TITLE: Calling on Congress and the Department of Homeland Security to Establish an Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs and a Tribal Advisory Council
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 and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 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, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of the youngest federal agencies and engages with tribal nations and thousands of tribal citizens on a daily basis; and
WHEREAS, despite their ongoing presence in Indian Country, DHS does not have an Assistant Secretary who solely focuses on the capabilities of tribal nations or an advisory body of tribal citizens from Indian Country to advise the Secretary of Homeland Security on tribal homeland security and tribal emergency management issues; and
WHEREAS, tribal nations have needs and strategic advantages which are vastly different from state or local governments; and
WHEREAS, tribal nations have been largely left out of Homeland Security funding and efforts, making Indian Country a weak link in the National Security Plan, which could be remedied by proper planning and investments into tribal nations; and
WHEREAS, despite their lack of funding, tribal nation emergency management and public safety personnel put their lives on the line daily to protect tribal citizens and non-Indians in the face of natural disasters, man-made disasters, and terror attacks; and
WHEREAS, DHS has a trust responsibility to assist tribal nations in protecting all citizens, Indian and non-Indian, who are within their tribal jurisdictions.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) calls upon Congress to pass legislation to establish an Assistant Secretary of Tribal Affairs in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon Congress to pass legislation establishing the Tribal Advisory Council for the DHS similar to the proposed Department of Veterans Tribal Affairs Committee, which will directly advise the Secretary of Homeland Security; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon the DHS to immediately establish a Tribal Advisory Council to advise the Secretary of Homeland Security on tribal homeland security and emergency management issues and needs; 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 2019 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Albuquerque Convention Center, October 20-25, 2019, with a quorum present.