Ada Deer became the first woman to run the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1993 during President Clinton’s first term, but that didn’t mean she was always in the loop on meetings at the highest levels of government on issues that could affect tribal lands.
“I heard over the grapevine that there was going to be a meeting of Indians in the White House. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘well, why don’t I have that information?’” Deer recently recalled to TIME over the phone. She says she urged the White House to invite the leaders of what was approximately 550 tribes and Clinton made national headlines as the first President to invite all of the tribal leaders to the White House since 1822. However, she felt removed at times within the Department of the Interior for the rest of Clinton’s first term.
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