Resolution Modified: 05-02-12
TO CEASE UNFOUNDED DISMANTLING OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS, TO REAFFIRM THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY OF THE BUREAU OF INDIAN AFFAIRS TO PROVIDE THE SERVICES OUTLINED IN ITS BUDGET PROPOSALS, RESTORE SELF-DETERMINATION AND LOCAL AND REGIONAL CONTROL, TO HONOR THE TREATY AND TRUST RESPONSIBILITY OF THE UNITED STATES AND TO SEEK THE FUNDING REQUIRED TO MEET THE TRIBE’S ACTUAL NEEDS IN EACH OF THESE AREAS.
WHEREAS, the Great Plains (formerly Aberdeen Area) Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) is composed of the elected Chairs and Presidents of the 16 Sovereign Indian Tribes and Nations recognized by Treaties with the United States that are within the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association was formed to promote the common interests of the Sovereign Tribes and Nations and their members of the Great Plains Region which comprises the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska; and
WHEREAS, through its treaties, statues, Constitution, international law and well-articulated policies, the United States assumed a legal responsibility to protect Indian Tribes; provide them with certain goods and services, guarantee the right of Tribal self-government, guarantee the protection and safety of tribal members, and promote the viability of Indian reservations and lands as permanent homelands for tribes; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was established to implement these core trust and treaty obligations of the United States, and
WHEREAS, the BIA Mission Statement is “To enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives.” and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs is, and has been since its inception, the primary federal agency which is ultimately responsible for providing the Tribes with adequate education, law enforcement, burial, tribal governmental assistance, land and natural resource enhancement and protection, social services and many of their other most critically needed services provided to the Tribes under their Treaties; and
WHEREAS, these monies and services are not provided by the BIA or the United States as gratuitous grants, they are instead entitlements which the Tribes of the Great Plains Region negotiated for in Treaties for the direct exchange of the land and other rights they were forced to give up in their Treaties; and
WHEREAS, this separates these BIA programs and services from the other federally funded programs and services which are currently included in the discretionary budget of the United States; and
WHEREAS, while all of the federal agencies of the United States have a treaty and trust responsibility to the Tribes of the Great Plains Region, only the Bureau of Indian Affairs is designed, structured, staffed and funded in the manner necessary to insure the provision of these trust and treaty based services on a constant, timely and reoccurring basis; and
WHEREAS, the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget has never been adequate to meet the agency’s obligations and it has actually fallen even further behind the actual need over the course of the last ten years; and
WHEREAS, rather than increasing the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget to address this shortfall, the Department of Interior (DOI), Indian Affairs, has started moving many of its services to other federal entities outside of the BIA such as AS-IA, OST, Law Enforcement, BIE and DOI. AS-IA, DOI, and OST do not use the Indian Preference in hiring, and most of their staff consist of non-Indian employees. These employees will never work for Tribes which was one of the purposes of Indian Preference. In addition, these offices are located in central locations which are at a great distance from the Indian Tribes and people that they serve, making it difficult for the Tribes to work directly with these divisions at the local level; and
WHEREAS, the DOI, Indian Affairs, has also begun to transfer many core support services out of the BIA into the DOI and into other divisions in Interior and even to other federal agencies; and
WHEREAS, because the DOI, Indian Affairs & Bureau of Indian Affairs and the present and past Administrations have failed to request the funds required to meet the United States’ trust responsibilities in these core areas, the Tribes have been forced to seek an ever increasing percentage of their core funding for law enforcement, courts, roads, education, home repair and a variety of other treaty based programs through competitive grants from other federal agencies; and
WHEREAS, this movement away from adequate funding for the BIA and towards the Tribe’s need to rely on competitive grants from other federal agencies, has led to a decrease in the services provided, and it has undermined the Tribe’s basic ability to manage their programs; and
WHEREAS, the tribal and BIA programs most affected by this change in federal policy are core Governmental programs like law enforcement, education, transportation and social services which need a stable and reliable federal budget in order to properly operate Large Tribal Governments; and
WHEREAS, the Tribal Nations most affected are the Large Tribes who operate large governments, much like states with large populations numerous Communities, extensive land base, numerous Tribal Programs, i.e. Law enforcement Departments, School Systems, Transportation Departments, hundreds of Housing sites, water systems, etc. and,
WHEREAS, competitive grants are inadequate to serve the Large Governments and Sovereign Nations who signed Treaties in good faith; and
WHEREAS, unlike the BIA funding which is available on the first day of the fiscal year, the funding coming from other federal agencies is often not made available until the third or fourth quarter of the fiscal year, forcing tribal governments to delay important procurements hire and then lay off staff, and even go into debt in order to keep their core treaty based programs operating; and
WHEREAS, all of this is in flagrant violation of the federal government’s trust responsibility; and
WHEREAS, virtually all of these changes in federal policy have come about without any real tribal consultation, and this failure to consult violates the stated policy of the United States, in particular Executive Order 13175 and the stated policy of Interior, Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, many of these federal decisions have undermined Indian preference, tribal consultation, tribal contracting policies and jeopardizing Tribal Governments; and
WHEREAS, collectively these decisions have the end result of diminishing the role of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Tribes of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association call upon the Obama Administration and the Congress of the United States to cease this planned massive dismantling of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the result of which has been to purposely diminish the trust responsibilities of the Federal Government to Indian Tribes; and to restore to BIA all of its original functions which have been removed to other entities, such as: AS-IA, including all of its BIA administrative and program functions, and particularly the IT function; BIE; Law Enforcement; and to sunset OST as mandated by statute and to return its functions to BIA; to place most BIA functional responsibilities at the regional and local levels; to fully implement the Indian Preference laws in hiring and contracting in all BIA functions, positions and activities; to reaffirm that Indian Tribes are the primary customers and stakeholders of the BIA, and not the employees of the Department of the Interior; to reaffirm that the Bureau of Indian Affairs primary responsibility is to provide the services outlined in its budget proposals and strategic plans; to restore self-determination; to honor the Treaty Responsibilities of the United States; to actively seek the funding required to meet the Tribe’s actual needs in both program and administrative areas; and to manage those funds by BIA and its Indian employees and not by other federal entities; and to expend those funds for the purpose for which they were appropriated, i.e., Indian Tribes and individual Indians.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association until otherwise amended or rescinded.
Resolution No. 34-10-25-11
This resolution was enacted at a duly called meeting of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association held at Rapid City, South Dakota on October 25, 2011 at which a quorum was present, with 8 members voting in favor, 0 members opposed, 0 members not abstaining, and 8 members not present.
Resolution modified: 05-02-12 at a meeting of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association held at Rapid City, SD. On May 2, 2012 with a quorum present of 9 Members voting in favor, 0 members opposed and 0 members abstaining, and 7 members not present.
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