The newly-established White House Council on Native American Affairs

What is the Council’s role and function?

On June 26, 2013 President Obama signed an executive order establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This order was singed in an effort to continue improving a positive and sustainable government-to-government relationship between the Federal government and tribal nations. This relationship has been formally and legally established within the United States Constitution, in treaties, statues and many other areas of law. The purpose of the Council on Native American Affairs, chaired by the Secretary of the Interior, is to improve coordination of Federal programs and the use of resources available to tribal communities. The mission of the Council is to, “coordinate development of policy recommendations to support tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans, and shall coordinate the United States Government's engagement with tribal governments and their communities.”

According to the executive order, this “policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations.” There are five primary areas designated by the federal government in an effort to honor the treaties between the tribes and the Federal government and to continue to support the tribe’s ability to self-govern and to self-determination:

  • Promote economic development such as housing, transportation and workforce development
  • Increase access to nutritious food, ability to address historical chronic disease issues and better health care
  • Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal court systems in order to protect tribal communities
  • Increase the opportunities for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives to obtain an education
  • Protect natural resources, the environment and respectful tribal culture

For a more in-depth description of the White House Council on Native American Affairs please visit the White House website at Executive Order -- Establishing the White House Council on Native American Affairs | The White House. In addition, there is more information at the American Indian Report: Falmouth’s Institute Online Magazine at Obama Establishes White House Council on Native American Affairs | American Indian Report. Michigan State University Extension works closely with Michigan Tribal Governments and tribal nations in the Great Lakes to explore various government topics based on an individual tribe basis.

To learn more about Government and Public Policy and the Leadership and Community Engagement programs offered through MSU Extension please contact Emily Proctor, Tribal Extension Educator with questions or comments at (231)-439-8927 or 

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