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Principles for Stronger Tribal Communities

“We’ve got to make sure we are not just having a BIA that is dealing with the various Native American tribes; we’ve got to have the President of the United States meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect.”

Barack Obama, Elko, NV, January 18, 2008 




President Barack Obama recognizes that honoring the government-to-government relationship requires fulfillment of the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes and individual Indians. More specifically, Obama is committed to meaningful reform of the broken system that manages and administers the trust lands and other trust assets belonging to tribes and individual Indians. Further, he is committed to resolving equitably with both tribes and individual Indians litigation resulting from the past failures in the administration and accounting of their trust assets. 


Native American tribal nations are sovereign, self-governing political entities and enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States federal government that is recognized expressly in the U.S. Constitution. 


Barack Obama supports the principle of tribal self-determination, with recognition that the federal government must honor its treaty obligations and fully enable tribal self-governance. 


In furtherance of the government-to-government relationship, Barack Obama will include tribal leadership in the important policy determinations that impact Indian Country. Obama will appoint an American Indian policy advisor on his senior White House staff so that Indian Country has a direct interface at the highest level of the Obama Administration. In addition, Obama will host a White House “Tribal G8” – an annual meeting with Native American leaders to develop a national Indian policy agenda.  

Hunting and fishing are important to many tribes’ diet, culture, and spirituality. Protecting hunting and fishing rights ensures that tribes are able to carry on those aspects of their traditional way of life. 
The fishing rights of Indian tribes are guaranteed not only by 150 year-old treaties, but by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Boldt decision as well. It is our shared duty to uphold these obligations and protect fisheries in such a manner that allows tribal and non-tribal fishing to continue into the future. 

The path to equitable fishery management is paved with good science. Barack Obama supports initiatives to improve the science and our understanding of our nation’s fish stocks. Through improved science, we can better guide decisions about how to protect the health of fish stocks, and, in turn, ensure a better, more secure and predictable future for our nation’s fishermen.