TITLE: Support Tribes Accessing any Infrastructure 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, Indian Tribes are sovereigns that pre-date the United States, with prior and treaty protected rights to self-government and to our Indian lands; and
WHEREAS, the Constitution of the United States, through the Treaty, Commerce, and Apportionment Clauses and the 14th Amendment, recognizes the sovereign status of Indian Tribes as Native nations established prior to the United States; and
WHEREAS, federally recognized Indian tribes are authorized by tribal and federal law to govern tribal nations and operate programs, services and activities for the benefit of the tribes and their members; and
WHEREAS, tribes are burdened by outdated and nonexistent infrastructure on and accessing tribal Lands; and
WHEREAS, the antiquated and obsolete conditions of our roads, sidewalks, structures, water and sewer, housing, bridges, dams and other infrastructure systems put the health and safety of Indian tribal citizens at risk and limit the economic growth potential of Indian communities; and
WHEREAS, tribal governments face barriers to infrastructure development that other forms of government do not as tribal governments do not have direct access to key federal programs that would enable tribal government to leverage capital or attract outside investment; and
WHEREAS, many tribes are located in rural and sparsely populated areas and on federal trust land that are often not appealing to private sector entities making the public/private model (e.g. highway tolling and light rails) largely ineffective as a means to address the infrastructure needs of Indian Country including public/tribal transit; and
WHEREAS, dedicated funding set aside to specifically address the needs of Indian Country falls under the US government’s trust responsibility to Tribes.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) calls on Congress to include in the national infrastructure package an allocation of funding specifically for infrastructure projects for tribal governments for projects located on or providing access to tribal lands; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls on Congress and the Administration to look beyond public/private partnerships as a means to address Indian Country’s infrastructure needs and allocate funds in a manner that provides for direct funding to tribal governments; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2017 Midyear Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Mohegan Sun Convention Center, June 12 to June 15, 2017, with a quorum present.