From the Pueblo of Isleta, whose innovative partnership with the State of New Mexico is reducing arrest and incarceration rates among Pueblo youth by providing them culturally appropriate diversionary services designed to set them on the right path…
To the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, whose “Miami Awakening” program is bringing back the tribe’s language from the brink of extinction, and the strengthening of its people’s cultural identity and kinship ties with one another in the process…
To the Coeur d’Alene Tribe in Idaho, whose “Education Pipeline” approach identifies and fills gaps in the systems of academic support for its students, which has dramaticallydecreased the Tribe’s high school dropout rate and increased the percentage of tribal members pursuing college degrees.
Tribal nations are doing amazing things, and we could do so much more if the federal government would finally, once and for all, abide by the timeless pact it made with us so long ago to create the country that we share today. We have held up our end of this arrangement. It is long past time the United States upheld its end of the agreement.
To that end, Indian Country issues a new standard of accountability to the federal government to uphold tribal sovereignty and treaty rights in all of the ways for which it has been – and always will be – legally and morally responsible.
This accountability begins with a genuine commitment to truth and reconciliation with tribal nations, a process through which the United States can fully acknowledge its past transgressions against us so it can avoid repeating them in the future.
This accountability also means affirming tribal governmental parity not just when it suits one’s political agenda, but in every single policy decision.
It requires every elected official and political appointee in Congress and the Administration to learn and faithfully execute their leadership responsibilities to fulfill the federal government’s trust and treaty obligations to tribal nations.
For federal agency staff, it means dutifully implementing – and not actively impairing – legislation that empowers tribal self-determination and self-governance.
For all of our federal counterparts, we will hold you to this highest standard … It is not enough that you fully uphold tribal self-determination in the specific ways your position requires. You must hold your colleagues accountable to do the same.
Whenever you have a policy decision before you, you must ask, “How will my decision impact Indian Country? Will it empower tribal sovereignty, or will it diminish tribal sovereignty?”