NCAI Statement on Scheduled Departure of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar

Published on Jan 16, 2013

In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Interior today, it was announced that Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will return to his home state of Colorado, having “fulfilled his promise to President Obama to serve four years as Secretary. Secretary Salazar has informed President Obama that he intends to leave the Department by the end of March.”

NCAI released the following statement regarding the announcement:

“Secretary Ken Salazar will be remembered for the promises he kept and the trust he rebuilt with tribal nations and Native people. His legacy among tribes is rooted in the depth of the relationships he forged between American Indian and Alaska Native governments and the United States government during the first term of the Obama Administration. Tasked with reinvigorating the government’s trust relationship with tribes, Secretary Salazar lifted the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs to new levels of visibility and accountability, and made a personal commitment to that effort. As a true partner and friend at the table with tribes he brought a clear determined focus to close dark chapters of the past and usher in a new era of tribal relations.

Salazar’s leadership was crucial in settling historic trust cases, supporting and implementing landmark legislation, improving consultation with tribal governments and communities, and working with tribes to protect our land, cultures, and resources.

Most importantly, Salazar’s enduring legacy will be his stewardship of the annual White House Tribal Nations Summit, which the Secretary convened, and in December of 2012 was held for a fourth straight year. During these annual events, it was clear that his words and his intentions were centered in a deep respect for the constitutional relationship between our nations and a responsibility to uphold it. This level of engagement, with members of the Cabinet and the President of the United States directly working with tribal nations, is an example of the most fundamental responsibility of governments world-wide to consult and work together with Indigenous peoples and governments. Secretary Salazar’s commitment to these efforts should not be over looked in that context.

While his leadership and presence will be missed, NCAI will work with tribal governments and citizens to communicate tribal priorities to the federal government during his transition from his position.

NCAI looks forward to working with the President and Congress to ensure a qualified Secretary of the Interior is appointed, who from day one will carry on the work of Secretary Salazar and include tribal nations as central stakeholders and governments in conserving and managing our natural resources and lands that are so vital not only to the first Americans, but all Americans.” 

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