Indian Gaming Today

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

First Lady Visits Interior Department

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama packed the house at the Interior Department during her barnstorming tour of federal agencies. Of special note was Mrs. Obama’s comments on Interior’s—and the federal government’s—relationship to Indian Country.

"For those of you focused on meeting the federal government's obligations to the Native Americans, understand that you have a wonderful partner in the White House right now," she said.

Mrs. Obama went on to reference her husband’s commitment to honor the “unique government-to-government” relationship shared by tribes and the federal government.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act contemplated intergovernmental relations on a level playing field. It codified a government-to-government relationship and, before the U.S. Supreme Court gutted it in 1996, even provided a mechanism through which tribes and states could enforce that relationship in federal court.

Whether or not Mrs. Obama is familiar with Indian gaming, her words and her presence carried a special message about the significance of tribal sovereignty as well as the trust relationship between the federal government and tribes.

See more here, and here's the video of Mrs. Obama.

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