WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama addressed U.S. Department of the Interior employees March 3 in recognition of the 160th anniversary of the department. Native American contributions within the department were highlighted.
Jerry Cordova, a tribal coordinator with the Bureau of Land Management and member of the Pueblo of Taos, led a prayer before Obama’s speech. He noted that the Crow Nation adopted the president during his campaign last year.
During his address, Obama took the opportunity to note that money included in the recent stimulus law designated for the interior will help rebuild and remodel schools on Indian reservations. In total, the stimulus package directs more than $2.5 billion in direct funding to tribes.
Obama was introduced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The ceremony was held in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium with a backdrop banner stating, “Thank You President Obama.”
First Lady Michelle Obama made a visit to the department Feb. 9, during which she said the president planned to appoint a senior policy advisor to his White House staff soon to work with tribes and the federal government on issues such as sovereignty, health care and education. Sources have told Indian Country Today that Heather Kendall-Miller, a Native American Rights Fund lawyer, is being vetted for the job.