters, I think
will always be the
gold standard of federal Indian policy.
Not because it's perfect.
Partly because it went
so far beyond what Stewart Udall
and the Kennedy and
Johnson administrations were willing
to do, we got a lot of
lip service and very little
action from Interior in
terms of actually changing things.
And there's just no two ways to say that.
What I mean is the Nixon policy
was so distinct that no
administration since then
or, I would submit
to you, in the future,
is going to be able
to surpass it because
if you surpass it, you
are going to make promises that can't possibly be fulfilled.
And so every administration since
then has either
tepidly embraced the Nixon
policy or pretended it never happened.
But it is a
cliche of Indian policy
analysis and Indian history
that Nixon was the best President
for Indians ever or
the best President for Indians since
Roosevelt, if some people argue that.
It certainly is the gold
standard and I don't
think any other President is
going to try to top it, because
you can't, and you
don't want to get too much farther out on a limb.
So Democratic administrations are not
going to embrace it because he was a Republican.
Republican administrations are not
going to embrace it because no
Republican likes what's in
the Nixon policy, at least no modern Republican.
So I think it's there as an
historical artifact and it's probably not going to change.
What were the problems over the
years in implementation of
the Nixon message?
One thing that
I've always felt uneasy about
and it kind of came back
to me today is that there is,
we're quite away from... By golly, Bill Rice!
As I live and breathe, Professor Bill Rice!
Policy making
in a way, this is going
on TV and everything.
I still have to say it.
In a way, the Taos has
kind of distorted Indian
policy in the
sense that everybody in
the world loves the Taos Pueblo
and the people from the Taos Pueblo.
And so, having them embody
the first major move of
this Indian policy, how are you going to top that?
How can those of us
with more humdrum issues to
be brought before the federal government for resolution
possibly hope to provide
anything that brings hardened
federal officials to tears?
We can't do that.
This is not an argument against recognition
of the beauty of Indian cultures
and it's not an argument at
all that the Taos Pueblo
people are manipulative,
in fact, one of
the many good things that
can be said about them is
that they're completely oblivious to that sort of thing.
Nevertheless, it puts the
rest of us in the
position of saying, how can I compete with these guys?
How can I get the attention
of the federal government to my
little humdrum thing which
inloves some acres
of land we're really entitled to, that we want to get
back, but I can't do all this pageantry,
I can't make cry.
What the hell is this all about?
So in that sense, the
idea that you have to
appeal - I
love playing with Facebook, I
put wacky things on my
Facebook page, and I
put a thing on Facebook the other
day saying, "The Western hemisphere's
Native Americans, our new slogan
is purveyors of spirituality
to the Western world for over
half a millennium." You know, we're not
performers, and this
is not a criticism of the
Nixon administration, it's
more a reflection on this society,
we're not performers. We shouldn't have
to make you cry
to get justice. We shouldn't
have to present a
particular pageantry of culture
in order to get justice.
Justice is justice.
It shouldn't have to be earned through entertainment.
It shouldn't have to be earned
through personal relationships and family relationships.
That's not the way you run a government.
That's not the way you do justice.
So, I am a little uneasy about that.
As people proceeded
to look at the Nixon
message in action, in life,
I think that over the
years we have
tended to simply accept
the Nixon message as the
gospel and we
have done very little
to look at the complications
and the implications in the
Nixon message.
What is self-determination?
I haven't the faintest idea. I
know it's a slogan, I know
it's the name of a piece
of legislation, I know it
was in the Nixon message, but when
it comes to looking at the
actual implications...
For one thing, the term self-determination internationally
means something completely different from what it means in terms of
American federal Indian policy.
For the second thing, is self-determination
that somebody else is paying
for isn't really self-determination.
It's a different kind of relationship.
We don't talk about that at all.
We talk about self-determination in
the abstract, but we spend
almost no time looking
at what the exact outlines are.
There are many other
policy issues that we simply don't discuss in this business.
The Congress, which is
supposed to set policy, has no clue.
You could go and you
could testify to the
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs or
to the House committee, whatever
they call it now, Natural Resources
or something, you could
tell them anything about federal
Indian policy and they would believe you
because they who are responsible
for it have no clue what
federal Indian policy is.
Their hearings have nothing to do with federal Indian policy.
Their hearings are basically trotting
out the same half a
dozen guys that they
like to hear from to talk platitudes about
something they call federal Indian
policy, but nobody's looking at federal Indian policy.
And at least, I will
have to say, for the Nixon
message is it touched the
important bases in federal Indian policy.
The problem is in implementation
we have left it at that.
We haven't really followed through.
That's as much our fault,
on the Indian side, as it
is anybody else's fault.
Conflict of interest.
If I'm not mistaken, Reid Chambers
wrote a Law Review article about it.
Didn't you introduce it into the conversation?
I think Bill Veder did
Sam, but I did write on that.
The conflict of interest was
not... Bill Veder was
a guy who worked for the
Justice Department and then
later worked for Interior, right?
He was never wrong about anything.

You were wrong about everything.
He was never wrong about anything,
and the interesting thing was
that he took opposite positions
on things, so it was a
little hard if you were going
to follow him to know
which, now I'm not
going to say anything about anybody
running for major office at the moment,
but sometimes you had to
know which Bill Veder you were trying to emulate.
Reid I think probably contributed more
in his article on the
conflict of interest that
he wrote while you were still
a professor... I don't know when he wrote it.
I'm going to stop asking him, it's
my turn up here.
Reid made a tremendous contribution
and the acknowledgement in the
Nixon message, the acknowledgement
of a conflict of
interest was an
enormously important acknowledgement for
a President of the United
States to make because it
was an acknowledgement that in
having a relationship -
they always take a picture when
I'm going like this - in
having a political relationship with
Indian tribes, the United States
is limiting its own sovereignty.
I shouldn't say that.
I'll have a bunch of tea
bags thrown at my head
as I walk out to go
to my car, but that in
fact is the case. When
you admit the existence of
somebody else, something else,
you are acknowledging
the limitation of yourself.
So having the
President admit to that
was tremendously important.
Problem is he
was wrong, in a way.
In the next administration, Griffin Bell
came in and wrote
a letter in which he
said the United States
never has a conflict of
interest because the United
States is always the client.
The Justice Department never has
a conflict of interest because
the United States is always the client.
Griffin Bell was right, in
a way, and wrong in another
way. Where we have
failed to implement the
Nixon message is not
in not enacting the Trust Council Authority legislation.
That would have been a disaster for the Indians. The
reason it would have been a
disaster for the Indians is
the minute they set that up,
every single meeting that any
federal agency had from then
on that involved an Indian issue,
they would look at each other
and say, what about the Indians?
And somebody would say, the
hell with them! They've got their
own lawyers. Let them sue us if they don't like it.
And the importance of that is
the standard in court is
the federal decision has to
be outrageously beyond the
federal official's legal authority.
If you are arguing within the
administration, within an executive
branch, you are arguing how
discretion should be exercised,
a much easier standard.
If you have to go to court
on everything, you're going to lose 90% of the time.
So the Trust Council Authority was
the wrong solution to this problem.
Griffin Bell had a point.
The United States is always
the client, or almost always the client.
Are you trying to shut me up?
No, I'm not, not right now.
Three more minutes, okay. I get three minutes and five seconds.
We've got to save some time for Bob and Hillary.
The United States is almost always the client.
Where we should have moved
was when Griffin Bell said,
we balance competing statutory
obligations all the time.
Wally Johnson said that this
morning and Kent said that.
What we need to do to
deal with this conflict is
to look at the process by
which they do this balance
and put that subject to
a regulatory procedure so that
we can be assured that the
Indian argument gets the
proper hearing. That's what we
have failed to follow up
on and that is the way
to manage this problem successfully
because you cannot... Just hiring
twelve lawyers to sit across
the river in Virginia and sue
federal agencies is the
worst solution to this because,
as Reid said this morning, there
are times, many times, when
the conflict of interest works in favor of the Indians.
And if we are not in
the meeting when the decisions
are being made, we
can't take advantage of those
times. So it's the wrong
thing. Alright, that's all I've got to say.
I'm disappointed because I
think that the profession
that I've spent so much time
with, the legal profession and legal scholars
have done so little
to analyze the Nixon message
and have done so little to
really look at the hard
policy questions that are
facing us that are implicit in the Nixon message.
I want to express my
gratitude for having been invited
to be here and I really
hope that somebody will take
the time to get, in
addition to whatever oral history
these people from this morning
have already given into tape
recorders or something, this is an important story.
It's an important story because Indian
people really don't
know enough about how the
Federal decision making process works.
And the times now, the
issues now are so much
more - if you compare San Francisco
Peaks, where the Indians really
have never been given any consideration
whatsoever, just as important
to those tribes as Blue
Lake is to Taos, but Blue Lake was isolated.
It's way the hell up there. Nobody
else wants to do anything up there.
San Francisco Peaks, we would
be interfering with skiers. I
think that's unconstitutional, to interfere with the rights of skiers.
So, there are a lot of other
considerations and let me just say in closing,
the Sierra Club, it's my
understanding, the Sierra Club
during Blue Lake
thing told people
that the reason Taos wanted it
back was so they could put a resort up there.
Next time they ask
you for money, remember that.
And thank you so
much and thanks for
all your work over the years.
Our next two speakers are
I guess the grandchildren here,
the younger Indian leaders. Bob
Anderson's been a leader
in the Clinton Interior Department
and now at the University of Washington, Bob.
Thank you Reid, and thanks
to the Gilcrease and to
the Nixon Foundation and
organizers for inviting me to this event.
I just want to talk about
some of the ongoing work
that rose out of the
events that were described this
morning and I think that
many of you will appreciate
the fact that these cases,
these issues go on forever.
And the question that
is foremost in my
mind right now is the
larger question of the trust
responsibility and trust administration.
Secretary Salazar's created a
National Commission on Trust Reform
to look at these issues surrounding
financial management, which are
very important and have been
in litigation for many
years, but also issues
involving management of tribal
natural resources in
conjunction with the tribes, in
conformity with the self-
determination policy, and have asked us
to make recommendations for congressional
changes and for changes
that could be done administratively, either by
the Secretary or by the
President though executive order. And
we're all taking our jobs
seriously because, although we've
made a lot of progress in
terms of the federal-tribal relationship
in the last 40 years, there
are still ongoing difficulties that
cause tremendous tension between the
tribes and the United
States in its role as
trustee and in its role
as it administers other federal
programs that affect tribal interests.
One of the issues that
was talked about this morning,
and I think that both Ken and
Wally raised it, was the
important decisions by the
United States to bring a lawsuit
called US v. Washington to
protect Indian treaty rights in
the Pacific Northwest. And that
case met with a resounding
success in 1974, with
the district court recognizing the
tribes of the Pacific Northwest's
rights to up to fifty percent
of the harvestable surplus of fish.
That was a wonderful case brought by the administration.
Another case was brought
by the Bush administration in
the late '80s to extend
that ruling to shellfish,
which was also victorious in the
federal courts in the 1990s.
And then again in the Clinton
administration, a third suit
was brought to support those
important harvest rights within environmental
servitude, a right to protection
of the environment in order to
ensure that there are salmon
and that there are shellfish available
for harvest by Indians and non-Indians.
And once again, that case
was victorious in 2007 in
the federal district courts.
And I make this point because
the litigation theories that
were developed in 1970 and '69 by
the US Attorney's Office,
by the Solicitor's Office, have been
adhered to by every administration
since then: both Bush administrations,
the Reagan administration, and the
Clinton administration, and now the
Obama administration. And that
sends a tremendous message to
the opponents of tribal rights
and tribal resources, whether they
be state Attorneys General
or other Western interests that would prefer to
have these resources to themselves.
It tells them that this is
a nonpartisan issue, that the
United States is steadfast in
supporting tribal claims to these
resources, and equally important,
it shows that it's serious enough
that you have the United States walking
into court arm-in-arm
with the tribes in this litigation.
So, it's tremendous
decisions that were made like
the one to bring US v.
Washington that have generated positive
results through out the West in
terms of access to
treaty resources and water
rights through out the western United States.
And I know that Hillary has
on her desk right
now requests from other
tribes seeking the assistance
of the United States in evaluating
claims for instream flows for
fisheries support purposes.
I was the Associate
Solicitor back in the '90s
and I know how these arguments go,
so Hillary's going to do what
Kent did when
he brought Reid in to argue
with the BLN's lawyers
or the Park Service's lawyers, that's
to sit down in that Solicitor's
conference room with Kent's picture
and everybody else's and have a
frank and no holds
barred legal discussion of
the issues that are at
hand and then the Solicitor
makes a decision. But it
gets things out on the table
and it's a critical function that
takes place in the Interior Department.
The water rights cases are
critical. They've led to
major settlements in the last twenty years.
There have been 29 federal Indian
water rights settlements that have
provided tremendous benefits to tribes
and to the non-Indian
communities affected by the assertion of those rights.
But first and foremost, the administrations
have supported these tribal claims,
not without
a lot of grumbling and a
lot of current complaints about
exactly how the administration
carries these things, but there is a vibrant dialogue
going on involving these important natural resources.
The Alaska case is
really an interesting one to
me because I spent a lot
of time working on issues
up there when I was lawyer
for NARF in the
'80s and early '90s.
And there's no doubt
that the settlements grant or
recognition of 40 million acres
to be held by Native
corporations and a billion
dollars was a great victory on the asset side.
But left out was consideration,
in any adequate form, of hunting and fishing rights.
Congress revisited that in
1980 in a way that
has proven to be
unsatisfactory to the Native community.
And I know that Secretary Salazar
appointed a commission to make some recommendations.
The Native community, the Alaska
Federations for one, did not think they went far enough.
Alaska remains an ongoing
experiment in terms of how
that settlement act will be administered,
and there's a great deal of
work to be done now
and by future generations of
Alaska Native people and their advocates.
The whole question of
Native rights to hunt and fish in Alaska is something
I just want to touch on briefly here
because when Congress revisited
this in 1980, they didn't
want to adopt a Native
preference for hunting and fishing rights.
They said, "Well, we're going to have a race-neutral, we're going to have a rural preference."
They didn't understand the political
relationship between tribes and the United States.
"We'll have this rural preference and
that will cover most Alaska Natives."
Interesting to me is
the fact that seven years earlier,
in the Nixon administration, in the
Marine Mammal Protection Act, there
was an exemption for Alaska
Natives from the coverage of
that act's moratorium on the harvest of marine mammals.
The Endangered Species Act has
an exception for Alaska Natives.
So, at that time there
was a recognition of the status
of Alaska Native people
and their entitlement to
discrete treatment, just like tribes
in the other states and that
somehow got lost between
1975 and 1980.
So again, more work to
be done in those areas.
Now, the Supreme
Court has caused a
lot law professors to kill
a lot of trees complaining about
how bad their decisions are
in many areas and I
agree that in two
particular areas the court has
done a really offensive job.
One is in suits involving
claims that the United States has
breached its trust responsibility to
tribes to such a
degree that damages awards are justified.
The Court has set out a very narrow standard.
I think that it's there
and, you know, hopefully
Congress could fix that
by being more precise in how
it deals with the
obligations of administrative
agencies to carry out federal programs.
But, as alluded to
this morning, I'm not too keen
on the notion that this Congress is going to get
anything out that either
party advances as part
of their agenda. It's just too dysfunctional at this point.
The other area is the
question of jurisdiction over non-Indians
on non-Indian land in reservations.
With the advent
of the self-determination era, tribes really
got to the business
of regulating, like other local
governments do, exercising their
sovereignty over matters like local
taxation and zoning and so
on, and the court has not looked favorably at that,
whether they are justices that
are appointed by conservatives or liberals.
This all comes out of the allotment policy that
Reid talked about a little bit this morning.
And again, I'm not
hopeful that Congress will
overturn these decisions and I'm
not hopeful that the Supreme
Court in my lifetime
is going to change course here.
But tribes as a result
of the self-determination policy do
have a way out, and that is through
aggressive efforts to reacquire
property that they can
do with the assistance of
the Secretary of the Interior
or through their own efforts through
their successful economic development ventures
that, again, have roots
in the fact that
tribes had representation in the '70s,
won important sovereignty cases that
gave rise to Indian gaming
and other exercises of authority
within Indian country to
improve the economic conditions on reservations.
So I don't how I'm doing on time here, Reid.
I'm gonna leave plenty
for Hillary... Three or four more minutes for you to wind up.
...and for the rest of the group to discuss.
I'm not as bad as Sam, okay.
But I think that
there are important tools that
are available to deal
with these ongoing issues and
the fact is that they are
going to be around for
a long time. So I think
in this room we've got people who
worked in the Nixon administration on US v. Washington.
I worked on US v. Washington
in the Clinton administration
to get the environmental cases filed.
Hillary's got requests in front
of her to deal with water rights cases.
And these things go on.
But we've got a solid foundation
of law and policy that
I think grew out
of these early years, that
people have been able to
pick and choose from to make
use of these doctrines
and policies to move the
dialogue along so that
the Office of Tribal Justice,
which was created in the Clinton
administration as part of
this idea that you needed to have somebody to help
implement the trust responsibility,
not a trust council as Sam so correctly disparaged,
but to have a
voice within Justice on
the trial attorney side, as
was created in the Nixon
years, and now we've got
a congressionally ratified Office of
Tribal Justice that was created
in 2010 to be a
separate go-to body within the Justice Department to advance Indian interests.

So, lots of progress. Significant
setbacks in certain areas, but
all I think coming out
of a solid foundation
with the rejection of the
self-determination policy.
So I'll hold off here and let Hillary take over.
Thank you.
Thank you Bob and
thank you for your leadership
in all of these things over the
years. And now Hillary Tompkins
is the current Solicitor at the
Interior Department and can bring
us up-to-date on 40
years' perspective on Nixon
policy and what's happening today.
Yes, in ten minutes, right Reid?
Well, people have been around ten minutes.
Okay, I'll do my best.
So, it's a real pleasure to be here.
Thank you for inviting me.
This is a beautiful setting and it's
great to be out
of Washington, D.C. And I
just want to share with you a little
bit about my experience as Solicitor.
I've been Solicitor since
June of 2009 and
it has been quite an
experience and a real
privilege to serve in this capacity.
One of the things that I
want to share with you is
my perspective as Solicitor
working in the area of
Indian Affairs and share with
you kind of my vantage point
and philosophy about these
issues and give you
a sense of where I think we are today.
And I do believe we are
at a crossroads in history.
We're at a very critical point,
I believe, in our history.
For starters, I want to just
share with you my thoughts
about federal Indian law and
policy, and one of the things that
I like to emphasize when
speaking with folks about
this important issue is that
Indian law and policy, in
my view, has a
paramount role and impact
on the lives of Indian people every day.
And I think it's
important to not necessarily
view it as, at
least from the lawyers perspective, which
is the world that I live in,
as an isolated case or an
isolated factual dispute, a
legal fight between two parties.
I think it is much more than
that and I believe that
Indian law and policy is deeply intertwined
with the history of our country.
And if you don't appreciate
that, you're going to miss a big part
of the picture and today's presentation definitely
demonstrates that. And
it also is about personal stories
of Indian people, generation after
generation. My own story,
my own personal story reflects that.
I am a product
of a federal Indian policy from
the late '60s, right before
the Nixon presidency, before the Indian Child Welfare Act.
I was adopted as a baby.
I was born on the Navajo Reservation.
I was actually born in Ramah,
in Zuni Pueblo right in the
part of the reservation called
Ramah, which is the
Supreme Court case that was
alluded to this morning, which I am recused from.
But my family comes from Ramah, New Mexico
and I was raised in a non-Indian
family. This was before
the Indian Child Welfare Act, and
so I grew up without my culture
and I grew up without my tribe.
I grew up in
Southern New Jersey. So that's
pretty profound impact, I would
say, on my own life experience.
The other interesting overlap with
the Department of the Interior
was that I received scholarships from
the Navajo Nation from royalties,
which Interior and the tribe administer and manage,
and BIA scholarships.
I would not have gone to Dartmouth or Stanford but for those scholarships.
I would not be standing here today
as Solicitor but for those scholarships.
So it's one
of those life's ironies. I believe that
I am here today as chief
legal representative for the Department of the Interior,
an entity that had
very significant impacts on
my life in very critical stages.
So, as I said, I've
been in this position for
three years now. It has been an incredible journey.
And I believe I am
so privileged to work
with Secretary Ken Salazar and
President Obama. This has
been an amazing team to
work with, and leadership. I
think President Obama has really
been tremendous in his
leadership and commitment to Indian country.
He has had a historic number
of engagements with tribal leaders.
Every single year since he's
been in office, he's had a
White House conference with tribal leadership.
He's a proud adopted
member of the Crow tribe
and he has been very
vocal and supportive of
strengthening the relationship with Indian tribes.
And similarly Secretary Ken
Salazar is just an
amazing leader and individual.
From day one when I
started this position, he said
one of his top priorities was
rebuilding the trust
relationship with Indian tribes,
and I'll get into that a little
bit more about my experience
on some particular examples,
but just a very
strong advocate for Indian country
and also willing
to recognize the historic wrongs
of the past and
emphasizing the need to do it differently in the future.
So with this leadership,
I think it's been possible to
address a number of really
important things upon the
start of the term of this administration.
So when we came into office,
one of the first things that we
faced was the Carcieri decision,
which is the Supreme Court decision
that limited the
discretion of the Secretary of the
Interior to take land
into trust for tribes, a finding that
only those tribes that were
under federal jurisdiction in 1934,
in one year, 1934, those
tribes that are under federal jurisdiction
are eligible to take land into trust.
And we have been working
very aggressively on interpreting
that court decision and also
recognizing and supporting
the need for a legislative fix of
that decision. In
our view, it wrongly curtailed
the authority of the Secretary to take land into trust.
I don't need to
tell all of you the
importance of land for Indian
nations and building their
governments, providing services
for their communities. And we've
also been working on the
administrative side to address
a number of pending trust applications that tribes have.
Since taking office, we've
taken 145,000 acres of land into trust.
We're also in court defending
feta trust application decisions that we've approved.
So we do get challenged on those issues.
And one of the things
I didn't fully appreciate until
I was in this role is
that this, the Department
of the Interior's decision is a
very defensive litigation oriented practice.
So we are challenged for
decisions that we make in
support of tribes, as well
as challenged by tribes as well.
And also in this
term in the Supreme Court, we
have the Patchak decision, which
is an example of one
of those instances where a
private citizen is challenging
a decision of the Department
of the Interior in Michigan
to take land into trust
for a tribe that's been
fully briefed and we've had
oral arguments and we're
awaiting a decision. And we're
arguing our position is that
there's no waiver of
the United States' sovereign immunity
to challenge our decisions to
take land into trust, that
there is an immunity provision or
protection against challenges for land
that we hold in trust on
behalf of tribes. So we're
awaiting an outcome on that case.
Some other things that have occurred
under the Obama administration, and
they've even alluded to here, is
the enactment of the Tribal
Law and Order Act in July
of 2010, providing tribes greater
sentencing authority, training for
law enforcement, recruitment for law
enforcement, training for domestic
violence and sexual
assault crimes, combating alcohol and drug abuse issues.
With that act, we
are hopeful to provide
expanded support and capacity
to deal with the issues that
Indian country face in that regard.
The other issue related to
that is, I don't know if
you've all been following the legislation,
the Violence Against Women Act, and
if you've been following it, you'll know
the Senate has passed the
legislation, but the House
has passed a different
version that does not
include a provision the
Obama administration supports, which is
concurrent criminal jurisdiction for
tribal courts to prosecute
non-Indian offenders
who have taken action
against Indian women.
And actually in the plane
this morning, there's a above the fold
article in the New
York Times on this
very issue and it says,
"For Native American Women,
Scourge of Rape, Rare Justice."
And in this article,
it provides the statistic, the
harrowing statistic: one in
three American Indian women have
been raped or have experienced
an attempted rape, according to the Justice Department.
Their rate of sexual assault is
more than twice the national average.
So this is clearly a
serious, serious problem and
a situation that just calls
out for help immediately and
we're hopeful that Congress will
work this issue out in
the Legislation and Conference Committee
because there is clearly a
need to have the legal
infrastructure in place to
provide the vehicle, to provide an avenue
for Native American women to
have protection, to be protected
in the tribal court legal system
in these circumstances.
So, some other issues
that we've been working on are surface leasing regulations.
We've gone through pose regulations
that will change the leasing
regulatory regime for leasing
Indian lands.
And these new regulations are specific
to business site leasing, residential
leasing. Believe it or not, before
this time there was
just one universal leasing system,
but now they're customised to
the particular kind of leasing
activity, also to incentivize
renewable energy development.
And so we're hopeful that those
new regulations will come online
this summer. And as
was mentioned previously, President Obama
in December of 2010 supported
the UN declaration on the rights
of indigenous peoples, demonstrating his
support and this administration's support
for the principles embodied in
that important document, and I
actually had the privilege of going
with Assistant Secretary Larry Echo-Hawk,
who I will miss greatly.
I'm sure you've all heard
that he's been appointed
to a high level position with the
Latter Day Saints in Utah,
but I had the privilege
of going to Geneva with Mr.
Ecko Hawk to present
the United States record on
indigenous rights before the UN Human Rights Council.
And that was
an important forum to talk
about the United States history in that regard.
We've also adopted a new
tribal consultation policy.
The President issued an Executive
Order on this early in his administration.
And then Interior now has
a new policy that's been in effect since December.
I think it's a distinct
policy, it's different in the
sense that it clearly specifies what
types of departmental actions require
tribal consultation and sets
out a process about how
tribes interface with the
Department, with specific guidelines
about engaging in that
consultation effort.
My experience in this
arena, there's been a lot
of talk about government to government consultation,
but I think it's important
to know what that means,
how is that done, and how
is it meaningful. And I
think this policy helps set
up some more concrete guidelines in that regard.
And lastly I want
to tell you a bit about some important
settlements that the Department
has been engaged in.
We settled four
major water rights settlements to date.
Over a billion dollars in
new water infrastructure projects, and
there are more water rights settlements
pending that we hope to bring across the finish line.
And then, an issue that
I was very involved in
directly when I first came in the door in June,
as Solicitor in August,
I became heavily engaged in
the Cobell negotiations. And
let me just give you some context for this.
The Solicitor's Office, there's 350 attorneys.
We have the Washington office and then regional and field offices.
Actually my field solicitor I believe is out there somewhere.
Alan Woodcock, where are you?
There he is.
Alan, he's the field solicitor here
in Tulsa. And we
have a very diverse legal practice.
One of the things when I came
in, I was told
you have a Division of Indian
Affairs and you have
regional and field attorneys working
on Indian affairs issues, but
you also have the Indian Trust Litigation Office.
So that's a new office,
relatively speaking, and that
office in my office
deals with all of the Indian trust litigation.
Those are cases,
there were about 100 cases pending
when I assumed this position, a
hundred tribes, give or take
a few, suing the Department
of the Interior for breach of
trust. So that gives you kind
of the current day context of
what has been the evolution
of the trust relationship.
For many tribes, there's five
hundred and sixty-five federally recognized tribes,
but for many tribes, they have sued the United States.
And there's a specific
unit in my office to handle those issues.
So coming into this position, I
met with Secretary Ken Salazar,
and also Deputy Secretary David Hayes,
and the Secretary was very
clear, this is my top priority.
"We need to settle the Cobell litigation.
We need to do the right thing."
And Deputy Secretary David Hayes
was in complete support
of that and we got right
straight to work on that. That
was one of the first things that
I handled coming into this position.
It's one of the largest class
actions ever brought against the United States.
Over three hundred thousand individual
account holders.
There's almost five hundred thousand
individual Indians who have trust
Not all of them had accounts.
Cobell, and I'm always
amazed by this, Cobell involved,
it was 15 years of litigation,
seven full trials, onehundred and
ninety-two trial days, twenty-two
published decisions, and it
was up to the Court of Appeals ten times.
And when we received it,
we had just gotten a DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling.
We did hear similar themes
that we heard this morning of
opposition to settling.
Disbelief that we could settle.
You'll never settle in a
million years, good luck.
And we moved forward.
We had tremendous support from the
Department of Justice and we got it done.
We negotiated six months
straight, in a
conference room, with the
lawyers hammering it out.
And I tell you,
lawyers don't get a lot of
credit all the time, but these
lawyers worked out a
settlement and engaged in
the art of negotiation to a level that I
think is unparalleled.
3.4 billion dollar settlement.
Just yesterday the Court of
Appeals affirmed the District
Court's approval of the settlement.
So that was fantastic news.
1.9 billion dollars, almost two billion dollars
will go to
land consolidation to eradicate
the impacts of the allotment policy.
The Trust Reform Commission, which
Bob Anderson is a member
of, was also an outgrowth of the Cobell settlement.
There was a commitment by Secretary
Salazar not only to
settle the grievances of
the past, but to see
how we can not go
down this path again and
have this commission evaluate what
can Interior do differently, what can Interior do better?
And also out of
this settlement is a 60
million dollar education scholarship fund
for Native American students.
In the aftermath of Cobell,
we also then looked at those other cases with the tribes.
And just this
spring, we announced the
settlement of 41 cases,
41 tribes we have settled with.
Over a billion dollars in
settlements, and this
to me marks a
sea change in the relationship.
I entered this role where we
had been in litigation,
Interior had been in litigation
for decades with many, many, many tribes.
Now, within a period
of three years we have settled many of them.
And we are continuing to talk with tribes.
This is why I think we are at a critical crossroads.
In my view, the future
of the trust relationship does not
rest in the court room.
There can always be
legal debate about the scope
of the trust relationship and whether it's been breached.
That can go on to the
highest court the land and
it will take decades probably to get to the highest court of the land.
But in that context, you
will have, the outgrowth
of that, an adversarial relationship, a
chilling effect. Interior will be in a defensive posture.
And it has an impact in
the sense that the norm
becomes that the tribe will sue Interior.
In my view, we don't want
to accept that as a normal outcome.
We need to find those
opportunities to see if we can avoid litigation.
Sometimes litigation might be
the only avenue, and I
respect that, and tribal governments
need to make those decisions for themselves.
From the Interior vantage point,
I would say we at
Interior as trustee need
to explore every option available
before that becomes the only viable option.
Lastly, I want
to say that in lieu
of this adversarial litigation regime,
I think that we need to
focus on a policy based
humanitarian approach, looking
at things through a humanitarian
lens because there are
still the dire statistics in Indian country.
I remember growing up in
New Jersey and my parents
telling me, "You're Navajo, you'll
go back to the reservation someday."
Which I actually did and I
practiced in the Navajo courts. I
learned about my culture practicing
in the Indian court system, learning
about Navajo peacemaking,
learning about the traditions of the Navajo Nation.
And my adopted parents
would tell me about the dire
conditions on the reservation,
and we've all heard of
them, and I think one
of the things that I find
troubling is that there's still
those dire statistics out there.
They're getting better
and I think that there's attention
that's been drawn to them.
But they're still there, and I've
known that for 44 years of my life.
Such as, just to
give you some statistics, in 2010
the poverty rate in Indian country
was 28.4 percent, 28.4 percent,
whereas in the rest of the United States, 15.3 percent.
Some reservations face up to 80% unemployment.
Suicide is the second
leading cause of death behind
unintentional injuries for Indian
youth ages 15
to 25 years old, and 3.5 times
higher than the national average.
3.5 times higher. And I know my
good friends over at the
Health and Human Services and my
old friend Pam Hyde from
New Mexico working with SAMHSA
is tackling those problems and the folks
at Interior as well.
In my
view, there remains much suffering
in Indian country. There's also much strength.
And let me close
with my final thought. I also
think one way that the
trust responsibility can
live on and be
strong, the trust relationship
between the United States and Indian tribes,
one way it can be strong is through Indian youth.
The President signed an executive
order in December of last year, the
White House Initiative on Native American Youth.
And Secretary Arne Duncan and
Secretary Ken Salazar just signed an MOU.
It's a partnership,
to form a partnership on
education in Indian country,
closing an achievement gap,
addressing the alarmingly high drop
out rate, preserving Native
culture and language, which is
something I didn't grow up
with, but that I know
is so invaluable to Native
people and their continued
strength and vitality as Indian nations.
So, I leave you
with that thought, that Indian
law and policy has to be
informed by the people
who live and breathe the impacts
of the decisions that are made
by the federal government every day.
And the more that Native Americans
can sit at the table and
be active participants in that
decision making, the more long-lasting
those decisions will be, and the more effective.
And we have to invest
in our Native American youth now
because they're going to be the future leaders.
They're going to be the
future leaders and active
participants, not just
in tribal government, but in
state government, in federal
government, in the judiciary, in elected office.
So, I believe that is
a top priority right now.
So, thank you
for listening and I
look forward to having a
dialogue with these amazing panelists
and it's been a real pleasure.
Thank you. Hillary, thank you. And
these settlements of the Cobell
case and the tribal trust mismanagement
cases have really been groundbreaking.
I mean, you did have a whole
lot of those when you came in office.
We didn't have that, Kent and
I. There were Indian
Claims Commission cases, but you've
really done a terrific
job and the administration has,
in my view, in making generous
settlements of so many of
them and thanks for that.
I'm going to circle back to
your three colleagues here and
see whether they have other observations
or questions for each other or questions for you.
Well I've got one brief point
that I forgot to make out
of that US v. Washington litigation
is that not only has
there been court victories, but the
tribes in Washington now
have more natural resource fisheries managers than the state and federal government
combined in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington.
And it's just tremendous numbers
of people on the ground, a
lot of young people, who
are carrying out these
management functions and partnerships with
the state and the federal government
in a co-management regime that really is pretty amazing
and positive.
Kent and Wally, looking back on the
forty years when the
Justice Department and Interior and
tribal attorneys were bringing
the fishing rights cases.
It seems that a lot of
what was achieved, to me,
over the forty years as I
listened today, Kent pointing out
for example that almost half
of the water in the
central Arizona project is now
devoted to tribal uses of
one sort or another, or
the half of, you said Bob, half
of the fish now was
5% of the fish in
the Pacific Northwest were
caught by Indian fishermen.
So, it was a situation where
the treaty rights had just
not been enforced and
over the last 40 years, Hilary, you mentioned the 29 or one of you mentioned,
maybe it was you Bob, 29 water settlements,
4 in the Obama administration.
Hopefully, a couple of more this year, Hilary.
We can talk about that.
But Sam, I cut you off and I'm sorry to do that.
You're always cutting me off.
Well, you always have a lot of good things to say.
Do you have any further thoughts?

La Donna, what about you?
I just want to remark on what Sam said about the importance of the Office of Economic Opportunity that created a whole new set of young Indian leadership that wasn't there and then this is the new generation that's following us,
so that there was this movement and coming together and
what makes a relationship
so wonderful is that when
you do something and it
works out well, the friendship continues through your lifetime.
And I thank the Nixon
administration for that.
Well, I think we haven't mentioned,
but Sam and Chuck Tremble
and Tassianna have written,
I think, a trail breaking article
that enlightened me because at
least the '60s with OEO,
that was before I got into
Indian affairs, but have pointed
out what a trail breaking
time that was for Indian
people, taking control, as
you said a little bit today, over
their own affairs under
the OEO programs that came directly to them
and not through the BIA.
So I think that's, this is
going to be in the Tulsa Law Journal, isn't it, soon?
Yeah, actually Tassie wrote the
article and Chuck and I
egged her on. I don't know if
anybody from Tulsa Law Review is here but...
One of the impacts that it made
here in eastern Oklahoma
was that the tribes were still appointed by Washington.
The tribal leaders of the five
major tribes were appointed by
Washington at the time, and
then when they found out
that us wild tribes
on the other side were electing
ours, they got in
there and took over their
tribal leadership. That was quite a
big movement on the eastern side of Oklahoma.
So we were
greatly affected and we were
affected in another way
because we were allotted
lands, that we didn't have
reservations like other tribes
did and so therefore
we weren't entitled to the Office of Economic Opportunity.
And it was through working with
the Indian desk and the
Indian Opportunities Council and
Sarge Schreiber that said that
Indian tribes were entitled to
those programs as well.
Though the county was counting
us, we were not being
serviced by the
promise of the Office of Economic Opportunity.
So they had great effect in
Oklahoma that I remember
quite well and was
very proud of the fact
that, what was accomplished here.
So a lot of the push really,
I think you said Sam that the
Nixon message may have
been inevitable in some respect
for any president because
Indian people themselves were taking more control over.
Well, it's kind of a platitude,
but when anything important
that happens historically, it's stupid
to say this caused it
and point at one thing.
Certainly, we had been pressing for
greater control over our
own affairs for a long
The Nixon message wouldn't
have happened if we hadn't
asked for it, if we hadn't pressed for it.
There would have
been no pressure to do this.
Now I'm not saying that
anybody this morning said "Yeah,
we decided to do this and
the Indians were all sitting
out there and never even thought of it on their own."
But, that's why
it's important for people to
understand how these decisions are
made because also we
could've asked for it, we'd asked
for it for a long time and weren't getting much progress.
We got a lot of good words
from Kennedy and Johnson, but
Udall was not ready
to let us run things.
He was not ready.
These people came in.
They evidently were ready, but they could
not deny that we
did not make a big mess out of the OEO program.
It's unfortunate that in
an account of what the
Nixon people looked at
to see what the Indians wanted,
they looked at Alvin Josephy
and Edgar Cahn
and Bill Veeder.
What about the Indians?
Did you listen to Indians?
Well, if the Indians were filtered
through Bob Robertson, then we're really in trouble.
You know, that was not exactly
the mouthpiece, the megaphone for the Indian voice.
I'm just saying, it's important
and this has been an important contribution
to look at these things
from all facets that you
can, so you can understand
how important decisions really come about.
I think that's an
excellent note to end on.
The hour grows late and
we, like with the other
forums, we could stay and
let this conversation go on
and on, but we try to
limit these to just ninety
minutes and I think we've had
our real earful for the ninety minutes.
I thank the audience, and
I thank our panel and our moderator.
And we look forward to further conversations and other legacy forums.
Thank you again.