Minnesota tribal leaders join hundreds of their counterparts from across the nation today at the 6th annual White House Tribal Nations Conference hosted by President Barack Obama. Tribal officials will advise the President and several Cabinet members on the most pressing challenges facing their communities, including rampant unemployment, high violent crime rates, and failing schools.
President Obama initiated the annual meetings as a way to improve the sometimes rocky relationship that has historically existed between tribes and the federal government. Mr. Obama was only the fourth president in U.S. history to visit an Indian reservation when he traveled to the Standing Rock Reservation earlier this year.
Each of the 566 federally recognized tribes was invited to send a representative to the conference, which will include an address by President Obama as well as listening sessions with officials from various federal government agencies and departments, and a reception at the National Museum of the American Indian.
As part of the two-day event, tribal leaders were invited to attend the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5 pm yesterday. This year’s Capitol Christmas tree comes from the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota, and was accompanied to Washington, D.C. by students from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.