The National Congress of American Indians
TITLE: Support of Inter-Tribal Trade Legislation and the National Native Trade Network
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, each of the Tribes who are members of NCAI have the same responsibility to provide for the health, safety, welfare, education, and economic self-sufficiency of their citizens, as does every other unit of local government in the United States and the world; and
WHEREAS, fulfilling these responsibilities requires tribal governmental income; and
WHEREAS, because historical events have left the Tribes with no real tax base from which to generate the income needed to fulfill these obligations, and federal assistance in these areas has never been even close to adequate to address these obligations, the Tribes who are members of NCAI are, and have always been, seeking ways to diversify and improve our local economies; and
WHEREAS, because recent federal budget cuts have increased the demand on our tribal services and increased the gap between our actual tribal needs and tribal income, and we have little reason to believe that this situation is going to improve significantly in the near future, it has become even more critical for Tribes to focus increased attention on their economic development efforts; and
WHEREAS, many Tribes throughout the United States, have natural resources and tribal and individual Indian produced products which could be used to revitalize their struggling economies, but they lack an effective system to market these items because: (1) the Tribes lack the volume of product necessary to compete effectively in the national and international markets; (2) the Tribes have been unable to generate the capital necessary to expand their production; and (3) the States and local governments have imposed, or have attempted to impose, state taxes and regulatory structures which raise the cost of tribal products to a level which makes it impossible for the Tribes to compete with large retail sellers; and
WHEREAS, history shows us that Tribes once had strong vibrant tribal economics which were based, in large part, upon a system of inter-tribal trade; and
WHEREAS, under these inter-tribal trade networks, our tribes harvested and produced a sizable number of products that were traded in extensive networks across hundreds of miles before they eventually made their way into the non-Indian stream of commerce; and
WHEREAS, history also shows us that these inter-tribal trade networks were of great benefit to the surrounding non-Indian economies, and in fact many of the first non-Indian economies in the United States and Canada were centered around, or directly dependent upon, these inter-tribal systems; and
WHEREAS, the NCAI member tribes have regularly endorsed Inter-tribal trade efforts because they have determined that the re-creation of these inter-tribal trade networks will lead to: increased Indian and non-Indian employment both on and off our tribal lands, the creation and expansion of other Indian and non-Indian owned businesses to support this new development, the expansion of U.S. exports, and a decreased tribal dependency on the federal government for tribes across the United States, all at no cost to the federal government; and
WHEREAS, these are all goals which are shared by all Americans; and
WHEREAS, the Coalition of Large Tribes (COLT) has prepared draft legislation which is critical to the success of this effort.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI does hereby support legislation to establish the Inter-Tribal Trade Act of 2013 and calls upon all of the members of the Congress to sponsor, co-sponsor and work to insure the immediate passage of this important piece of legislation; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon Congress and the President to promote and secure the enact of Indian Commerce Legislation that acknowledges the authority of Indian nations and tribes to regulate all Indian Commerce on Indian reservations and lands and between Indian reservations and lands, acknowledges the authority of Indian nations and tribes to re-establish our National Native Trade Network without interference from Federal or state laws, and pre-empts contrary state laws, regulations and taxation authority; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon the President and the Secretary of the Interior to modernize the Federally Licensed Indian Trader Regulations to provide for a National Indian Traders License for Indian nations and tribes seeking to engage in the National Native Trade Network and thereby promote the economy of Indian country, delegate such licensing and enforcement authority through 638 Contracts and Self-Governance Compacts, and recognize tribal authority over reservation commerce and pre-empt contrary state laws, regulations and taxation authority; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI calls upon all Indian nations and tribes, regional and national Indian organizations to support legislation to enact Inter-Tribal Trade Act of 2013, and a National Native Trade Network, implementing legislation, and modernization of the Federal Indian Traders License regulations; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that NCAI specifically calls upon Senate Indian Affairs Committee and House Natural Resources Committee to immediately introduce this legislation and request Congress and the Administration to take the steps necessary to enact this legislation; 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 2013 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Cox Business Center from October 13 - 18, 2013 in Tulsa, Oklahoma with a quorum present.