WASHINGTON - New Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar appeared before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Feb. 12, promising to enhance government relations with tribes, fulfill U.S. trust responsibilities to Native Americans, and work to build stronger economies and safer American Indian communities.
“As secretary of the interior, I will work hard to empower America’s Native American communities by helping address economic development, education and law enforcement, and other major challenges faced in Indian country. I will also seek to resolve the unending litigation about the management of these lands and assets. And I am committed to the settlement of Indian water rights claims.”
Salazar said President Barack Obama “recognizes that federally recognized Indian tribes are sovereign, self-governing political entities that enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States government.”
Salazar added that the Obama administration will address Indian country infrastructure and employment needs through its interior programs and the stimulus package to encourage economic development that will create thousands of jobs.
One of the greatest areas for economic development for tribes centers on alternative energy sources, Salazar said.
“Indian country offers some of the premier wind energy sites in the United States. I look forward to exploring with tribes the potential for wind, geothermal, biomass and solar energy development that exists on those lands.”
The secretary further discussed his plans on education, public safety, justice and other arenas. Read his full testimony.