Thursday, March 20, 2008

Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien Chairs Historic Joint Indian/Legislative Meeting

Discussion focuses on "disastrous" federal cuts to Indian Country

Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien today presided over the first joint Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs (CCIA) meeting with a legislative committee.  Rep. Paul Weissmann (D-Louisville), chairman of the State Veterans & Military Affairs Committee, requested the joint meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest between the tribal governments and the State of Colorado.
"Today, we've been discussing the disastrous federal cuts that are impacting Indian Country. You will probably be seeing impacts at the state level to health care, education and other areas," said Lt. Gov. O'Brien.
Rep. Weissmann said he asked to meet with the CCIA in order to assess the needs of the tribal governments and find out how to make sure the relationship with the state is operating as effectively as possible.
"We've been seeing the impact of federal dollar cuts in our committee. We need to look at where it makes sense to leverage state programs so that we can help reservation and urban Indian populations," said Weissmann.
Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Chair Ernest House, Sr., praised the relationship between the State of Colorado and the tribes under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Barbara O'Brien.
"This is an historic moment to meet with lawmakers," said House. "We're fortunate to work with CCIA through the Lieutenant Governor's Office," he continued.
Southern Ute Tribal Chair Clement Frost agreed, saying to the legislators, "Hope we meet again along the trail."
CCIA was created by statute in 1976 to foster good relations between the Southern Ute Tribe, the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the State of Colorado. It also oversees urban American Indian issues in Colorado. Lt. Gov. O'Brien chairs the CCIA and its executive secretary is housed in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.