The relationship between Tribal Nations and the United States government is built upon mutual commitments. The financial allocations in the federal budget are meant to support the treaty and trust obligations to Tribal Nations and their citizens. The United States’ profound commitment to Tribal Nations arises from the treaties negotiated with, and subsequent agreements forged between, Tribal Nations and the U.S. The Constitution and the numerous treaties signed or adopted by the U.S. are the basis for the federal government's obligation to allocate funds for programs that fulfill this responsibility.
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 and again in the 2018 US Civil Rights Commission report, Broken Promises: Continuing Federal Funding Shortfall for Native Americans. It is imperative that federal policy treats Tribal Nations equitably as compared to other governments by providing Tribal Nations the same access to federal resources, affirming that Tribal Nations have the same authority as other sovereigns to prosecute crimes and regulate commerce, and ensuring the same availability of federal incentives to spur investment and economic growth.
NCAI works to unify tribal leaders, organizations, and advocates to ensure that the historic and modern promises made to Indian Country are honored across 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. NCAI utilizes this budget request in its advocacy efforts, which are primarily designed to increase funding levels across Indian Country programs, to develop additional federal funding streams for program areas that are underserved, and to pass mandatory funding for critical areas, such as health care and education. NCAI advocacy within the appropriations and budget space seeks to get Tribal Nations the resources they need and have been promised so that they may more effectively create their own self-determined futures.