Fiscal Year 2017 Indian Country Budget Recommendations
Upholding the Promises, Respecting Tribal Governance: For the Good of the People

A central role of tribal governments is to protect their citizens and facilitate the recovery of their people following the accumulation of trauma and the very recent federal termination policies. While tribes are very diverse, a widespread custom exists across many tribal cultures of naming themselves with a word meaning “the people” or “the human beings.” Athabascans call themselves Dena, or “the people.” The hunting and gathering societies of the Inupiaq and the St. Lawrence Island Yupik call themselves the “real people.” The Nez Perce call themselves Nimipu, “the people.” Some of us are connected to each other through our tribal cultures, clan systems, and origin stories, which we remember to understand who we are today. Our stories and governments sustain our families, communities, and people. Our tribes’ histories, however, are also a part of America’s story: treaties and agreements bind us together, even if the promises have not always been remembered or honored.

While each tribe has a unique chronicle, non-Native expansion westward is also largely the story of American Indian and Alaska Native displacement. In the course of American history, Indian tribes lost millions of acres of land through treaties and agreements, causing devastating losses through displacement and disruption of culture and religion. Tribal nations, however, continue to remember their treaties and agreements that made the United States what it is today.

Tribes are assuming greater levels of government responsibility to meet their citizens’ needs in culturally appropriate ways, but receive exceptionally inadequate federal funding for roads, schools, police and government services promised by treaty and the federal trust responsibility. A growing body of literature indicates that sound governance institutions are critical to improved tribal economies, and a lack of federal funding of trust and treaty obligations undermines the progress made in the Indian Self-Determination era. Tribes’ abilities to govern effectively remain a defining challenge for the revitalization of Indian Country. Effective tribal governments that can meet the essential needs of their citizens require the fulfillment of the trust and treaty obligation to tribes along with respect for tribal governments.

This NCAI FY 2017 Indian Country Budget Request developed in coordination with national tribal organizations and tribal partners offers recommendations for ways the federal government, partnering with tribes, should meet the educational needs of a young Indian population through Bureau of Indian Education schools, tribal schools, and the public schools on and near tribal lands; provide adequate health care via the Indian Health Service, for both direct and self-governance tribes; ensure responsible resource development for the future; provide safe and secure tribal communities; and supply the long-term investments in tribal public infrastructure and services required to ensure every American Indian and Alaska Native enjoys a decent quality of life and has an opportunity to succeed.

Download the entire FY 2017 document (PDF 8.7 MB) or individual sections below (PDF versions).

Table of Contents
Executive Summary (523 KB)
Introduction (844 KB)
Support for Tribal Governments (365 KB)
Public Safety & Justice (398 KB)
Homeland Security & Emergency Management (324 KB)
Education (343KB)
Healthcare (479KB)
Human Services (337 KB)
Economic & Workforce Development (274KB)
Telecommunications (340 KB)
Agriculture & Rural Development (443KB)
Environmental Protection (517 KB)
Natural Resources (453 KB)
Energy (369 KB)
Housing (194 KB)
Transportation (269 KB)
Historic & Cultural Preservation (331 KB)
Endnotes (56 KB)
Acknowledgments (48 KB)

Suggested Citation: National Congress of American Indians. (January 2016). Fiscal Year 2017 Indian Country Budget Requests: Upholding the Promises, Respecting Tribal Governance: For the Good of the People. Washington, DC: Author.