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Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Indians Vent Anger at Bush
By Leslie Linthicum
Journal Staff Writer
President Bush sent a stand-in, his associate director of intergovernmental affairs, to talk to Indian leaders in Albuquerque Tuesday.
And although Jennifer Farley remained standing on a dais at the Albuquerque Convention Center for the better part of an hour, tribal leaders took her to the woodshed.
Bush, as president or as a presidential candidate, has never addressed a National Congress of American Indians meeting, an omission that a few of the thousands of tribal leaders who attend the annual convention see as more than a coincidence.
"This is an attitude I believe his administration has toward Indian Country," said Joseph Naranjo, a delegate representing Santa Clara Pueblo. "The words that you speak we hear," he told Farley, "but your actions are saying something else."
Santa Ana Gov. Myron Armijo and Amadeo Shije, chairman of the All Indian Pueblo Council, complained to Farley that Bush told them in May when he spoke at a manufacturing plant in Bernalillo that he would schedule a formal meeting with all 19 pueblo governors to talk about their concerns.
Shije and Armijo said all they have received since then are dismissive form letters from the White House appointments office.
Farley said Bush intends to keep his promise to meet with the pueblo governors and she said staffers are working to make the arrangements, although details have not been ironed out.
Even San Ildefonso Pueblo Gov. John Gonzales, who is a member of the steering committee for Bush's re-election campaign in New Mexico, complained to Farley about slights by the Bush administration. He complained that he and other pueblo governors were stood up last week by Bureau of Indian Affairs officials.
"We need mutual respect," he said.
On the third day of the annual meeting of NCAI, the nation's oldest and largest Indian organization, tribal leaders also blasted provisions in the national energy bill, which passed the House on Tuesday, complaining that it would encourage uranium mining a special concern of the Navajo Nation and would reduce Interior Department oversight over energy development on tribal lands.