Statement by Gary Niles Kimble
Commissioner Administration for Native Americans
Administration for Children and Families
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Committee on Indian Affairs
United States Senate
April 22, 1997
Chairman Campbell, Vice Chairman Inouye and members of the Committee, it is my pleasure to come before you today in support of the reauthorization of the Native American Programs Act, administered by the Administration for Native Americans. There is a strong Administration commitment to address the critical issues that confront Tribes and Native American communities, as well as to help them achieve their social, economic and govern- ance objectives through ANA financial assistance. I look forward to reporting grantee progress to this Committee so we can continue this important work.
The Administration for Native Americans is a small agency with a big mission, which we take very seriously. The impact of our philosophy and policies is visible and viable in Native American communities across the country and the Pacific Islands. ANA serves over 550 federally-recognized Tribes (including over 220 Alaska Native tribal governments), about 60 Tribes that are State-recognized or seeking Federal recognition, Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian communities, and Native populations in Guam, American Samoa, Palau, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
We strongly support the reauthorization of the Native American Programs Act (the Act) which is before this Committee for consideration.
The Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), Environmental Quality, and Native Languages Preservation programs under the Native American Programs Act play a vital role in supporting Indian and Native American self-determination and the development of economic, social and governance capacities of Native American communities. Reauthorization of these programs will promote projects covering a wide range of interrelated social and economic development efforts, such as the expansion and creation of businesses and jobs, youth leadership, cultural preservation, energy and natural resource management, fish and wildlife preservation, and the development of new Tribal constitutions and by-laws.
However, we are very concerned that S. 459, a bill before the Committee to reauthorize the Act, does not include the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF). The NHRLF has been very successful in promoting economic development activities for Native Hawaiians. Among the Administration for Native Americans grantees, the NHRLF is considered to be an outstanding success, establishing or expanding Native Hawaiian owned businesses and creating full-time jobs.
In order to provide the context for considering the reauthorization, I would like to present our philosophy for working with Native American communities as well as a description of the progress they have recently made.
Philosophy and Policy
Our philosophy is to support the policies and implementation of self-determination and self-governance of all Tribes and Native American communities and organizations. Within this context, ANA assistance allows them to develop their own strategies so Native American communities can move their citizens towards self-sufficiency. We define a Native American community as self-sufficient when it can generate and control the resources necessary to meet its social and economic goals, and the needs of its members.
This approach, which is embodied in the SEDS grant program, has moved many Tribal and Native programs from having Federal staff provide services to them, or operating federally-mandated programs, to developing and implementing their own discrete proj- ects. Our policy recognizes the right of each individual Tribe and Native American group to move forward on its own terms, and to develop and achieve its own community infrastructure goals. SEDS was developed with formal Tribal and Native American leadership consultation. This is one example of how the government-to-government relationship is carried out in ANA. Our policy is based on two fundamental principles:
1) The local community and its leadership are responsible for determining its goals, setting priorities, and planning and implementing programs aimed at achieving those goals. Further, the local community is in the best position to apply its own cultural, political, and socio-economic values to its long-term strategies and programs.
2) Economic and social development and governance are interrelated. In order to move toward self-sufficiency, development in one area should be balanced with development in the others. Consequently, comprehensive development strategies should address all aspects of the governmental, economic, and social infrastructures needed to promote self- sufficient communities.
Governance and Social and Economic Development In FY 1996, ANA awarded 223 grants for governance, social and economic development projects. These grants include the expansion and creation of businesses and jobs; youth leadership and entrepreneurship projects; tourism enterprises; diversified agricultural projects; cultural centers; fisheries; energy and natural resource management; and fish and wildlife preservation-- a vital necessity to support the traditional lifestyle and economies of the Tribes.
I would like to describe some of the accomplishments of the Tribes and Native American communities using these SEDS grants. Examples of innovative business enterprises developed through these grants include the Wai'anae Coast Community Alternative Development Corporation grant in Hawaii, facilitating a collaborative effort between the corporate board and 28 families to develop their community based economic strategy. It is a "Backyard Aquaculture Project" which combines Hawaiian family values with traditional growing principles. The board reinforces community management skills with community aquaculture operations, enabling the families to manage and operate the project independently.
ANA's attention to the environment and community involvement is illustrated by our grants with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society. The project involves eight Alaskan villages bordering the Copper River, a rich salmon fishery. A management plan for the villages' unique salmon fish wheels is being developed, leading to the first tribal administered fishery in Alaska. Another example, the Inter-Tribal Bison Cooperative, involves 40 Tribes in 16 States (Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) in a project committed to re-establishing buffalo herds on Indian lands in a manner that promotes community development, cultural and social enhancement, ecological restoration and spiritual revitalization. The Cooperative received a grant to develop cultural education programs, an Internet WEB page, and culturally relevant national standards for the buffalo industry. Recently, this grantee was chosen as the winner of Renew America's Seventh Annual Award for Environmental Sustainability in the Redefining Progress category and honored with 23 other winners at an AT&T event in Washington, D.C.
ANA also assists Tribes with Federal recognition and status clarification. In FY 1996 and to-date in FY 1997, we have provided grants to 35 Tribes to conduct status clarification projects to re-establish their trust relationship with the United States.
For example, in Nevada, the Walker River Paiute's grant provides assistance to establish a two-person taxation department within the Tribal government. This allows the Tribe to implement the Possessory Interest Tax Ordinance, the Sales and Use Tax, and the Cigarette and Tobacco Tax Ordinance. As a result, the Tribe has improved its governmental structure and self-determination capabilities while benefitting from diversified revenues. Besides paying for the tax department's operating costs, the new revenue defrays the cost of providing essential services to Tribal members.
Other ANA Funding Initiatives
In addition, ANA funds projects in other competitive areas that address critical needs at the Tribal and village level. Native Languages Preservation and Enhancement Native languages are one of the crucial cultural resources by which tribal peoples identify themselves. Preserving language and culture reduces alienation often experienced by youth, reducing the levels of substance abuse, violence and other self- destructive behavior. It also is significant to note that Tribes who observe traditional ways have much lower rates of alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse. Since many Native languages are in danger of being lost completely as dwindling groups of elders are the only speakers, ANA is funding Native Languages at a higher level in FY 1997 ($2 million). This higher level of funding augments the 13 projects started in FY 1996 for the survival and continuing vitality of Native American languages. Projects include research on current Native language use; development of specialized curricula; Native language training programs; language immersion camps for youth; and master (elder)/apprentice programs; transcribing or recording on audio and video tapes; oral narratives that will be used to develop or revise dictionaries and curricula; and incorporating a Tribe's language into Tribal Head Start and child care programs.
Environmental Regulatory Enhancement
Tribes and Alaska village governments are operating 23 environmental regulatory enhancement projects that build professional staff capacity to monitor and enforce Tribal environmental programs; develop Tribal environmental statutes and establish community environmental quality standards; and conduct the research needed to identify sources of pollution and determine the impact on existing environmental quality. The projects also help Tribes and village governments to meet Federal environmental requirements.
Mitigating Environmental Impact of DoD Activities on Indian Lands In FY 1996, 12 grants were approved for the mitigation of damage to Indian lands due to Department of Defense (DoD) activities. Briefly, the projects address mitigating the damage to treaty-protected spawning habitats, damage caused to Tribal range and forest lands, adverse effects to sacred sites and religious ceremonies, suspected leakage of underground storage tanks, and unexploded ordnance on Indian reservation lands that has resulted in damage to rangelands, wildlife habitats, and stock water wells. These grants were funded by a transfer of funds from the DoD to ANA.
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Information Dissemination and Strategy Support Program Under the recently enacted welfare reform law federally recognized Tribes, the Metlakatla Indian Community and the 12 Alaska Native regional non-profit corporations become eligible to operate their own Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In FY 1997, we initiated the Information Dissemination and Strategy Development program, a new grant subset within the SEDS program, to assist Tribal and community leaders in their TANF participation decisionmaking. Through these SEDS grants, ANA grantees will disseminate information and develop options to share among potential Tribal TANF applicants. Providing these Tribes and organizations with the information necessary for them to make an informed decision about their options under the new welfare reform law supports the ANA philosophy of local self- determination.
The Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund
The Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund (NHRLF) promotes economic development by providing loans to Native Hawaiians not available from other sources on reasonable terms and conditions. The program encourages Native Hawaiian business development and, ultimately, seeks to increase self-sufficiency for the Native Hawaiian community. Through FY 1996, ANA has provided over $7.9 million for the operation of the fund, while the loan administrator has furnished over $3.9 million in matching funds, including all administrative costs. More work is needed to help Hawaiian-owned businesses become viable, self-sustaining and a more significant part of the total State economic system. Therefore, we request the Committee permanently authorize this valuable program.
I hope I have conveyed to you the vital role that ANA plays in implementing a "living" model of the government-to-government relationship with the Tribes and Alaska villages. I look forward to working with this Committee to build upon ANA's support of Native American self-governance and economic development. I would be happy to answer any questions at this time.