This Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Budget Request outlines federal programs and services that are critical components of strong tribal governments, economies, and communities. The programs highlighted in this document are an integral part of fulfilling the federal government’s treaty and trust obligations. They have been identified by experts from across the country and through federal budget formulation processes between tribal leaders and federal agencies.
A section on supplemental appropriations in response to COVID-19 is included in this year’s publication. While pandemic response legislation has included Indian Country, the duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates significantly more resources to protect and preserve human life and address the grave social and economic impacts faced by tribal nations as they close government operations and tribal enterprises to protect the health of their citizens and surrounding communities.
Tribal nations seek only those things promised to them and their citizens by the solemn treaties and agreements reached between tribal nations and the United States. Tribal nations paid in full for the federal promises exchanged when they ceded millions of acres of land that made the United States what it is today. Tribal nations are resilient and have demonstrated their resolve and dedication since time immemorial; however, tribal nations are uniquely reliant on the federal government to fulfill the promises made in exchange for the land that is the foundation of the bounty and wealth of the United States.
The federal trust responsibility, one of the most important doctrines in federal Indian law, derives from the treaties between tribal nations and the U.S. government. It is the obligation of the federal government, including all of its branches and agencies, to protect tribal self-governance, tribal lands, assets, resources, and treaty rights, and to carry out the directions of federal statutes and court cases. The Supreme Court has defined this trust responsibility as a “moral obligation of the highest responsibility and trust” (Seminole Nation v. United States, 1942).
Funding this trust responsibility is critical to the fulfillment of the fiduciary relationship of the United States with tribal nations. This funding supports the express support of the United States for tribal self-determination and self-governance, which is critical to redressing the socio-economic disparities experienced by American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ ANs). In support of this collective goal, tribal nations call for the inclusion of the following recommendations in FY 2022 appropriations.