WASHINGTON – For the first time in decades, tribal nations will receive full payment on contracts signed with the federal government.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) have submitted plans to pay their 2014 contracts with tribes in full, according to the information released by the National Congress of American Indians.
This action comes on the heels of last year’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings that deemed tribes are owed money by the federal government.
While this latest development addresses the current year budget, it does not address the bllions of dollars owed to tribes over the past several decades.
Under the Indian Self-Determination Act, the United States enters into inter-governmental contracts with tribes under which tribes administer federal programs for the benefit of tribal members. The Indian Self-Determination Act represents the cornerstone of this nation’s federal policy toward tribes for more than a third of a century and represents one of the most successful policy eras for tribes in history.
Yet, time and time again, BIA and IHS have failed to pay the contract support costs in full while expecting the programs to be fulfilled completely. This cycle of negotiating contracts and then refusing to pay the agreed upon amount has prevented tribes from achieving self-determination and progress towards self-sufficiency. When Indian contract and self-governance compact contract support costs are short funded, tribes are actually penalized for exercising their self-determination rights, by being compelled to reduce program operations to cover these unavoidable costs.
“This issue has affected real people’s lives,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (Washington –D) chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
For additional background information on Contract Support Costs, please read NCAI’s full report on Contract Support Costs or the summary briefing document.