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Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

A dialog from the Taino-L list, 30 October 2000

[Publisher's note: Gore's response to the question was not provided by the Bush supporter, despite his statement to the contrary.]


Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 09:44:54 -0500
From: Director of Public Relations <public-relations@TAINO-TRIBE.ORG>
Subject: Fw: Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

----- Original Message -----
From: "JimBattin.com" <jim@jimbattin.com>
To: "The Taino Tribal Government " <Tribal-Affairs@Taino-Tribe.Org >
Sent: Monday, October 30, 2000 3:28 AM
Subject: Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

IMDiversity.com - Diversity Job Bank - Where Careers, Opportunities and Diversity ConnectDear Tribal Leaders,

A lot has been said about where Governor George Bush and Vice President Al Gore stand on tribal sovereignty and overall on important Indian issues.

This article is the first time I have seen where both candidates have responded to the same question. Please take a moment to read each response. Decide for yourself who has given tribal issues the most thought - and has a positive plan for Indian communities throughout the nation.

I am confident you will conclude, as I have, Governor Bush has a more thoughtful vision, a more positive approach and a clear plan for improving life in Indian country.

His commitment to tribal sovereignty is also very clear in his answer. [...]

I welcome your comments.

JIM BATTIN
California State Assemblyman,
80th District

IMDiversity Native American Village


What are your planned policies for protecting and ensuring the sovereignty rights of America's many Indian Nations?

Governor Bush Responds
Vice President Gore Responds

The federal government and tribal governments must work together, government to government, to ensure that the American dream is accessible to Native Americans. That dream begins with a quality education.

Tragically, schools on tribal lands are often in poor physical condition and lack basic resources. The federal government has a frontline responsibility to fix these schools and provide an environment in which children can learn.

Enrollment in BIA schools is growing and has increased by 25 percent since 1987. While more children are attending BIA schools, these children are doing so in physical environments that are among the worst in the nation. In fact, according to a December 1997 report by the Government Accounting Office (GAO), when compared to schools around the nation, BIA schools are:

a. Generally in poorer physical condition, with inadequate roofing, framing and floors, plumbing, heating and lighting;

b. Have more unsatisfactory environmental factors, such as indoor air quality, energy efficiency, ventilation and physical security;

c. More often lack critical capabilities, such as libraries, science labs, and support activities (day care, health care services, areas for counseling and testing) to meet requirements for education reform; and

d. Are less able to support computer and communications technology, lacking telephone lines, electric wiring and power. Indian schools also often fail to meet basic safety, fire and health codes, and typically do not provide access to individuals with disabilities. The GAO report also highlighted the fact that many of the BIA educational facilities are two or three times beyond the acceptable period for their use. One-fifth of the buildings are more than 50 years old, and half are more than 30 years old. Many of these facilities have been placed on the "Historic Register," thus complicating any attempt to modernize or improve these facilities. For example, 100-year-old pueblo-style buildings that are registered as historic sites can hamper the ability of school officials to install energy-efficient windows or make other changes that would alter the character of the buildings

Some schools are so poorly maintained that many students must now attend classes in mobile units. In North Dakota, for example, children of the Ojibwa Indian School on the Turtle Mountain Reservation have to attend classes in trailers because the main school building has been condemned.

In the Baca Consolidated Community School near the Navajo reservation in northwest New Mexico, 170 children attend classes in closet-sized structures and play on a concrete slab that serves as their gymnasium.

All told, BIA schools are in need of serious attention.

In July 2000 on the Senate Floor, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) stated, "the worst school facilities in the Nation are those on the Indian reservations."

The age and poor condition of the buildings, coupled with the consistent lack of funding, has led to a backlog of more than $802 million for renovations and repairs.

In addition, the BIA is still awaiting $126 million to replace six schools:

Tuba City Boarding School in Arizona; Zia Day School in New Mexico; Baca Consolidated Community School in New Mexico; Lummi Tribal School in Washington; and Wingate Elementary School in New Mexico.

Government-to-Government Relationship

Federal Indian policy, broadly expressed in terms of "trust relationships," "legal duties," and "moral obligations," revolves around the special relationship between the U.S. Government and individual Indian tribes. As such, much of our federal Indian policy has been developed in the context of treaties, the Constitution, statutes, and court decisions.

Currently, there are 556 federally recognized Tribes in the United States. According to the 1990 Census, there are approximately 2 million Native Americans living in the United States.

The federal government has a special responsibility, ethical and legal, to make the American dream accessible to Native Americans. Unfortunately, many of the resources that the United States holds in trust for them, financial and otherwise, have been misused and abused. While many tribes have become energetic participants in the mainstream of American life, the serious social ills afflicting some reservations have been worsened by decades of inattention and mismanagement from Washington.

I believe that these principles should guide Native American policy:

a. Tribal governments are best situated to gauge the needs of their communities and members.

b. The federal government has an affirmative obligation to meet its trust obligations, including education.

c. Political self-determination and economic self-sufficiency are twin pillars of an effective Indian policy.

d. High taxes and unreasonable regulations stifle new and expanded businesses and thwart the creation of job opportunities and prosperity. I will strengthen Native American self-determination by respecting tribal sovereignty, encouraging economic development on reservations and Indian lands, and working with Native Americans to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service to better serve their needs.

I will also uphold the unique government-to-government relationship between the tribes and the United States and honor our nation's trust obligations to them.

The Federal Government's Responsibility for Indian Schools

In treaties dating back to the 1800's and the legislation starting with the Synder Act of 1921, the Federal government has assumed a trust responsibility to provide an education to Indian children, including through the construction and maintenance of schools. These Bureau of Indian Affairs schools are the sole responsibility of the federal government, and as such the federal government has an obligation to maintain their structural soundness. Native American children deserve to have the basic structures, resources and tools to enable them to learn.

As recently as February 2000, the U.S. Department of the Interior stated in its budget report for fiscal year 2001:

[t]he 185 Indian schools managed by BIA compose one of only two school systems managed by the Federal government. Many of these school facilities have serious health and safety deficiencies that pose a real threat to student learning. Many schools have leaking roofs, peeling paint, overcrowded classrooms, and inadequate heating and cooling systems. At many schools, students attend class in aging portable classrooms. In addition, many Indian students lack access to computer and science labs, gyms, and other basic resources that are critical to ensuring the success of the younger generation.

Despite this recognition, the Administration has failed to provide sufficient funding to honor the federal responsibility to Indian schools and the children who attend them. There have been those in Congress who have advocated for the federal government to meet its responsibility to Indian schools. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) has stated, "the real problem here is that if we do not rebuild the Indian schools that are run by the Government and put them under some management and maintenance, nobody will.

They don't belong to anyone else. They are not being run by the State of Georgia, or the school board of Bernalillo County, Albuquerque... either we do it or the Indian young people go to school in buildings that are not fit for occupancy, much less for Indian education."

In order to renew our commitment to educating Indian children in safe and structurally sound schools and to fulfill the federal government's unique responsibility, as President, I will:

Establish the Tribal School Capital Improvement Fund: I will provide an immediate infusion of $928 million to eliminate the current backlog of needed repairs and maintenance, as well as to fulfill the promise to replace six schools. The Bureau of Indian Affairs will administer this fund.

Schools with the most urgent needs will be given priority in the funding requests.

Modernize Schools and Maintain Historic Character: In addition, I will work with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the NationalTrust for Historic Preservation, and tribal governments to make needed capital improvements while preserving the historic character of many of the Indian schools.

I've been traveling across this country, speaking about a lot about how we can strengthen our nation. For me, the tribes are part of that vision, because I believe our first peoples must never be a second priority. We have made great progress in the past seven years. More Americans are working. More Americans are safer. More Americans have hope. For many of our tribes, it is a time of new economic growth and innovation.

As President, I will work to forge a relationship of trust and respect with our tribal governments - one that promotes real independence, and provides real support at the same time reaffirming our trust responsibility.

And I will stand against any effort to trample your sovereignty rights. It is wrong for the Washington State Republican Party to try to strip away tribal sovereignty. One Washington Republican even said, "if Indians don't like it, send in troops." Rather than dredge up some of the most horrific episodes of our past, I believe we need to move together into our shared future.

That is why I am running for President -- and that is why I ask for your help in this great undertaking. Indian country has been a vital part of America's past. Together, we can see that it remains a vital part of America's future.

- IMDiversity - African-American Village - Asian-American Village Hispanic-American Village - Native-American Village - Women's Village -

< http://www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=817

- Series Introduction, FAQ, and Full Questionnaire - < http://www.imdiversity.com/article_detail.asp?Article_ID=808

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Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 12:34:34 -0800
From: Dennis Turner <daturner@NCEN.ORG>
Subject: Re: Fw: Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

Hello everyone: Both candidates talk briefly on old issues, promise changes, but also make sure to include that they will continue with the "trust relationship" that means more of the same old colonial paternalistic behavior. Nothing about getting rid of the BIA altogether, and going government to government. It all looks like business as usual to me. As for me, I find gore to be the less of two evils. Bush on the other-hand talks a good game but don't forget his dad pushed dope in our ethnic communities, to fund contras to kill Sumos, and other Arawaks along with other poor people in Nicaragua. If the fruit falls close to the tree, then what do we want with bush?


Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 13:06:41 -0800
From: Larry Daley <daleyl@PEAK.ORG>
Subject: Re: Fw: Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

Tau Dennis:

To view one's self as a victim is not the best way to may things better.

You might read Reynaldo Reyes and J.K. Wilson. 1992. Rafaga the life story of Nicaraguan Miskito Comandante. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman Oklahoma.

This is the account of a Miskito Indian who did not stand passively by but fought against Somoza, then the Sandista Government, and after that helped make peace and democracy in Nicaragua.

Larry


Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2000 14:41:30 -0800
From: Dennis Turner <daturner@NCEN.ORG>
Subject: Re: Fw: Bush and Gore on Sovereign Right

Good point Larry: Yes, my people (Sumo) and the Miskitos can and do put up a hell of a fight. I was just wanting to note that Bush Camp may be highly suspect. As for victim, not here baby.


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