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NCAI will elect top officers | | |

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NCAI will elect top officers

By Mark Fogarty, Indian Country Today, October 6, 2009

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The National Congress of American Indians has a full agenda for its annual meeting to be held Oct. 11 – 16 in Palm Springs, including election of top officers, meetings of its caucuses and task forces, and scheduled visits from national politicians such as Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The group will elect its president, vice president, secretary and treasurer by electronic ballot. Members must be registered at the conference in order to vote. Area vice presidents will also be elected separately in area caucuses. Joe Garcia is the current NCAI president.

Task forces, caucuses, a forum and a roundtable will be held before the first General Assembly Oct. 12. The meth task force will hear from local tribal officials on combating the methamphetamine epidemic and also “growing prescription drug use in tribal communities.”

The Violence Against Women Act Task Force will “focus on current legislation that would increase the safety of Native women, emerging issues concerning implementation of VAWA and the lessons that tribes are learning to make their communities a safer place.”

The Suicide Prevention Task Force will include an update on work done over the past year to combat suicide. The Federal Recognition Task Force will discuss “recent congressional hearings held on revising the acknowledgment process.”

A roundtable on climate change is set to “discuss the most critical issues that are challenging tribes as they adapt their ways of life to a changing climate.”

The large land base tribes’ caucus and the women’s caucus will meet to discuss achieving a permanent caucus at NCAI meetings.

A forum on Indian transportation will consider the funding formula for reservation roads, an issue that pits large land base tribes against smaller ones.

The first general session will feature Schwarzenegger and a panel on the 2010 Census. The second will feature Baucus and Larry EchoHawk, assistant secretary of Indian affairs.

NCAI’s third general assembly will have panels on the Supreme Court and addresses by Shawn Alteo, grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. Breakout sessions the afternoon of Oct. 13 will include ones on telecommunications, tribal communication, homeland security, tribal water use and tribal governance.

Oct. 14 will start with a Healthy Lifestyles Walk and Run, the seventh time NCAI has done an active wellness event at its convention. Addresses will be given by Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, IHS director, and Chuck Trimble, former executive director of NCAI.

Afternoon breakout sessions will include ones on child welfare funding, H1N1 issues, labor, tribal courts, financial assets, federal tax policy and renewable energy development.

The election will be held Oct. 15, along with issue updates on government contracting, education priorities, housing and climate change.

On the final day, Oct. 16, the resolutions committee will report as well economic, finance and community development, litigation and governance, veterans, human resources, and land and natural resources. NCAI will consider any resolutions to be heard at that time.

The NCAI convention will also have a youth commission general assembly, an exhibit hall and several social events during the week.