Testimony

During the year, USET leadership steps to the microphone to advocate legislation on various issues, subjects, and initiatives.  Click on the year to view testimony made by USET leadership.

Topic Title
Land
Tribal Consultation / Trust.
USET SPF Testimony for the Record of House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples Hearing on H.R. 375, H.R. 312, and the RESPECT Act 4.17.2019
SUMMARY: USET SPF asserts that the federal government’s objective in the trust responsibility and obligations to our Nations must be to support healthy and sustainable self-determining Tribal governments, which fundamentally includes the restoration of lands to all federally-recognized Tribal Nations, as well as the legal defense of these land acquisitions. It is vital that the land-into-trust process be available to and applied equally to all federally-recognized Tribal Nations. This parity is central to the federal government’s legal and moral obligations to all of Indian Country. With this in mind, USET SPF continues to call for the immediate passage of a fix to the decision in Carcieri v. Salazar that contains the two features necessary to restore parity to the land-into-trust process: (1) a reaffirmation of the status of current trust lands; and (2) confirmation that the Secretary has authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized Tribal Nations.USET SPF also supports the spirit and intent of the Requirements, Expectations, and Standard Procedures 3 for Executive Consultation with Tribes (RESPECT) Act, which would codify consultation requirements for all federal agencies and departments, including independent agencies. This is consistent with our efforts to modernize the federal trust relationship, including ensuring that Tribal Nations are full and equal participants in the shaping of federal Indian policy. We believe there are opportunities to further refine and strengthen this draft legislation, including addressing issues related to the achievement of Tribal Nation consent, as well as supporting inter-agency coordination and training, and the creation of an Indian desk at the Office of Management and Budget. In addition, we share some concern about the unintentionally narrow scope of the Act. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Chairman Grijalva to sharpen the legislative language and ensure the RESPECT Act is appropriately comprehensive.
Budget USET SPF Testimony for the Record on FY 2020 House Interior Appropriations Budget 3.15.2019
SUMMARY: Federal appropriations for Indian programs are a key part of the federal government’s trust responsibility, yet funding continues to be so inadequate in relation to the trust and treaty obligation owed to Native communities by the United States. While we do not have the President’s full FY 2020 budget, what we do have paints a disturbing picture of an Administration that has largely deemed Indian Affairs and the federal government’s trust obligation to be of minimal significance, especially in contrast to its other priorities. The Administration continues to send a powerfully negative message to Indian Country. In reducing, eliminating, and calling into question the constitutionality of federal Indian programs, this Administration is ignoring and undermining its trust responsibility to Tribal Nations. Bottom line, strong and vibrant Tribal Nations, sovereigns that exist within the domestic borders of the United States, ultimately have a positive impact on America.
Environment USET SPF Testimony for the Record on Subcommittee for Indigenous People Hearing: The Impacts of Climate Change on Tribal Communities 2.26.2019
SUMMARY: The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), published by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which acknowledges Indigenous peoples in the United States as, “diverse and distinct political and cultural groups and populations” and affirms that, “Though they may be affected by climate change in ways that are similar to others in the United States, Indigenous peoples can also be affected uniquely and disproportionately.” We highlight three “Key Messages” within the NCA4 regarding climate change impacts on Indigenous economies, health, and adaptation, and those impacts on USET SPF Member Tribal Nations. We further discuss that successful adaptation for USET SPF member Tribal Nations will rely on use of Indigenous knowledge, resilient and robust social systems and protocols, and a commitment to principles of self-determination. However, it will also require the acknowledgment from federal, state, and local governments that the impacts of early colonial and United States history have created many of the institutional barriers USET SPF member Tribal Nations face today in adapting to climate change.