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BARACK OBAMA'S PRINCIPLES FOR STRONGER TRIBAL COMMUNITIES

"Perhaps more than anyone else, the Native American community faces huge challenges that have been ignored by Washington for too long. It is time to empower Native Americans in the development of the national policy agenda."

--Barack Obama

"We've got to make sure we are not just having a BIA that is dealing with the various Native American tribes; we've got to have the President of the United States meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect."

--Barack Obama, Elko, NV, January 18, 2008

At a Glance


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The Problem

The hundreds of Indian tribes in America face a unique set of challenges. Issues like sovereignty, health care, and education--issues that are central to tribes' future prosperity and embedded in the federal government's responsibility--are often neglected. Barack Obama is committed to tribal nation building and enforcing the federal government's obligations to Indian people.

Barack Obama's Plan

Sovereignty, Tribal-Federal Relations and the Trust Responsibility

NativeAmerican tribal nations are sovereign, self-governing political entities and enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States federal government that is recognized expressly in treaties with the United States.

Health Care

The Indian Health Service estimates that it receives only 55 percent of the federal funding it requires. Federal per-capita funding for Indian health care amounts to about half of the federal per capita health funding for federal prisoners. Indians are the most at-risk minority group for health problems like diabetes, which they suffer from at a rate 249 percent higher than the national average. Moreover, Indians have the nation's highest death rates for tuberculosis and suicide. After Haiti, men on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere.

Education

Education is the key to improving the lives of Native Americans and empowering tribal nations to build a better future. Educational policies in the 1970s attempted to reverse past federal policies aimed at eradicating Native American languages and cultures, but Native Americans still suffer from some of the lowest high school graduation and college matriculation rates in the nation. We must continue to honor our obligations to Native Americans by providing tribes with the educational resources promised by treaty and federal law.

Religious Freedom and Cultural Protection

Economic & Infrastructure Protection

Native Americans experience some of the most severe socioeconomic conditions in the United States. Poverty and its effects are pervasive, with more than quarter of all Native Americans living in poverty and unemployment rates reaching 80 percent on some reservations. Obama's experience as a community organizer working in poor neighborhoods plagued by high unemployment has taught him that there is no single solution to community poverty. Therefore, he supports using a comprehensive approach that includes investment in physical, human and institutional infrastructure, increased access to capital, the removal of barriers to development, and above all, authentic government-togovernment relationships between the federal government and tribes.

Women's Health

Indians are often subject to unusually harsh conditions when it comes to women's health. A recent study by Amnesty International details the alarming rates at which Native women are subject to violence. The report states that one in three American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime, and they are more than three times as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in America.

Methamphetamines

In a 2006 survey, 74 percent of tribal law enforcement officials reported methamphetamines to be the leading threat to their tribes' livelihood. The same survey reported dramatic increases in cases of domestic violence, child neglect, sex crimes, and weapons charges.

Veterans' Affairs

Native Americans serve in the armed forces at a higher rate than any other group in America. Native Americans have served in every war, and their special place in American military history is widely recognized. The first woman to die in combat in the Iraq war was a young Native American woman. World War II's Codetalkers are the most celebrated examples of how Indians have been critical to the success of American efforts overseas. As a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, Obama supports several Veteran measures, including the sheltering and rehabilitation of homeless veterans, securing veterans' benefits, and easing service members' transition back into society.

Hunting and Fishing

Hunting and fishing are important to many tribes' diet, culture, and spirituality. Protecting hunting and fishing rights ensures that tribes are able to carry on those aspects of their traditional way of life.

Barack Obama | Barack on the Issues
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