Updated:
Original:

National Congress of American Indians State of the Indian Nations Address

Author:

'The Pride of Our Nations: Many Tribes, One Voice'

An excerpt

NCAI President Joe Garcia

My friends and colleagues, I am proud and confident in the strong state of Indian nations today.

This is because Indians themselves take action to make it so.

It has always been this way. It is the story of our people, and our greatest leaders.

We come from a long line of strong and powerful Indian leaders. Chief Sitting Bull, Tecumseh, Vine Deloria Jr., Ira Hayes and innumerable others who have made it possible for us to be here together today. Their battles, their sacrifices, and their intelligence made possible the legacy we have inherited. We have an obligation to build upon their accomplishments and further the legacy that we will leave for our children and grandchildren.

One of the great leaders from Indian Country whose legacy guides me, is Po'pay - which means 'ripe pumpkin.' Po'pay was a proud man who led the charge long ago so that the honor and culture of the Indian nations might be preserved. I am proud that 2006 was the first full year that the statue of Po'pay stood in the United States Capitol, and two days ago I was honored and humbled to sit under that same Capitol for the President's State of the Union address.

Our Agenda

Just as Po'pay helped unify Indian Nations in Pueblo County to make possible a greater future, I wish to see Indian country come together as ''many tribes with one voice'' to promote progress for our people.

Indian Country is also made up of everyday warriors and leaders who are part of a modern day Native renaissance where Native pride runs deep through strong tribal governance and flourishing cultures. We are making educational and economic strides that are beginning to close the gap between Native people and our non-native neighbors.

I have spent much of the past year as NCAI President talking with our people and have heard a great deal about their needs and hopes for their communities.

With those conversations in mind, our agenda for 2007 includes:

*Strengthening Tribal Governance;

*Public Safety;

*Health;

*Economic Development;

*Education; and

*Natural Resources

What we do in 2007 will be built upon our successes in 2006. Over the last year, the Indian Nations made great strides to improve the lives of Indian people and enhance our government-to-government working relationships.

Editor's note: The complete transcript of the address can be found at www.ncai