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Republicans Ratify Positive American Indian Platform

Rob Capriccioso
8/29/12

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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bintdeeb's picture
bintdeeb
Submitted by bintdeeb on
Wonderful! As proof of the Republicans' new found intention to "sufficiently" honor the treaties, I suggest that Mitt Romney immediately take out $6-$10 million of the gazillions of dollars he's spending on his presidential campaign, buy Pe'Sla and give it back to the Lakota, who actually already own it.

notnek's picture
notnek
Submitted by notnek on
Sounds really good! History says different, we have had the Trojan Horse before. The question is, how can we ever believe anything they say??? I am not trying to just bash the Republicans I am bashing politicians when we have little or no political clout. The next question is, is this just a ploy to get Indians to vote for Kristi Moen in South Dakota??? It all sounds to good to be true. Color me a skeptic.

arw00's picture
arw00
Submitted by arw00 on
as far as I see it, there just blowin smoke. once elected, its business as usual

greenriverkate's picture
greenriverkate
Submitted by greenriverkate on
I read the first few paragraphs and stopped. This party tried to do away with reservations (for minerals), tried to force people off the reservations, cut medical to Natives, cut ALL help for those natives off the reservation (health, eye, dental). My own daughter was told to take her baby to indian health 700 miles from her house!!!! The list goes on and on and on. I judge by action, not empty lies. This party wants Indians to make it by taking the reservation and all government help away from them! I have had no use for them since they were on the Indian commission committee and started cutting. John McCain takes all he can from the Navajo and Hopi's at whim for big business. He has polluted their very air, land and water. Please, don't believe a damn word, check the history of this party all the way back to the early 80's. Have to admit, didn't see much help for natives all the way back to the 60's but total dissimination started in the 80 heart and soul.

greenriverkate's picture
greenriverkate
Submitted by greenriverkate on
bintdeeb,I second that motion!!!

ribluebird's picture
ribluebird
Submitted by ribluebird on
Just remember the Koch brothers are spending BIG BUCKs to get them in. Here come the Keystone pipe line out of Cananda. You might say they have fork tongue.They really scare me.

mukoonz's picture
mukoonz
Submitted by mukoonz on
More empty talk, meaningless hot air, mere rhetoric, empty words, hokum, speaking with forked tongue, blah blah blah. Nothing new here folks, move along...move along....

tmsyr11's picture
tmsyr11
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
All the MORE reason for Tribal members to participate in Representative Indian Tribal Governments. The problem isn’t the “bad Republicans” but what has is YOUR Tribal Government (electable by YOU) doing for YOU? The “whiteman” can’t afford to GIVE money as Uncle ‘Sugar’ is writing Govt. checks (running a deficit). How are federal resources being used on illegals & their children instead of being used on legitimate Indian beneficiaries? Barack Obama singularly decides in going to WAR and spend millions of US dollars than getting Congress approval. What do Tribal Govts do with federal or State or Private funding? Why are Tribal Social Services, health services being shut down for supposed ‘lack’ of federal grants/funding? I tire of reading Tribal offices are irresponsible for programs as HeadStart, WIC, Elderly Services, Public Safety, etc. by missing grant deadlines. How are Tribal Offices planning/monitoring/improving meeting Federal or State deadlines? Why are Tribal Govts moving funds around, for example ‘stealing’ from social services to allocating to general tribal funds (with excuse of putting money back when tribes get paid). Who is getting paid from Tribal Gaming proceeds and what is returned back to Indian people? Are hired Tribal white Democratic consultants working covertly with private industry/State/federal officials? Have elected Tribal Govts properly COMMUNICATED to Dems/Repubs tribal needs and tribal requests THAN just going to the NEWSPAPERS? Do Tribal Govts even know how to ask? These are questions of YOUR Tribal Govt than to stand in line and WAIT for a handout from Barack Obama. There is a federal process established specifically for indian tribes much along SIMILAR lines for how the Federal Govt IS SUPPOSED TO relate with 50 States. If not for bi-partisan support in 1970s for Indian Self-Determination and support for Indian Gaming Act in 1988, various State Compact agreements, Indian tribes would be dead weight for federal and state affairs. Unfortunately rather than SUPPORT State Affairs, the current White House Administration is infringing on Self-Determination versus where the States and some Indian Tribes want to go. We don’t need more federal intervention particularly when this White House spends other people’s earnings for White House pet projects that don’t have anything to do with legitimate domestic Indian affairs.

forbiss's picture
forbiss
Submitted by forbiss on
Your suggestion is good. But first, ask Pres Obama to give back the $1.5 million taken from Indian donors for the privilege of sitting down to sup with him at fundraisers. He actually took it. How inconsiderate of him, really, no sarcasm meant with that statement--stuff that makes one's mind boggle. Then consider recent news that Pres. Obama is America's first billion-dollar campaign candidate. To portray Republicans as the sole source of Indians' plethora of slights & plight or to single out Mitt Romney is to ignore 75% of NDNs financial problem.

ginwolf's picture
ginwolf
Submitted by ginwolf on
The first thing that came to my mind when I read the Repulican platform on Native American People was, what do Native American's have that the Republicans whan to get their hands on. You all are way ahead of me. You seem to see right through them. Tmsyr 11 who's paying you off ? You lie like a Republican.

katedoyle-henderson's picture
katedoyle-henderson
Submitted by katedoyle-henderson on
Color me skeptic...isn't it the Republican party who wants the pipelines and drilling rights on lands considered sacred? While we are talking about safeguarding civil rights, due process and government accountability could we revisit the return of sacred places to Native Americans? While the RNC is ready to honor the sacrifices of all Native Americans having served in the military, could we revisit history revisions in school text books to accurately reflect the holocaust that occurred so that we could all live in the land of the free and the home of the brave? I want to believe that someone in our government has honor, integrity, and the balls to finally speak the truth. Would we be reading this platform if it were not an election year? The big question, is it better to go with the devil you know or the devil you don't know?

denverlowcap's picture
denverlowcap
Submitted by denverlowcap on
all i really see here is an attempt to limit the fed's responsibility (fiscal) and put a nice face on an economic policy meant to deregulate Nation relations, open up reservation communities to corporate money and power and stuff the capitalistic system down the Native throat. blah.
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