Republican-National-Committee

Republicans Ratify Positive American Indian Platform

WASHINGTON – The leadership of the Republican National Committee (RNC) has ratified a platform on American Indian policy as part of the Republican National Convention, currently taking place in Tampa, Florida.

The GOP’s Native-focused platform, strong on Indian self-determination, tribal sovereignty, and federal-tribal consultation, is titled, “Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians.”

“Based on both treaty and other law, the federal government has a unique government-to-government relationship with and trust responsibility for Indian Tribal Governments and American Indians and Alaska Natives,” the platform says in part. “These obligations have not been sufficiently honored. The social and economic problems that plague Indian country have grown worse over the last several decades; we must reverse that trend. Ineffective federal programs deprive American Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.”

The platform hails the ability of tribal governments, honors Indian military service, and says that Indian culture and languages are “national treasures.”

“We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians…” the platform says in its concluding paragraph.

Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the RNC, said the overall GOP platform was developed via “an open-door policy” with “input from over 30,000 people.” She said that Mitt Romney’s campaign provided suggestions as part of the process.

“We had good language in 2008, but I do think this is the strongest statement yet,” said John Tahsuda, a tribal lobbyist with Navigators Global, who is advising the Romney-Ryan campaign on Indian issues, as he did for the McCain-Palin camp in 2008.

“I was heartened by an early draft I saw that was spot-on congruent with the best of federal Indian law,” added Philip Baker-Shenk, a partner with the Holland & Knight law firm, who focuses on Indian and tribal issues.

The full RNC 2012 Native-focused platform is below:

Honoring Our Relationship with American Indians

Based on both treaty and other law, the federal government has a unique government-to-government relationship with and trust responsibility for Indian Tribal Governments and American Indians and Alaska Natives. These obligations have not been sufficiently honored. The social and economic problems that plague Indian country have grown worse over the last several decades; we must reverse that trend. Ineffective federal programs deprive American Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.

American Indians have established elected tribal governments to carry out the public policies of the tribe, administer services to its tribal member constituents, and manage relations with federal, State, and local governments. We respect the tribal governments as the voice of their communities and encourage federal, State, and local governments to heed those voices in developing programs and partnerships to improve the quality of life for American Indians and their neighbors in their communities.

Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges confronting Indian country. We believe that tribal governments and their communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are best situated to craft solutions that will end systemic problems that create poverty and disenfranchisement. Just as the federal government should not burden States with regulations, it should not stifle the development of resources within the reservations, which need federal assistance to advance their commerce nationally through roads and technology. Federal and State regulations that thwart job creation must be withdrawn or redrawn so that tribal governments acting on behalf of American Indians are not disadvantaged. It is especially egregious that the Democratic Party has persistently undermined tribal sovereignty in order to provide advantage to union bosses in the tribal workplace.

Republicans recognize that each tribe has the right of consultation before any new regulatory policy is implemented on tribal land. To the extent possible, such consultation should take place in Indian country with the tribal government and its members. Before promulgating and imposing any new laws or regulations affecting trust land or members, the federal government should encourage Indian tribes to develop their own policies to achieve program objectives, and should defer to tribes to develop their own standards, or standards in conjunction with State governments.

Republicans reject a one-size-fits-all approach to federal-tribal-State partnerships and will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. Better partnerships will help us to expand economic opportunity, deliver top-flight education to future generations, modernize and improve the Indian Health Service to make it more responsive to local needs, and build essential infrastructure in Indian country in cooperation with tribal neighbors. Our approach is to empower American Indians, through tribal self-determination and self-governance policies, to develop their greatest assets, human resources and the rich natural resources on their lands, without undue federal interference.

Like all Americans, American Indians want safe communities for their families; but inadequate resources and neglect have, over time, allowed criminal activities to plague Indian country. To protect everyone – and especially the most vulnerable: children, women, and elders – the legal system in tribal communities must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone’s due process and civil rights must be safeguarded.

We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by American Indians, including Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians and to preserve their culture and languages that we consider to be national treasures. Lastly, we recognize that American Indians have responded to the call for military service in percentage numbers far greater than have other groups of Americans. We honor that commitment, loyalty, and sacrifice of all American Indians serving in the military today and in years past and will ensure that all veterans and their families receive the care and respect they have earned through their loyal service to America.

The full RNC 2008 Native-focused platform is below:

Supporting Native American Communities

The federal government has a special responsibility to the people in Indian country and a unique trust relationship with them, which has been insufficiently honored. The social and economic problems that plague Indian country have grown worse over the last several decades, and we must reverse that trend. Ineffective government programs deprive Indians of the services they need, and long-term failures threaten to undermine tribal sovereignty itself.

Republicans believe that economic self-sufficiency is the ultimate answer to the challenges in Indian country and that tribal communities, not Washington bureaucracies, are better situated to craft local solutions. Federal — and state — regulations that thwart job creation must be reconsidered so that tribal governments acting on Native Americans’ behalf are not disadvantaged. The Democratic Party’s repeated undermining of tribal sovereignty to advantage union bosses is especially egregious.

Republicans reject a one-size-fits-all approach to federal-state-tribal partnerships and will work to expand local autonomy where tribal governments seek it. Better partnerships will help us to expand opportunity, deliver top-flight education to future generations, modernize and improve the Indian Health Service to make it more responsive to local needs, and build essential infrastructure. Native Americans must be empowered to develop the rich natural resources on their lands without undue federal interference.

Crime in Indian country, especially against women, is a special problem demanding immediate attention. Inadequate resources and neglect have made Native Americans less safe and allowed safe havens to develop in Indian country for criminal narcotics enterprises. The government must increase funding for tribal officers and investigators, FBI agents, prosecutors, and tribal jails. The legal system must provide stability and protect property rights. Everyone’s civil rights must be safeguarded, including the right to due process and freedom of the press, with accountability for all government officials.

We support efforts to ensure equitable participation in federal programs by Native Americans, including Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, and to preserve their culture and languages. We honor the sacrifices of all Native Americans serving in the military today and in years past and will ensure that all veterans receive the care and respect they have earned through their service to America.

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Republicans Ratify Positive American Indian Platform

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