Honoring the Promises: The Federal Trust Responsibility in the 21st Century
In collaboration with Indian Country partners, NCAI drafted the Indian Country FY 2012 Budget Request (download it at the bottom of this page), with in-depth, program specific recommendations for honoring the trust responsibility of the federal government to tribal nations and tribal citizens.
Of Constitutional Consequence
A key theme of the last election was that Congress and the federal budget should focus on programs that are clearly within the constitutional role of the federal government and what the framers intended to be federal responsibilities. The obligations to tribal citizens funded in the federal budget are the result of treaties negotiated and agreements made between Indian tribes and the U.S. in exchange for land and resources, known as the trust responsibility. The authority to fund programs that fulfill this responsibility is founded in the Constitution, specifically the Indian Commerce Clause, the Treaty Clause and the Property Clause.
Keeping the Momentum
In 2010, the U.S. government took historic steps to address numerous long-standing challenges facing Indian Country. Last year, Congress made permanent the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) and President Obama signed into law the Tribal Law & Order Act (TLOA). But, like other laws, TLOA and IHCIA will not mean much if they are not implemented, and effective implementation is contingent upon adequate federal funding for the recently authorized programs. The President also signed into law the Cobell Settlement, closing the chapter on more than a century of government mismanagement of Indian assets.
This moment presents an extraordinary opportunity to further tribal self-determination and honor the promises of the federal trust responsibility acknowledged in the Constitution. Tribal leaders look to the upcoming fiscal year with great anticipation for honorable fulfillment of federal trust, treaty, moral, and statutory obligations to tribes in the 21st century. The FY2012 federal budget presents a fresh opportunity for the U.S. government to live up to the promises made to tribes in the treaties signed, statutes enacted, and contracts agreed to between the tribes and federal government over the centuries.
Or download sections of the document separately.
- Executive Summary
- Introduction (includes trends in Indian funding and government-wide recommendations)
- Public Safety and Justice
- Homeland Security
- Human Services
- Economic Development
- Environmental Protection
- Natural Resources
- Historic and Cultural Preservation
- Support for Tribal Governments
- Summary Table of NCAI's FY 2012 Requests