WASHINGTON — “In a show of unity, organizations across the country reject Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) continued unwarranted attacks on Native American federal contractors,” said Kevin Allis, Executive Director of the Native American Contractors Association (NACA), and tribal member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community.
“Indian Country is unfairly facing a number of cumulative efforts to hamper economic development in our Native communities across the country,” stated Jackie Johnson-Pata, Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians. “Ridiculous attacks on the Native 8(a) Program from Senator McCaskill, restrictions on placing land into trust, and continued assaults on taxation issues targeting Indian Gaming and tobacco sales, have all been extremely damaging to the achievement of self-determination that this nation has promised Indian Country,” stated Johnson-Pata.
On Monday, June 30, 2014, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) calling for records on all joint venture Alaska Native Corporation (ANC) contracts and all benefits reports filed by ANCs since the implementation of the March 14, 2011 SBA 8(a) Business Development Program revised rules.
In a follow up to the letter Senator McCaskill’s office published a press release on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, stating that the Senator “demanded” answers from the SBA and has introduced legislation to “crack down on waste and abuse in contracting by eliminating the unique government contracting preferences and loopholes for ANCs.” Senator McCaskill claims that, “ANCs are circumvent[ing] the federal contracting process, and that the benefits were not reaching disadvantaged Alaskan Natives.”
“This statement is simply not true,” stated Allis. “Native participation in the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program has been extremely successful in fostering economic development in Indian Country, while providing enormous value to the federal government. We are tired of being repeatedly struck down in our mission towards self-sufficiency by biased and uninformed leaders of our country that have flatly refused to take the time to objectively learn about Indian Country, its history, and its needs. Senator McCaskill knows nothing about us, and refused invitations to glean a better understanding of Indian Country,” continued Allis.
Reports and statistics have proven false the allegation that benefits are not flowing to disadvantaged Native Americans. “Based on the 2012 NACA Economic Impact Report, NACA members invested more than $111 million in profits back into their communities, including, but not limited to, reinvestment of net profits to grow their community-owned businesses, investment in health care for members and shareholders, language and culture preservation, and educational scholarships for their young people,” stated Allis.
In an immediate response statement on Wednesday, Alaska Senator Mark Begich stated, “I’m afraid my colleague, Senator McCaskill – through her narrow lens as a ‘government oversight and efficiencies guru’ – has trouble understanding Alaska history, even with my repeated attempts to reason with her. This includes why our Native American tribes, ANCs and Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHO) share a unique government-to-government relationship with the United States.”
Senator Begich went on to say that, “The work performed by these entities through the Small Business Administration’s Native 8(a) Program is critical. The benefits they provide through the 8(a) program, including scholarships, services, jobs and dividends, support some of the most economically challenged areas of the country and improves the lives of thousands. Just because ANCs have seen economic growth and success, as they were intended to do, doesn’t mean they deserve this type of targeted attack from a sitting senator who simply refuses to try and understand the history and culture of a great state like Alaska.”
“The continual attack by Senator McCaskill is unfounded and contradictory to the actual facts concerning our Native communities, particularly the Alaska Native community which is one of the most underserved populations in the country,” said Jason Metrokin, Board Chairman of the ANSCA Regional Association. “The bottom line is that Native federal contracting creates jobs, which creates self-sufficiency, which then alleviates potential increased costs on taxpayers through the decreased need for federal programs to support those that may not otherwise qualify without the jobs or income generated from these Native businesses,” said Metrokin.
“The Native 8(a) Program is a win-win for Indian Country and the federal government, but Senator McCaskill is trying her hardest to turn this success story to a lose-lose, at the expense of valuable taxpayer recourses,” stated Allis. “We ask her colleagues in the Senate to reject this nonsensical and disingenuous effort that singles out Native Americans.