Support for full Tribal Participation through Self-Determination and Self-Governance in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrition Programs

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TITLE: Support for full Tribal Participation through Self-Determination and Self-Governance in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrition Programs

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 NCAI recognizes the significance of the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) as this federal feeding program provides sustenance on a monthly basis to more than 90,000 American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) members nationwide; and

WHEREAS, the USDA has many programs intended to provide supplemental nutrition to over 25% of all AI/AN people nationwide with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Food Distribution on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), and Women, Infant and Children (WIC) programs alone serving over 600,000 people annually; and

WHEREAS, tribes recognize their membership, these programs serve and nourish their families for WIC; numerous families are receiving SNAP; numerous households participate in FDPIR; and many of our most vulnerable receive assistance from these programs; and

WHEREAS, tribes find it detrimental to in any way negatively impact the funding or administration of these programs that provide nutritional resources to its Nation and other Tribal Nations who are high poverty and faced with disproportionality in health and welfare issues statistically; and

WHEREAS, the FY 2018 proposed federal budget imposes significant reduction for these crucial programs; and

WHEREAS, it is of concern there is discussion of requiring a pilot work requirement to the SNAP program which would significantly and negatively affect our citizens participation who live in communities of high unemployment due to lack of job opportunities; and

WHEREAS, many American Indians are faced with geographical isolation which prohibits many from employment opportunities; and

WHEREAS, it is not reasonable to ask tribal membership who are facing poverty, rural, remote or isolated location, higher rates of unemployment, with real hardship to either seek employment within their territory where employment opportunity is low or to travel to outside communities imposing even more hardship; and

WHEREAS, changing climate and other environmental factors have had an adverse effect on the availability of traditional native foods such as salmon that would provide much needed nutrition to tribal members; and

WHEREAS, furthermore, these proposals only harm the government-to-government relationship tribal governments seek to maintain with their federal counterparts as well as create barriers for our membership who work well with their Nation or Tribe and would rather not work with the State agencies due to ongoing poor relationships and fear of reprisal; and

WHEREAS, these proposals would hinder much needed nutrition to tribal membership; and

WHEREAS, NCAI recognizes the USDA and their programs who have built long-standing relationships in order for tribal membership to thrive.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) hereby supports the USDA nutrition programs and calls upon the United States Congress to fund all federal feeding programs at a minimum in FY 2019 and beyond the programs at current funding levels; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI supports all Tribes having the option to enter into Self-Determination Contracts and Self-Governance Compacts pursuant to PL 93-638 for administration of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and all other federal feeding programs; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI also calls upon the Administration and Congress to refrain from imposing new constraints for participation or block granting such programs to the states all of which will hinder health and wellness and access to resources for nutrition and health; and

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