Friday, November 2, 2012

Obama Administration Record for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Obama Administration Record for American Indians and Alaska Natives
“I believe that one day, we’re going to be able to look back on these years and say that this was
a turning point.  This was the moment when we began to build a strong middle class in Indian
Country; the moment when businesses, large and small, began opening up in reservations; the
moment when we stopped repeating the mistakes of the past, and began building a better future
together, one that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American
Dream.” - President Barack Obama, December 2, 2011
Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have made tremendous progress on
the major issues of concern to Indian Country.  Underlying this progress is President Obama’s
belief that tribal leaders must be part of the solution to problems and have a seat at the table.  The
President has hosted White House Tribal Nations Conferences, where tribal leaders have had
discussions with the President and Cabinet officials. In addition, the President signed a
memorandum directing Federal agencies to fully implement an Executive Order on tribal
consultation. These actions have led to greater tribal consultation and feedback, which has
helped shape the Administration’s policy priorities for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
These include improving the quality of care offered by the Indian Health Service, promoting
economic development in Indian Country, and making tribal communities safer. The Obama
Administration’s record in support of Native Americans includes:
• Strengthening the Government-to-Government Relationship: In 2009, President Obama
signed a memorandum to signal a new era in the government-to-government relationship
with Indian Tribes. The President directed every agency to develop detailed plans to fully
implement Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Tribal
Governments.” Federal agencies have submitted the required plans and progress reports, and
consultations are at historic levels.  In addition, the President has hosted three White House
Tribal Nations Conferences, inviting tribal leaders from each of the 565 Federally recognized
tribes to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior Administration officials.  Consistent with
the Administration’s goal to strengthen the government-to-government relationship, in
December 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced support
for amending Federal law to allow Federally recognized Indian tribes to make emergency or
disaster declaration requests directly to the President.        
• Improving Health Care:  President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which
is improving the quality of health care and making it more accessible and affordable for all
Americans, including Native Americans. The law permanently authorized the Indian Health
Care Improvement Act, the cornerstone legal authority for the provision of health care to
American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Act ensures new and expanded programs and
services available for those who use the Indian Health Service, which includes approximately
two million American Indians and Alaska Natives. American Indians and Alaska Natives are
also eligible for tax credits and cost sharing assistance through Affordable Insurance
Exchanges. In addition, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move in Indian Country
which brings together Federal agencies, local communities, nonprofits, corporate partners,
and tribes to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation by
creating a healthy start on life for children; ensuring families have access to healthy,
affordable, and traditional foods; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.To download this PDF, visit
• Promoting Sustainable Economic Development in Indian Country:  President Obama has
taken significant steps to promote the economic well-being of Native Americans.  Through
the Recovery Act, President Obama provided more than $3 billion to help tribal communities
renovate schools on reservations, spur job creation in tribal economies, improve housing and
energy efficiency, and support health facilities and policing services.  Recognizing that
Indian Country faces unique challenges when it comes to sustainable economic development,
the White House Rural Council is working across Federal agencies to address these
challenges and promote economic prosperity and quality of life in Indian Country and across
rural America.  The Administration has made important investments in infrastructure to
support economic development in Indian Country.  Both the Department of Agriculture and
the Department of Commerce have dedicated programs to bring high-speed, affordable
broadband into tribal communities and have awarded loans and grants worth over $1.5 billion
for projects to benefit tribal areas.
• Making Tribal Communities Safer:  President Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order
Act (TLOA) into law in July 2010.  The TLOA gives tribes greater sentencing authority;
improves defendants’ rights; establishes new guidelines and training for officers handling
domestic violence and sex crimes; strengthens services to victims; helps combat alcohol and
drug abuse; helps at-risk youth; and expands recruitment and retention of Bureau of Indian
Affairs and tribal officers and gives them better access to criminal databases.  Also, in July
2011, the Department of Justice submitted a legislative proposal to Congress that would
recognize certain tribes’ power to exercise concurrent criminal authority over domestic
violence cases, regardless of whether the defendant is Indian or a non-Indian. This proposal
would significantly improve safety for Native American women and allow Federal and tribal
law enforcement agencies to hold more perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for
their crimes.
• Resolving Longstanding Disputes:  President Obama has resolved several significant and
longstanding Native American legal claims against the United States.  In 2010, the
Administration reached a $760 million settlement with Native American farmers and
ranchers in the Keepseagle case, which alleged discrimination by the Department of
Agriculture (USDA) in loan programs. President Obama also signed into law the Claims
Resolution Act which includes the Cobell settlement agreement.  This class-action lawsuit
regarding the U.S. government’s trust management and accounting of over 300,000
individual American Indian trust accounts had been long-running and highly contentious.
The Claims Resolution Act also included four water settlements, benefitting seven tribes in
Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.  In addition, in October 2011, the Administration
reached a final settlement of a long-standing lawsuit by the Osage Tribe.  The United States
will pay the Osage Nation $380 million to compensate historical losses to its trust funds and
interest income as a result of the government’s management of trust assets.
• Addressing Indigenous Issues:  The President announced the United States’ support of the
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in response to calls from
many tribal leaders. President Obama and his Administration are working to improve
relations with indigenous peoples by looking to the principles embodied in the Declaration in To download this PDF, visit
its dealings with Federally recognized tribes, while also working with all indigenous
individuals and communities in the United States.    
• Supporting Education:  In December 2011, President Obama signed an Executive Order
that established the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education
to help expand educational opportunities and improve outcomes for these communities.  This
initiative will help give each hard working member of these communities a fair shot at
getting into college or finding a job, and will strengthen tribal colleges and universities.
• Ensuring Greater Representation for Native Americans:  To ensure that Native
Americans are represented in this Administration, President Obama appointed Larry Echo
Hawk of the Pawnee Nation as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Dr.
Yvette Roubideaux of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe as the Director of the Indian Health Service,
Hilary Tompkins of the Navajo Nation as the Solicitor of the Interior, Lillian Sparks of the
Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes as Commissioner for the Administration for Native
Americans, Tracie Stevens of the Tulalip Tribes as Chairwoman of the National Indian
Gaming Commission, Charles Galbraith of the Navajo Nation as Associate Director of the
White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Kimberly Teehee of the Cherokee Nation
as Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Domestic Policy Council, and others. Working
with tribal leaders, this team is helping shape Federal policies that impact tribal communities.
• Expanding Access to Federal Contracting for Businesses Owned by American Indians
and Alaska Natives: The White House launched an interagency initiative to increase
contracting with small businesses. Through Fiscal Year 2011, over 30 percent of Federal
agency Recovery Act contracting dollars, totaling nearly $11 billion, have gone into the
hands of small businesses; more than 16 percent, totaling $6 billion, went to minority-owned
firms.  Additionally, for non-Recovery Act funds, small businesses owned by American
Indians and Alaska Natives were awarded nearly $8.7 billion in Fiscal Year 2010 alone.
• Cutting Taxes and Expanding Access to Credit for Businesses Owned by American
Indians and Alaska Natives: President Obama has helped firms owned by American
Indians and Alaska natives by cutting taxes for small businesses and helping them get the
loans they need to grow and hire. Between 2009 and 2011, over 1,000 Small Business
Administration supported-loans, totaling nearly $328 million, went to small businesses
owned by American Indians and Alaska Natives.
• Fighting for Economic Security for American Indian and Alaska Native Families: In the
last two years, 3.9 million private sector jobs have been created. Putting Americans back to
work and restoring economic security to families struggling because of the economic crisis
remains the President’s top priority. He’s taken a series of steps to spur economic growth, get
Americans back to work, and restore middle class security.
o Putting Americans Back to Work: In 2009, President Obama signed the American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act, creating jobs, spurring economic growth, and
investing in our communities. A report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget To download this PDF, visit
Office showed that the Recovery Act, at its peak impact, increased employment by as
many as 3.5 million jobs.
o Taking Action to Strengthen the Recovery: The President fought to continue the
payroll tax cut into 2012, ensuring that taxes do not go up on nearly 1.5 million
American Indian and Alaska Native workers, and to extend unemployment insurance
so that Americans looking for work do not lose this crucial support. In addition, the
President has put forward a broader jobs package that would cut taxes for small
businesses, put teachers and first responders back on the job, help the unemployed get
back to work, and rebuild our infrastructure.
o Providing Tax Relief for American Indian and Alaska Native  Families: In
December 2010, the President passed a bipartisan tax cut agreement that not only
secured vital tax relief and investments for our workers, but is also creating jobs and
accelerating economic growth. Building off the Recovery Act, the tax agreement
extended key expansions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit.

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