Oppose Transfer of Bureau of Indian Education from the Department of Interior to the Department of Education

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TITLE: Oppose Transfer of Bureau of Indian Education from the Department of Interior to the Department of Education

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, 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 federal government has a direct moral and legal responsibility – as yet unfilled – to each of the federally recognized American Indian tribes with which it signed treaties; and

WHEREAS, the federal trust responsibility to American Indian tribes establishes a political distinction; not a race-based distinction; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Interior, within which reside the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education, has the primary responsibility for the federal role in American Indian/Alaska Native education; and

WHEREAS, the responsibility for Indian programs has rested with the Department of Interior since its inception in 1849; and over the years, an understanding of the trust responsibility has become a function which Interior employees at all levels have developed some familiarity; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Education is one of the newest, smallest, and most often threatened federal departments; and

WHEREAS, through no fault of their own, Department of Education officials and staff at the policy and programmatic levels know little or nothing about American Indians/Alaska Natives, tribal sovereignty, or the federal trust responsibility; and

WHEREAS, the fundamental role of the federal trust responsibility and respect for tribal sovereignty in Indian Education requires that the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) remain within the U.S. Department of the Interior; and
WHEREAS, to move the BIE to the Department of Education would pose a great risk to the policy foundation developed by American Indians and Alaska Natives over many years.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI does hereby oppose any effort to transfer the BIE to the U.S. Department of Education; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI realizes our Native students transfer among the varied schools – public schools, BIE funded schools, tribal schools, etc. – and it is vital that consistent communication, assessment and collaboration between the Department of Education and Interior occur regularly to support the educational outcomes of our children; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI strongly urges the federal government to focus attention on the need to provide adequate resources necessary to ensure high quality tribal education at all levels, pre-Kindergarten to college; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.