Snap Fact #269
Native Americans Know That President Obama Has Their Backs; and Backs Up His Words With Actions!
On December 2nd 2011, President Barack Obama met with Native American tribal leaders to sign an executive order establishing a White House initiative on American Indian and Alaska native education. The initiative would be overseen by an executive director appointed by the interior and education secretaries. In signing, he reaffirmed "you have a president that's got your back." 

Obama has done better for tribes than the other presidents, except perhaps for President Richard Nixon who championed tribal self-determination as official U.S. policy. Barack Obama, however, has assembled a respectable bragging list: 

1. Signed the Tribal Law and Order Act to improve law enforcement and public safety in tribal communities.

On July 29, 2010, the Tribal Law and Order Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in order to provide assistance to Native American women. According to a report from Department of Justice, Native American women face violent crime at a rate of 3.5 times greater than the average; similarly, one in three Native American women tend to be raped at least once in their lifetimes. The President heard the need and acted to improve the quality of life for Native Americans.

2. Renewed the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and made it permanent.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), the cornerstone legal authority for the provision of health care to American Indians and Alaska Natives, was made permanent when President Obama signed the bill on March 23, 2010, as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The authorization of appropriations for the IHCIA had expired in 2000, and while various versions of the bill were considered by Congress since then, the act now has no expiration date. The President heard the need and acted to improve the quality of life for Native Americans.
3. Settled the class-action Cobell lawsuit over federal government mismanagement of royalties for oil, gas, timber and grazing leases and an American Indian farmer's discrimination lawsuit.

At the signing of The Claims Resolution Act, President Obama remarked, "The case we’re addressing today has to do with the responsibilities that the government has to Native Americans. It began when Elouise Cobell charged the Interior Department with failing to account for tens of billions of dollars that they were supposed to collect on behalf of more than 300,000 of her fellow Native Americans.  Elouise’s argument was simple: The government, as a trustee of Indian funds, should be able to account for how it handles that money. And now, after 14 years of litigation, it’s finally time to address the way that Native Americans were treated by their government. It’s finally time to make things right. " The President heard the need and acted to improve the quality of life for Native Americans.

4. Nominated Arvo Mikkanen, to be a federal judge in Oklahoma. 

His Senate confirmation was prevented by Republican opposition, including Oklahoma's two U.S. Senators (Republican), who announced their opposition to the nomination and asked that it be withdrawn. Arvo is a respected and extraordinarily qualified candidate. The aforementioned senators made these pronouncements before the paperwork detailing Arvo's stellar 25-year legal career and service to the United States had been delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The President heard the need and acted to improve the quality of life for Native Americans. The Republicans listened and did their reprehensible thing.

5. Launched a test crime-fighting program on four reservations that early results show has led to drops in violent crime in the first year. 
"I think we have made strides under the Obama administration the likes of which tribes have not seen for 30 years," said Stacy Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board. Bohlen is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan.