Interior Secretary Visits with NW Tribal Leaders

By Liz Jones

Tribal leaders in the Puget Sound area gathered on Bainbridge Island today for a summit about top issues in Indian Country. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, of Seattle, joined them to talk about some federal priorities.

Before Secretary Jewell took the stage, a well-known tribal leader wrapped up his own comments about climate change. Billy Frank, Jr., said "our salmon has to have clean water.”

Frank: “Big business is saying it costs too much to have clean water."

Frank is known for his decades of defending Washington tribes’ treaty rights. Jewell knows him well. Part of her job is to oversee the feds policies on Native American issues. Climate change is also on Jewell’s list of top three trends dominating her agency.

Jewell: "And one of the reasons I stepped up to take this job is that in this administration we actually have a chance to do something about that.

She talked about the push for government agencies to work together more on solutions.

Another item on Jewell’s list is leadership training for young people. She said "who’s going to be the next Billy Frank that’s going to stand up for treaty rights and the salmon fishery in the northwest?"

Jewell says she’s worried about a growing number of young people who are disconnected from nature.

The third trend she talked about was budget constraints. Jewell’s often mentioned the challenge to meet the agency’s goals with a tightening federal budget. However, President Obama has requested a small budget increase for Indian Affairs in 2015.

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