2012 White House Tribal Nations Summit Recap

Published on Dec 07, 2012

Click here to view more photos from the 2012 Summit

Download NCAI's Complete Tribal Nations Summit Overview

The 4th Annual White House Tribal Nations Summit convened the President, eight members of his Cabinet, numerous high-level Administration officials, and hundreds of tribal leaders from across the country in our nation's capital to discuss key issues facing tribal nations.

"Three years ago, I was proud to see that this conference was the largest gathering of tribal leaders in our history," remarked President Obama, "back then an event like this was rare. Today, it's gotten routine. What I told you then is that I was committed to more than a unique nation-to-nation relationship, I was committed to getting this relationship right, so that your nations could be full partners in our economy and your children can have a fair shot at pursuing the American dream and that no one has to live under the cloud of fear or injustice." 

Key Announcements

The administration responded with action to address top tribal priorities through a number of important announcements. 

Secretaries Salazar and Vilsack announced an interagency policy on sacred places. Secretary Vilsack noted that "the President is very, very insistent that these sacred sites are protected and treated with dignity and respect." Secretary Vilsack also announced his department's report on sacred places, a collaborative effort with tribes and the Forest Service, would be released on December 6

Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Neal Wolin announced the release of a guidance document on General Welfare Exclusion, which includes a wide range of benefits, for example, assistance with housing, utilities, education, job placement, elder assistance, disabilities, emergency/temporary assistance, and religious/cultural activities payments. 

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius announced a national agreement for the Department of Veterans Affairs to reimburse the Indian Health Service for services provided to Native veterans. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced the finalization of the Department's consultation policy and several secretaries underscored key new investments that are detailed in NCAI's Summit Overview.

Throughout the Summit, the administration also underscored its commitment to key tribal priorities during the Lame Duck session, including protecting the Indian Country budget, passing a clean Carcieri Fix, and reauthorization of a Violence Against Women Act with tribal priorities included.   

2012 White House Summit Speakers (click name for speech transcripts)

Opening Session

Closing Session

Call for Break Out Session Notes

To effectively monitor progress on tribal leader priorities, NCAI is inviting tribal leaders to share their notes from the summit breakout sessions. Please submit notes via email to Peter Morris at pmorris@ncai.org, via fax at 202-466-7797, or via phone at 202-466-7767 x210. 

Save the Date! NCAI Transition Meeting - January 22

In advance of the Tribal Nations Summit, NCAI and regional intertribal organization partners developed a briefing book outlining key tribal priorities. One aspect of this book was a Framing Paper of Nine Transformative Steps that the President could take to advance our nation-to-nation relationship. The nine steps are as follows: 

  1. Visit Indian Country

  2. Create an Interagency Policy Council

  3. Modernize the Trust Relationship

  4. Establish an Administration-wide Policy on Sacred Places

  5. Promote Economic Security by Ensuring Governmental Parity between Tribes and States

  6. Recognize our Nation-to-Nation Relationship in International Forums

  7. Prioritize Appointments that Impact Indian Country       

  8. Direct the Census Bureau to Lead a Periodic Indian Country Economic Survey

  9. Ensure Tribes are Included in National Policy Reform Efforts 

To continue this important work and dialogue with the administration, NCAI will host a transition meeting on January 22nd in Washington, DC to set the agenda for Congress and the Administration for the next four years. Visit the event page for more information- we hope you will join us. 

NCAI Media Highlights 


Subscribe to our News RSS