Fiscal Year 2015 Indian Country Budget Request
An Honorable Budget for Indian Country

Annual funding decisions by Congress are an expression of our nation’s policy priorities. Numerous treaties and laws have created a fundamental contract between tribal nations and the United States: tribes ceded millions of acres of land that made the United States what it is today, and in return tribes have the right of continued self-government, and to exist as distinct peoples on their own lands. Part of this trust responsibility includes basic governmental services in Indian Country, funding for which is appropriated in the discretionary portion of the federal budget. As governments, tribes must deliver a wide range of critical services, such as education, workforce development, and first-responder and public safety services to their citizens. The federal budget for tribal governmental services reflects the extent to which the United States honors its promises to Indian people.

A fundamental goal for Indian Country governmental services should be parity with similarly situated governments or services. Although tribes have made some progress in addressing egregiously inadequate public services that many Americans routinely take for granted, they are still experiencing what the US Commission on Civil Rights called “a quiet crisis” of federal funding and unmet needs. Most recently, shrinking resources due to sequestration and the Budget Control Act have adversely affected tribes’ ability to meet the needs of their communities. An honorable budget for Indian Country will empower tribes so they can provide their people with good health care, quality education, decent and adequate housing, and a level of public safety that any American citizen has the right to demand. Although Indian Country continues to face immense economic challenges, upholding Indian trust and treaty obligations also holds the promise of tremendous economic success.

Congress and the Administration have expressed strong support for Indian self- determination and honoring the trust responsibility. Indeed many tribes have made tremendous gains in the social and economic wellbeing of their communities when Congress has respected the responsibility of tribes as governments and invested in self-determination. Tribes across the United States are making economic contributions to their regions, drawing on a mix of intergovernmental transfers, fees, enterprises, sales, and leases that make up their governmental revenue. Honorable fulfillment of the trust and treaty promises to tribes affects not only required public services to tribal citizens, but also to the surrounding regional economies. Given the low historical bases of funding for tribal governments, opportunities for economic improvement and government success are plentiful. However, the trend in funding for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior does not reflect Indian self-determination as a priority in the federal budget.

The foregoing FY 2015 tribal budget program requests have been compiled in collaboration with tribal leaders, Native organizations, and tribal budget consultation bodies. Tribes respectfully request that these recommendations be included in the appropriations process.

Download the 2015 Indian Country Budget Request or download sections of the document separately below.

Suggested Citation: National Congress of American Indians. (January 2014). Fiscal year 2015 Indian Country Budget Requests: An honorable budget for Indian country. Washington, DC: Author.