Fy 2014 bia eastern region budget testimony march 2012
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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

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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

  • the 125% poverty rate in comparison to 16.7% of

  • the white race

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.

  • Reported median income for American Indians and Alaska Natives was $35,062, 33.7% less than the white race median income of $52,840.

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:

Eastern Region

Tribal Program Priorities


  • Tribal Court

  • Law Enforcement

  • Scholarships

  • Economic Development


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

Country include:

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

business partners.

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

required insurances.

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

business development.


Loan Guarantee:

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.

  • In a 2011 GAO Report entitled “Indian Criminal Country Criminal Justice” it was substantiated that of the 12 tribes visited 11 of tribes’ Tribal Court Budgets were totally inadequate to carry out Tribal Court operations. Key personnel such as public defenders, prosecutors, and probation officers were often non-existent due to funding limitations.

  • The need for additional Tribal Court funding is further magnified with the passage of the Tribal Law Order Act which increases tribes sentencing authority and other jurisdictional rights. Many tribes will not be able to implement the provisions of this Act without being provided adequate resources.

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


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