President Obama’s FY 2017 Budget Request for Indian Affairs Increases Funding That Supports Strong, Resilient Tribal Nations for Today & Future Generations

To foster public-private partnerships to improve student experiences at BIE-funded schools, the request proposes appropriations language enabling the Secretary of the Interior to activate the National Foundation for American Indian Education.  The foundation’s mission will be to raise funds for creating opportunities for Indian students in and out of the classroom.  The request also includes an increase of $3.6 million for Johnson-O’Malley grants, which is funding primarily distributed by tribes to non-BIE schools to support the education of their Indian students.

The FY 2017 budget request includes an additional $2 million to support tribal youth participation in BIA programs that focus on management of tribal natural resources through science, education and cultural learning.  These programs provide job opportunities, instill respect for resources and engender an appreciation of the important role that natural resources play in tribal cultures and economics.  The request will support approximately 60 new tribal youth projects and training programs throughout Indian Country, and supplement existing training programs within the BIA’s forestry, water and agricultural programs.

In addition, the President’s budget includes other federal agencies through Generation Indigenous that support educational outcomes and provide wrap-around services to help address barriers and provide opportunities for Native youth.  These new investments will build on current efforts to better coordinate services for Native youth and demonstrate results across the federal government.

Supporting Indian Families and Protecting Indian Country

Tribal communities often experience disproportionate rates of poverty and a lack of access to services.  Tribal leaders have expressed concern about the need to preserve tribal communities by supporting Indian family cohesiveness and stability while also promoting safe tribal communities.

As part of his commitment to protecting and promoting Indian families and communities, the President’s FY 2017 budget request for the BIA supports tribal communities by investing $21 million in program increases to support continued expansion of the Tiwahe initiative.  Tiwahe, which means family in the Lakota language, promotes a comprehensive, integrated and community-based approach to support child welfare, family stability, and strengthening tribal communities as a whole.  The initiative requests increases across human services, public safety, courts and job training programs. The initiative directly supports the Generation Indigenous objective of leveraging BIA programs in concert with other federal programs to support family and community stability and cultural awareness.

The budget request includes $17.4 million over FY 2016 for BIA Human Services programs, with increases of:

  • $12.3 million for Social Services to provide additional resources to tribes and tribal organizations to build and enhance capacity within their Social Services program;
  • $3.4 million for Indian Child Welfare Act programs that work with social services programs and courts to maintain the placement of children within their tribal community, where possible, to avoid the trauma of removal; and
  • $1.7 million to improve access to suitable housing for Indian families with children.

To support family stability and to promote public safety, the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) works with tribal courts to address the underlying causes of repeat offenses by making mental health services, alternatives to incarceration and other support services more widely available.  In 2017, BIA-OJS will continue pilot programs aimed at reducing recidivism at five sites by three percent by September 30, 2017.  The FY 2017 budget request invests an additional $2.6 million for tribal courts.  This funding will be used to ensure the judicial branch of targeted tribal public safety systems can function effectively to meet family and community needs under the Tiwahe Initiative.

BIA-OJS also provides technical assistance to tribal governments seeking to update their legal codes to better reflect the Violence Against Women Act’sprovisions. These provisions provide stronger protections and safety for vulnerable populations and expand the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement and justice systems to address domestic violence in tribal communities.  The BIA is also implementing training for direct service law enforcement program staff in the areas of law enforcement, social services, victim services, and courts, as well as making it available to tribes operating these programs via self-determination contracts and self-governance compacts.

Tribal Nation-Building

The FY 2017 budget request supports tribal nation-building and self-determination providing funding increases for contract support costs and investing in data for tribal governments and federal agencies to guide future funding.

The request continues the Administration’s commitment to fully fund contract support costs with an increase of $1 million above the FY 2016 enacted level to fully address requirements for 2017.  The budget also includes a legislative proposal to fully fund BIA and Indian Health Service contract support costs as mandatory funding, beginning in 2018.

The FY 2017 budget request includes an increase of $12 million for work with tribal governments and the U.S. Bureau the Census to address federal data quality and availability issues.  The request recognizes the long-standing concerns of tribal governments to improve access to and quality of federal data and information about Indian Country to inform their decision-making and the delivery of services to tribal communities.

In addition, the request proposes an increase of $4 million to continue development of, an information portal where tribes can find and access hundreds of federal programs and services available to them.  The funding also supports regional and local assistance to tribes to access services and information.

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