Budget & Appropriations

The relationship between tribal nations and the federal government is unique and founded on mutual promises. The obligations to tribes and their citizens funded in the federal budget reflect the trust responsibility. This solemn commitment is the result of treaties negotiated and agreements made between Indian tribes and the United States in exchange for land and resources.

The trust responsibility commits the federal government to the protection of Indian lands; protection of tribal self-governance; and, provision of social, medical, and educational services for tribal citizens. The authority to fund programs that fulfill this responsibility is founded in the Constitution.

However, federal funding that supports Indian initiatives in every relevant program area—from education and public safety to infrastructure and health care—lags behind the average for the rest of the United States. This trend was documented in the 2003 US Civil Rights Commission report, A Quiet Crisis. This means that tribes lack the same resources available to other governments to provide for the public safety and welfare of their citizens.

NCAI has continuously worked to unify tribal leaders, organizations, and advocates to ensure that promises made to Indian Country are honored throughout the federal budget. Each year, NCAI compiles recommendations from tribal leaders, tribal issue organizations, regional intertribal groups, and advocates into an Indian Country budget request.

Archives of this document, testimony, and appropriations analysis are available in this section of the NCAI Web site.

Tribal leaders have identified necessary federal funding for tribal government services, infrastructure, natural resources, health care, and education as critical to the honorable fulfillment of the trust relationship with tribes. Especially in challenging economic times, tribes should receive at least the same level of resources that are provided to other governments to meet the needs of their citizens.

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