Obama Native Nations Policy

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 The National Congress of American Indians
Resolution #ANC-14-032

TITLE: Obama Native Nations Policy

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, before the United States, Indian nations and tribes were independent sovereign nations; and

WHEREAS, when they first came to America, European nations recognized Indian nations and tribes as sovereigns through treaty-making; and

WHEREAS, from the first days of the Republic, the United States recognized Indian nations and tribes as Native Nations, with inherent sovereign authority over our citizens and territory; and

WHEREAS, in the first Indian treaty, the 1778 Delaware Nation Treaty, the United States acknowledged the Delaware Nation as a Native Nation, with sovereign authority over its citizens and territory; and

WHEREAS, the Articles of Confederation cautions against the danger of war with “Indian nations,” and the United States entered into 9 Indian treaties under the Articles of Confederation to form alliances and preserve the peace; and

WHEREAS, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 pledges that the United States will observe the “utmost good faith” towards Indian nations and tribes, and will never invade Indian rights, liberty or property; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution of the United States, through the Treaty and Supremacy Clauses, recognizes Indian nations and tribes as sovereigns, with inherent authority over our citizens and territory, and classes Indian treaties among the Supreme Law of the Land; and

WHEREAS, the Constitution, through the Indian Commerce Clause, recognizes Indian tribes as governments and establishes a bi-lateral relationship of Commerce parallel to the Foreign Commerce Clause; and

WHEREAS, in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase Treaty with France, the United States promised to abide by existing Indian treaties between Indian nations and Spain, until the United States “by mutual consent” entered its own treaties with Indian nations; and

WHEREAS, the Presidents, Congress, and the Supreme Court have repeatedly recognized Indian nations and tribes, as original American sovereigns, with inherent sovereign authority over our citizens and territory; and

WHEREAS, the United States entered into more than 370 Indian treaties with Indian nations and tribes, enacted numerous statutory agreements with Indian nations and tribes, and issued numerous Executive Orders establishing Indian reservations and reserving Indian lands as “permanent homes” for Indian nations and tribes; and

WHEREAS, Indian nations and tribes reserved our original, inherent sovereignty and right to self-government through treaties and agreements with the United States; and

WHEREAS, in 1868, after 90 years of treaty-making with Indian nations and tribes, the United States ratified the 14th Amendment, which repeated the Constitution’s original reference to “Indians not taxed” and acknowledged the original jurisdiction of Indian nations and tribes over our tribal citizens; and

WHEREAS, Indian nations and tribes have recognized authority to govern our citizens, develop, manage, preserve and protect our lands and natural resources, regulation reservation commerce, impose taxes, and administer justice; and

WHEREAS, it is the policy of the United States to promote Indian Self-Determination; and

WHEREAS, the United Nations has ratified the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, acknowledging the right of Native peoples to autonomy and self-government within our lands and territories; and

WHEREAS, Indian nations and tribes, MAST and other Regional and National Indian Organizations, including NCAI and NIGA, called upon President Obama to issue a new Executive Order to establish a White House Council on Native Nations and to issue a new policy on Native Nations; and

WHEREAS, President Obama answered the call of Indian nations and tribes by issuing a new Executive Order on the White House Council on Native American Affairs on June 26, 2013; and

 


WHEREAS, the White House Council on Native American Affairs was established to coordinate policy among the Federal Government, with the goals and objectives of honoring Indian treaty rights and Indian sovereignty, promoting prosperous, sustainable, and resilient tribal communities; supporting Indian education, tribal youth, health care, and tribal justice systems; protecting and preserving Indian lands, natural resources and the environment; and promoting sustainable economic development, including energy development, and tribal job creation; and

WHEREAS, to ensure that the White House Council on Native American Affairs can achieve its objectives it needs three essential ingredients in addition to the plan that the President outlined in the Executive Order:

• Tribal Leader Participation: Under the Unfunded Mandates Act, the President has authority to appoint tribal government leaders to serve on the White House Council on Native American Affairs, tribal leader participation is essential to the success of the White House Council; accordingly, the President should call upon our Indian nations and tribes through our 12 BIA Regions to nominate one tribal leader to serve as a representative and one tribal leader as an alternate to serve on a Native Nations Council that will work in partnership with the White House Council on Native American Affairs on intergovernmental issues; to educate the public about Indian treaties, agreements, laws, and executive orders, Indian sovereignty, and tribal self-government; and to work directly with tribal governments nationwide to be constantly informed of the priorities and needs of Indian Country;

• Executive Director and Staff: Under Presidents Johnson and Nixon, the National Council on Indian Opportunity made great strides in Indian Policy because the policy initiatives of the National Council were followed through, substantiated, and made to happen through an Executive Director and staff, and the President and the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to appoint an Executive Director, two deputy directors, and administrative support employees to staff the White House Council on Native American Affairs and those appointed should have substantial experience working with tribal governments;

• White House Council on Native American Affairs Subcommittees: To address cross-cutting Indian policy issues that impact the jurisdiction of more than one Federal Department or Agency, the White House Council on Native American Affairs should have several subcommittees to carry on the work of the Council in between its quarterly sessions, including the following:

o Native Children, Youth, Families, Education and Housing;
o Health Care, Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention;
o Indian Lands, Environment, and Natural Resources;
o Energy, Economic Development, and Jobs; and
o Law Enforcement, Tribal Justice Systems, and Jurisdiction.

 


NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon President Obama to issue a Native Nations Policy Statement and Executive Order setting forth the following:

• NATIVE NATIONS: The status of Indian tribes as Native Nations endowed with inherent sovereign authority over our citizens and our territory;

• THE CONSTITUTION: The Constitution’s recognition of Indian sovereignty, tribal jurisdiction, tribal citizens, and the bi-lateral government-to-government relationship between the United States and Native Nations;

• TREATIES, SOVEREIGNTY, MUTUAL CONSENT: A policy direction to all Departments and Agencies to respect and adhere to Indian treaties; to respect and defer to Indian tribes and Tribal sovereignty; and to deal with Indian tribes based upon mutual respect and mutual consent to the greatest extent practicable and permitted by Federal law, and to charge the Native Nations Council (NNC) (including the Secretary of the Interior, Secretary of State, and the Attorney General serving as ex officio members) with the duty to serve as an alternative dispute resolution system for Indian nations, so that Federal court cases may be deferred and referred to the NNC to find resolutions based upon mutual consent, whenever possible;

• U.N. DECLARATION ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES: An Executive Order policy direction to all Departments and Agencies to adhere to the fundamental principles of respect for indigenous rights set forth in the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon President Obama and Secretary Jewell to provide for Tribal Leader Participation in the White House Council on Native American Affairs through the Native Nations Council; to appoint an Executive Director, two deputy directors, and staff members; and to establish subcommittees of the White House Council on Native American Affairs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that recognizing the tradition of the National Council on Indian Opportunity, the Vice President should attend meetings of the White House Council on Native American Affairs from time-to-time as an ex-officio member; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI calls upon President Obama to issue a special message to Congress and propose implementing legislation to enshrine the Native Nations policy in legislation.

BE IT FIURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI joins other National and Regional Organizations to support a new Native Nations Policy and to promote Tribal Leader Participation, Executive Director and staff, for the White House Council on Native American Affairs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.


CERTIFICATION

The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Mid-Year Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Dena'ina Civic & Convention Center, June 8-11, 2014 in Anchorage, Alaska, with a quorum present.