Politics & Government

Obama meets with Native American leaders

Leslie Lohse, leader of a small band of Indians in Tehama County, recently found herself speaking directly to President Barack Obama — one chief of state to another.

"It's pretty exciting that the president did follow through on his promise to summit with tribal leaders," Lohse said of her history-making conversation. "He respected our sovereignty and reassured us we do have a government-to-government relationship."

Lohse, leader of the 300-member Paskenta tribe of Nomlaki Indians that operates a casino near Corning, was one of several Northern California chiefs who met with Obama on Thursday at the largest-ever gathering of tribal leaders.

Keeping a campaign promise, the president hosted 386 heads of state — leaders from more than half of the nation's 564 federally recognized Indian tribes.

Obama, who took 10 comments and questions from the leaders, called on Lohse, who asked him to stop landless tribes backed by outside developers from opening casinos outside their traditional territories.

The practice, known as reservation shopping, requires approval by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Lohse told Obama the shopping is "causing some issues between the gaming tribes – maybe nine gaming tribes – and with the local communities and our state itself."

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