Tribal Unity Impact Week

Date: Sep 19, 2012 - Sep 20, 2012

Where: Washington, DC

About the Event:

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) - in partnership with regional intertribal organizations, tribal nations, and other national tribal organizations - invites tribal leaders and tribal advocates to the 2012 Tribal Unity Gathering and Legislative Impact Week on Wednesday & Thursday, September 19 and 20, 2012.  

A briefing session is scheduled on September 19 from 9am-12pm at the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Hearing Room, Senate Dirksen Bldg. Room 628. Other events and meetings will be announced as we receive confirmation.

The 2012 Tribal Unity Impact Week will focus on urging Congress to acknowledge the duty and capacity of tribal nations to protect their people and their homelands. This authority is crucial in responding to threats against tribal members and disasters facing tribal lands, yet in both violence against Native women and disaster response there are significant barriers which prevent swift, local action by tribal governments. Join us to advocate for strengthened tribal sovereignty in these areas; a restored and strengthened land into trust process; and a stronger Indian budget.

During Tribal Unity Impact Week we ask you to join us in calling on members of Congress to stand with Indian Country:

  • LAND RESTORATION - The Department of the Interior's authority to restore land into trust for Indian tribes is under attack. The Supreme Court's decision in Carcieri v. Salazar was the first broad stroke challenging DOI's land into trust authority by reinterpreting the language of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. Recently, the Supreme Court's decision in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band v. Patchak held that the Quiet Title Act does not protect Indian lands held in trust, and any disgruntled neighbor may retroactively challenge the trust status of tribal lands.Together we must urge Congress to restore and protect DOI's authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized Indian tribes.   
  • PROTECT NATIVE WOMEN - Urge Congress to stand with tribal nations to halt the epidemic of violence against women in tribal communities.  Congress has come to a decision point on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The Senate bill, S. 1925, contains Section 904, which would restore tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians for certain crimes of domestic violence and dating violence committed in Indian country.  Section 904 is broadly supported by Indian tribes across the country; however, the House version, H.R. 4970, does not include the tribal criminal jurisdiction provisions, and some members of Congress have stated objections to it along with other sections of the legislation. Now is the time for tribes to urge Congress to pass a VAWA reauthorization right away that keeps the key tribal provisions intact!  
  • EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTION - Congress should pass legislation to provide Indian tribes the authority to submit direct requests for a federal emergency or disaster declaration.     Both S. 2283 and H.R. 2903 seek to amend the "Stafford" Act to provide Indian tribes the authority to submit direct requests to the President for a federal emergency or disaster declaration. Currently, tribes must request a declaration through the office of the state governor. The amendments are critical tools to equip tribal governments to act swiftly to protect their people and homelands during emergencies.  
  • THE INDIAN BUDGET  - The federal trust responsibility is not a line item.   Congress will soon debate how to avoid the "fiscal cliff," the term for a series of deadlines at the end of 2012 when tax cuts expire and automatic spending cuts - or sequestration - will take effect. Experts warn if Congress does nothing, it could lead to another recession.  But any deal that makes more harmful cuts to Indian programs also threatens the health and welfare of Indian people.  Under the Budget Control Act, most federal programs face a destructive across-the-board cut in January 2013 if Congress fails to enact a plan before then to reduce the national debt by $1.2 trillion. The federal trust obligation to Indian tribes must be honored and vital tribal programs must be sustained in any deal to reduce the national debt. Please join tribal leaders and advocates in supporting the Indian budget for 2013 and beyond.  
  • CONFIRMATION OF THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR INDIAN AFFAIRS – Dean Kevin Washburn of the University of New Mexico Law School has been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs.   Tribes are urging the Senate to take quick action to confirm this nomination because of vacancies at the Bureau of Indian Affairs that threaten to create a leadership void.  The Assistant Secretary is the senior decision maker on important issues of public safety on Indian reservations across the country.   The leader of the BIA is frequently faced with decisions that directly affect human lives, and the position should not be left unfilled for a period of many months until after the next election. Dean Washburn is well-qualified to serve as Assistant Secretary.  He is a former federal prosecutor, a pre-eminent scholar on law enforcement in Indian country, and has management experience.

    Please plan to attend this gathering to support these important tribal initiatives.  

NCAI Contact: Derrick Beetso, Staff Attorney