FY 2014 BIA EASTERN REGION BUDGET TESTIMONY MARCH, 2012. SOCIO-ECONOMIC CONDITIONS. Socio-economic measures show that American Indian and Alaskan Natives continue to significantly trail the general U.S. population . 35.7% of Indians and Alaska Natives are living below
FY 2014 BIA EASTERN REGIONBUDGET TESTIMONYMARCH, 2012
Socio-economic measures show that American Indian
and Alaskan Natives continue to significantly trail the
general U.S. population
poverty rate of American
The unemployment rate was 47%higher for Native
Americans and Alaskan Natives than whites –
at 17.9% and 9.5% respectively.
In keeping with the:
Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Mission to:
“Enhance the quality of life, to promote economic opportunity, and to carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of American Indians, Indian tribes, and Alaska Natives” and
Bureau of Indian Education’s Mission to:
“Provide quality education opportunities from early childhood through life in Indian Country”
The Eastern Region tribes have prioritized the following programs:
Tribal Program Priorities
The Eastern Region tribes have identified
Economic Development as a key component to
achieving self-sufficiency and improving tribal
socioeconomic conditions. With the staggering
unemployment rates experienced throughout
Indian Country it is essential that tribes develop
economic enterprises and job opportunities
within their homelands. It has been recognized in
numerous reports that several of the critical
challenges to economic development within Indian
Legal and Administrative Barriers: Investors
and businesses often require assurances to
federal or state courts for dispute resolution before
business with a tribe or tribal business. Often such
assurances require a limited waiver of tribal
sovereignty. Further the lack of commercial code,
zoning regulations, and tax policies presents
barriers that can deter potential investors and
Lack of Investment Capital: Lack of capital,
either in the form of debt or equity financing,
Makes it difficult to start new businesses or to
expand existing ones.
Focus on short-term rather than long-term
results: Stakeholders, tribal members, & tribal
leaders are often pressured into steering business
development in directions that are inconsistent
with the long-term planning perspective and
investment strategies required to make a venture
Lack of Bonding: With the unique status
of American Indian’s land holding and
assets it is often difficult for tribal businesses
to attain the necessary bonding and other
To overcome these challenges it is paramount that
funding for Economic Development be increased.
The FY 2013 President’s budget request for
Economic Development includes only $2.4 million
which is slightly more than the FY 2012 enacted
level, but as illustrated in the following chart is
approximately 52% less than the FY 2008 level.
It is essential that tribes have the financial resources to
assist them with developing long-term economic
development plans & strategies and to conduct
business feasibility studies that are essential to
The lack of investment capital is a major barrier to economic development within Indian Country. Often, the BIA Loan Guarantee is the only financing resource available to tribes.
The FY 2013 budget proposes a reduction of $2.1 million for the Loan Guarantee Program until the program undergoes an independent evaluation. Considering the devastating socioeconomic conditions of our tribal people we cannot afford to wait until the federal government completes yet another evaluation. Throughout the last several years, funding for the Loan Guarantee Program is diminishing, as noted in the following table:
Loan Guarantee Program be restored to at least the
FY 2011enacted level of $8.2.
If the Administration does indeed go ahead with its
plans for an independent evaluation we would request
that the evaluation also entail a study on overcoming
the tribes’ inability to access surety bonding and
insurance requirements necessary for business
Further, we request that appropriate resources be
Included in future budget requests that address the
bonding and insurance barriers.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs’ FY 2012 enacted
budget includes only $23.4 million to operate
approximately 185 BIA funded Tribal Courts and
Courts of Federal Regulations, averaging
$126,486 per Court.
Even though the FY 2013 budget proposes a slight
funding increase of $1.2 million, it still is
significantly below the amount needed to provide
for the much needed judicial systems in Indian
As illustrated below, significant funding gains werebeing made from FY 2008 untilFY 2011, unfortunately in FY 2012 a budget decline was experienced, resulting in less funding for the direct operations of Tribal Courts.
Further, as previously mentioned one of the
challenges to economic development in
Indian Country is that outside business
investors and partners are often reluctant to
invest in Indian Country since tribes do not
have the judicial systems necessary to
resolve any contract disputes and other business
Additional funding for Tribal Courts will
assist tribes in overcoming this challenge and be
a step closer to developing strong tribal
A college education is a significant factor in the
socioeconomic advancement of American Indian
communities, particularly in relation to
opportunities for jobs and increased earnings.
An individual with a bachelor’s degree or greater
has the capacity to earn at least four times the
annual income of a high school dropout and more
than twice the annual income of high school
As illustrated in the following table, the earnings of
American Indians, age 25 and older; lag
considerably behind the U.S. population average
at all educational categories.
The FY 2013 President’s Budget proposes
scholarship funding at a level of $29.9 million with
an average award of $2,700 for 8,957 students, in
relation to FY 2010 enacted funding level this is a
funding decrease of approximately $4.7 million and
decreases the number of American Indian and Alaska
Native students receiving BIA scholarship by 4%.
Access by American Indians to quality
higher education is one step to moving this
segment of American society from the
lowest levels of poverty to the realization of
We request the Scholarship funding remain
a priority and the funding level be restored to
at least the FY 2010 funding level of $34.6
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has reported
from the latest available data that crime rates
experienced by American Indians nationwide are
two and half times higher than those experienced
by the general population in the United States.
In a study conducted by BIA in 2006 it was found
that in accordance with Department of Justice
research, there are 1.3 officers per 1000 residents
in Indian Country opposed to the national average
of 2.6 officers per 1,000 in non-Indian jurisdictions.
Tribes recognize that some progress has
been achieved over the last several years
but to fulfill one of the President’s and Tribal
Leaders’ top priorities “protecting Indian
communities” much work is still required.
Drug traffickers and illegal immigrants continue to
target tribal lands due to the known gaps in law
enforcement coverage in those areas.
For tribes to continue their quest for safer
communities and continue combating the “war
against drugs” - more law enforcement personnel
Is needed. Additional funding must be made
available for the hiring, retention, and training of
patrolman, investigators, drug enforcement
officers, and school resource officers.
Specific to the Eastern Region, many of our tribes
have expressed the following concerns:
Staffing/Population Ratio: Particularly, they are
concerned that this ratio is or will be used as a
factor in determining funding levels for tribes.
Tribes with small populations could not possibly
provide 24 hour day coverage. Furthermore, the
ratio does not give any consideration for the
required supportive staff, such as dispatchers
which are a vital component to law enforcement
The Eastern Region Tribes request that
consideration be given to smaller tribes and
minimal staffing needs for 24 hour a day
operations be considered.
Facilities: Eastern Region tribes have expressed
concerns regarding the lack of facility funding.
Many of our tribes operate out of dilapidated law
enforcement buildings and lack appropriate
security which not only endangers the officers and
civilians lives, but also is a prohibiting factor
in tribes operating state/federal law enforcement
databases, such as NCIC.
The Eastern tribes request additional funding to
bring tribal law enforcement facilities up to
standard conditions and, as contracting and
compacting tribes, should not be excluded from
any assessments or funding streamsthat are
available to federally owned or managed