A New Decade, A New Tribal Spirit
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has established national Native goals in a speech in Washington, DC given by Jefferson Keel, President of NCAI. It gave much details and historic background on what Alaska Native and Native American Tribes have as their social and economic problems and conditions.
It was about empowerment of our people and implementing hope for our tribal people of Indian Country, USA. The speech encouraged gaining a stronger voice in our tribal affairs suggesting that we have something to pass on to the next generation of our tribal people. It further stated with strong emphasis that we have our social and economic needs met.
At the reservation level we as Native people are very familiar with what needs to happen and get done for your particular areas where you reside and live your life. NCAI is our Native Advocacy Organization that confronts Congress, Congressional Committees, Federal Agencies, policy makers, lawmakers and those influencing the legislation of our Native people. NCAI has been working in our behalf since 1944 and has made many accomplishments in our behalf of us tribes.
We as individual tribal members should make a stronger voice for NCAI and find out what the national Native Goals are for each year it makes a major presentation to the Presidential Administration, US. House of Representatives and US Senators. The follow up on these national goals lobbying, giving testimonies to different congressional committees and to key people in Washington, DC.
What can we as tribal people add to their work as they confront those that make the laws governing Indian Country, USA. We make a stronger voice by collectively writing letters to our elected officials, request field hearings on legislation on Indian Affairs in the areas where we live or visit the congressional field offices in the states and spend time with congressional staff at state offices, some states have several field offices for our congressional delegation.What do we do or say to these staff people working on issues not only confronting Natives but they are busy on the public at large issues.
What do we know? We live and work on our reservations, we know first had what is confronting us at the reservation level, we know our economic conditions, we know the jobless rate, we know that there is no work, we know the Native health issues, we know that additional programs are need to have a more stable economic environment for the good of our tribal people. We know the problems of our youth, young adults, adults and our senior citizens.
In this new decade let us take great strides in creating a better life for the good of all our tribal people across Indian Country, USA. It is time to build new tribal economies and study what steps we need to do to bring and improve our tribal economies. We will readily see that most of our reservations for goods and services tribal revenues are spent off our reservations instead of spending our tribal revenue on reservations.
Example, some tribes have no tribal utility companies and thus have to depend upon off reservation utility companies. This means dollars are spent off reservations for utility services. To get the tribal revenues spent on reservations tribes can implement having their own tribal utility companies and thus create substantial tribal earnings.
The spending that goes off reservations is known as an economic leakage. To keep dollars on reservations create economic opportunities to spend tribal dollars on our tribal reservations. By doing this is a way to become prosperous. To become further prosperous once tribal utility companies are in place look at alternative energy opportunities with the creation of tribal energy parks that can sell energy to utility companies. This by itself creates jobs, creates revenue and greatly builds substantial tribal wealth development.
If we do economic analysis of our reservations and see where our tribal monies go we would readily see dollars in most cases go off reservations.In this new decade let us in Indian Country have elimination of poverty, creation of better Native health care and services, creation of tribal businesses that focus on bring tribal economic betterment to the tribal settings. For several decades we have lived in poverty and it is time to end poverty in this new decade.
Our ancestors and tribal leaders of the past and current tribal leadership need to be honored and we do this by creating our individual voice expressing the goals of NCAI, Tribal Goals, Tribal Regional Goals for we have the tools to make a major impact upon Washington, DC. We have online websites that advocate different issues confronting the poor of this nation America.
We have computer to create statements, to send testimonies to Congressional Committees, to different federal agencies, we have online ability to contact other organizations working in our behalf like The Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) a Quaker Lobby in the public interest keep watch on Native Legislation and networks with tribes, sends out legislative alerts to keep our Native People informed on legislation for Alaska Native and Native Americans. Their website: http://www.fcnl.org/nativeam/
The efforts of our great Alaska Native and Native American tribal leaderships needs to be honored and respected for their gallant efforts being made in our behalf in Washington, DC. A Yuma Indian by name of Chiparooni once said, “Yes, we know that when you come, we die.” Let us reverse these words that depict a conquered nation, and a defeated people. Lets awaken our Native greatness to bring life to our Native Nations.
In the speech seven action steps were presented to the Administration and Congress. Stated that the steps will create jobs, expand health care; improve education, address crime, and more.
The Action Steps:
- First, take action to restore tribal lands and allow us to use our land as we see fit.
- Second, is to address law enforcement.
- Third, is to guarantee equal treatment under the law by granting tribal governments the same treatment as state and local governments on tax and finance matters.
- Fourth, is an investment in our children so that they grow into healthy youth and become the next generation of tribal leaders, community members, and business leaders?
- Fifth, is to ensure effective distribution of funds to tribal governments.
- Sixth, is interagency coordination to improve tribal infrastructure.
- Seventh, finally, we need the Administration to support legislative fix for last year’s Carcieri decision by the Supreme Court.
We now have before us seven action steps as adopted by our tribal leaders. How will we respond to these action steps to ensure they receive proper attention and are met? How will we move our national Native goals through the US House of Representative and the US Senate and that the Office of the President is aware of these goals? Will our own tribal governments make sure these goals are met? Some tribes pass their own tribal resolutions to present to Congress and will the tribes do this?
This writer has confronted some of our US Representatives and US Senators and always ask them how much of an impact does a single letter regarding legislation make upon their decision for passage or no vote on it. Their response is that a single letter to them can be important enough to consider passage or no vote.
So, letters to our elected are of importance. Some of us do not have the opportunity have of going to Washington, DC; will each state has US Senator and US House of Representative State Offices. We can confront staff of the Senator or Representative in your home state.
Besides the adopted action steps each Tribe has their issues to present. Some states have Native Organizations to assist tribes; like in Pacific Northwest States there is Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians that present regional issues to Congress. In Southwest there is Intertribal Council of Arizona, Inc that works on regional issues of Arizona. Other regions have similar tribal organizations advocate issues of tribes.
Let's have a new decade of bring much social and economic betterment to the life of our tribal people. In 11 States we have 28 Native State Legislatures. In Montana it has a Native Official for Office of Public Instruction in charge of all of educational matters in that state. In Arizona it has a Navajo candidate running for office of Secretary of State. So, Natives are turning out to vote both in the primary and general elections.
Let's work to bring prosperity to the life of our reservation settings and stop the economic leakages like off reservation utility companies. We spend lot of our dollars off of our reservations and by stopping economic leakages we spend monies on our reservations this brings to our reservations a much-improved tribal economies. We see some gaming tribes joining forces to address their tribal economies.
If all tribes do this we can have new tribal economies and this can be done through alternative energy by formation of Tribal Energy Parks for all of America will need 70% more electricity. Every tribe has solar, wind, water, falling water and biomass to convert into energy. Already through Department of Energy Tribal Energy Programs several tribes have done feasibility studies to see what will work for their reservation settings.
We need to go step further and create energy parks to not only become energy independent but also sell needed energy to our neighbors.
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