Senator Udall Highlights Importance of Government-to-Government Relationships with Tribes

Feb 18, 2020Congressional Legislation, News, Tribal Sovereignty

Earlier this month, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Vice-Chairman Tom Udall (D-N.M.) addressed the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) about his work to advance legislative priorities for Indian Country, particularly in ensuring budgetary certainty for essential Tribal programs, supporting Native cultures and protecting cultural resources, revitalizing and strengthening Native languages, and empowering Tribes to ensure public safety. During the event, he also received a Special Recognition Award for significant lifetime achievement on behalf of Indian Country.

“In any legislation or work with Tribes I undertake, I’m guided by three core principles: respecting Tribal sovereignty, promoting Tribal self-determination, and ensuring meaningful government-to-government consultation takes place,” Senator Udall said of his work.

He also discussed the seriousness of upholding federal trust and responsibility toward Indian Country, as shutdowns, the effects of budget sequestration, and continuing resolutions take a toll on Native communities. To ensure financial security for Tribal Programs, Senator Udall has introduced legislation to move important programs to an advance appropriations cycle, ensuring that Tribal communities are not left without vital resources due to federal budget uncertainties.

Udall also highlighted his efforts to preserve Native cultures and languages, raising the signing into law of his December 2019 bill to reauthorize the Esther Martinez Native Languages Programs.

The program “helps keep Native languages alive by providing Native communities with flexible resources to develop language tools or start immersion schools,” he said. “Maintaining the vitality of Native languages is paramount.”

Finally, Udall discussed the importance of public safety in Tribal communities, addressing the importance of providing Tribes with the resources and tools they need to protect themselves.

This is particularly important “if we hope to tackle the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis head-on and close the jurisdictional loopholes in the Violence Against Women Act,” he said.

The full text of Udall’s remarks as prepared for delivery are available by clicking here.

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