Today Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee, welcomed Washington state and other Tribal leaders to a Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee meeting to discuss how to keep businesses growing while educating the next generation in Indian Country. The roundtable examined the best approaches to increasing economic opportunity across Tribal lands.
"It's great to see so many leaders here discussing how we can strengthen opportunity in Indian Country," said Cantwell. "We need to make sure that our current generation of students is developing the skills for tomorrow's jobs. It's also important that we foster an environment that encourages 21st century businesses to grow in Indian Country. I look forward to highlighting some of the great ideas we heard today on growing jobs and education programs as Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee."
More than four million American Indians and Alaska Natives make up 566 federally recognized Indian Tribes across the United States. Senate Democrats stressed their commitment to providing more economic opportunity for Native Americans at today's roundtable.
John Sirois, Chairman of the Colville Tribal Business Council, joined the roundtable and urged the Senators to continue their outreach to Tribes as they develop legislation.
"I'm encouraged that the Senate is looking at energy, education, housing, and economic development issues this year," said Sirois at today's roundtable. "When Tribes and the federal government work together as partners, it brings success not only to the Tribes, but to surrounding communities as well."
Cantwell was selected unanimously to be the first woman chair of the Indian Affairs Committee for the 113th Congress and succeeds former Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI).
Participants in today's meeting included:
* W. Ron Allen, Chairman, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe
* John E. Sirois, Chairman, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
* William Anderson, Chairman, Moapa Band of Paiutes
* Marshall Pierite, Vice Chairman, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana
* Larry Blythe, Vice Chief, Eastern Band of Cherokee Nation
* Joe Durglo, Chairman, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes
* Dan Courtney, Chairman, Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indian
* Erma J. Vizenor, Chairwoman, White Earth Nation
* Ben Shelly, President, Navajo Nation
* Jefferson Keel, President, National Congress of American Indians
* William Lomax, President, Native American Finance Officers Association
* Ian Erlich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Maniilaq Association
* Kevin J. Allis, Executive Director, Native American Contractors Association
* Kawika Riley, Washington, D.C. Bureau Chief, The Office of Hawaiian Affairs
* Chandler Sanchez, Chairman, All Indian Pueblo Council
* Dr. Heather Shotton, President, National Indian Education Association
* Floyd Tortalita, Board Member, National American Indian Housing Council
About the Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee
The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and community leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts several meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities and enlist their help in the development of the Democratic agenda in the Senate. We are committed to serving as a liaison between Senate Democratic offices and advocacy groups and intergovernmental organizations. The Steering Committee is one of two Democratic Leadership Committees in the Senate. The Steering Committee is chaired by Senator Mark Begich (AK) and vice chaired by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH).