Back to The Forefront
November 5, 2009
NCAI President Jefferson Keel, Tribal Leaders Meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
NCAI President Jefferson Keel, Tribal Leaders Meet with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

WASHINGTON—November 4, 2009—National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) President Jefferson Keel, along with tribal leaders, met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today to discuss Indian Country’s inclusion in the Affordable Health Care for America Act, the importance of the nation-to-nation relationship between tribes and the U.S. government, and Indian Country’s priorities for the 111th Congress.

“The recognition that Native people must have the choice to receive health care through the Indian health delivery system and the inclusion of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) in the pending legislation shows Speaker Pelosi’s strong commitment to Indian Country,” said Keel. “I thank the Speaker, along with Representatives Nick Rahall (D-WV 3rd), Frank Pallone (D-NJ 6th), and Xavier Becerra (D-CA 31st) for including American Indians and Alaska Natives in health reform that benefits all Americans."

“For a long time we have been fighting for Native Americans to have access to quality health care,” said Speaker Pelosi. “Finally, in the Affordable Health Care for America Act we will be able to reauthorize the IHCIA, and ensure that our First Americans receive the care they need. I want to thank the President Keel and the NCAI for the support in our efforts to provide quality health care to all Americans.”

Tribal leaders presented the Speaker with Indian Country’s other priority issues, such as passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009 and H.R.3697, legislation introduced by Representative Tom Cole, (R-OK 4th) aimed at fixing the Carcieri v. Salazar Supreme Court ruling, and to support policies that realize Indian Country’s commitment to sound energy development.

Tribal representatives that participate in the meeting included: W. Ron Allen (Chairman, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe), Matthew Franklin (Chairman, Ione Band of Miwok Indians), Floyd Jourdain (Chairman, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians), Cheryl Kennedy (Chairwoman, Confederated Tribes of the Grande Ronde Community), Hope MacDonald (Councilwoman, Navajo Nation), Marshall McKay (Chairman, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation), Mark Macarro (Chairman, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians), Juana Majel-Dixon (Councilwoman, Pauma Band of Mission Indians), Richard Milanovich (Chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians), Mark Mitchell (Governor, Pueblo of Tesuque), Ned Norris, Jr. (Chairman, Tohono O'odham Nation), Brian Patterson (President, United South and Eastern Tribes), Samuel Penney (Chairman, Nez Perce Tribe), Buford Rolin (Chairman, Poarch Band of Creek Indians), Chandler Sanchez (Governor, Pueblo of Acoma), Theresa Two Bulls (President, Oglala Sioux Tribe), and Lynn Valbuena (Vice Chairwoman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians).

“Our friends in Congress on both sides of the aisle are proving their support on our most pressing issues. Today’s developments are encouraging as we head into an historic Tribal Nations Conference with President Barack Obama tomorrow,” said Keel. “Our Native voices are being heard so we can bring change to our people.”

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