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

Sustainable Stewardship of Trust Resources

The BIA Office of Trust Services (OTS) assists tribes in managing, protecting and developing their trust lands and natural resources, which total 56 million surface acres and 60 million acres of subsurface mineral estates.  OTS programs help tribal landowners steward these resources to protect their cultural, spiritual and traditional uses and enable tribal governments to manage their resources to generate revenue, create jobs, and protect the environment.

The FY 2017 budget request builds upon the BIA’s efforts to support tribal management of trust resources that support tribal cultures and communities’ economic stability.  The request includes an increase of $8.7 million for Trust Real Estate Services to expand the capacity to address the backlog of probate cases, as well as for land title and records processing, geospatial support needs, and database management.

The request also includes $2 million to promote subsistence cooperative management in Alaska, where Native communities are among the most under-resourced in the nation and whose cultures are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  The funding will promote tribal cooperative management of fish and wildlife, while improving access to subsistence resources on federal lands and waters.  The request also includes $2 million to promote fishery hatching, rearing, and stocking programs across the country.

Increasing Resilience of Natural Resources in Indian Country

Tribal lands, by their geography and location, are on the front lines of climate change and vulnerable to its effects.  From coast-to-coast, particularly in the West and Alaska, tribes continue to experience the damaging, sometimes devastating, impacts of climate change – long-term drought, intensifying wildland fires, changes to flora and fauna that are integral to their subsistence needs and cultures, coastal erosion, rising sea levels – on their environment and people, as well as to their treaty and trust lands and resources.

Tribal governments face immense challenges in planning for and responding to the far-reaching impacts that climate change is having or will have on their populations, infrastructure, economic development, food security, natural and cultural resources, and local cultures.

The FY 2017 budget request provides a $15.1 million increase over the 2016 enacted level across eight BIA trust natural resource programs to support tribal communities in sustainable resource management to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change.  Funds will provide support for tribes to:

  • Develop and access science, tools, training, and planning; and
  • Implement actions that build resilience into their resource management, infrastructure and community development activities.

It also will support Alaska Native villages in the Arctic and other critically vulnerable communities in evaluating options to improve the long-term resilience of their communities.

Indian Settlements

The President’s FY 2017 budget request for Indian water rights settlements continues this Administration’s strong commitment to resolving tribal water rights claims to ensure tribes have access to use and manage water to meet their domestic, economic, cultural and ecological needs.

The Indian Affairs’ budget request for Indian Land and Water Claim Settlements is $55.2 million, a $5.7 million increase over the 2016 enacted level.  In 2016, Indian Affairs will complete the Taos Pueblo Indian Water Rights Settlement Act, and in 2017, will complete the funding requirements for the BIA portion of the Aamodt Settlement, enacted as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

The request also includes $10 million to provide the Yurok Tribe in Northern California with funds to acquire lands as authorized by the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act.  This one-time funding satisfies the federal contribution for land acquisition efforts by the Yurok Tribe and its partners to conserve 47,097 acres of the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion to be managed as a salmon sanctuary and sustainable community forest.

Indian Affairs’ responsibility to the federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes is rooted in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution and subsequently defined in treaties, acts of Congress, executive orders and actions, federal court decisions, and federal policies and regulations.

The President’s FY 2017 budget request of $13.4 billion for the Department of the Interior reflects his commitment to meeting Federal trust responsibilities to Native Americans, conserving vital national landscapes across the nation, supporting the next century of our public lands, and responsible management of energy development on public lands and offshore areas.  The Department of the Interior’s Budget in Brief is available online at www.doi.gov/budget andwww.doi.gov/budget/2017/Hilites/toc.html.

The Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs supports the Secretary of the Interior in carrying out the Department’s responsibilities to the tribes through BIA and BIE programs and services.  The BIA’s mission includes developing and protecting Indian trust lands and natural and energy resources; supporting social welfare, public safety and justice in tribal communities; and promoting tribal self-determination and self-governance.  For more information, visit www.indianaffairs.gov. The BIE implements federal Indian education programs and funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools (of which two-thirds are tribally operated) located on 64 reservations in 23 states and peripheral dormitories serving over 40,000 students. BIE also operates two post-secondary schools, and administers grants for 28 tribally controlled colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges, and provides higher education scholarships to Native youth.  For more information, visit www.bie.edu.

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