Tester takes Chairmanship of Senate Indian Affairs Committee

By: www.tester.senate.gov

(U.S. SENATE) – After serving Indian Country in the U.S. Senate for
seven years, Montana Senator Jon Tester this week stepped forward to
become the new Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

Tester,
who grew up and lives near the Rocky Boys Reservation in north-central
Montana, has served on the committee since his first days in the Senate.
He says his long-standing ties to Indian Country and his dedication to
working with tribes will lead to new opportunities for all Native
Americans.

“Working together, we will expand economic
opportunities, create safer communities, stronger health care systems,
and responsibly manage the natural resources that are so abundant in
Indian Country,” Tester said.  “And while we won’t get it done in a day,
I have full confidence in our ability to make big strides for all
Native Americans.”

Tester, who recently gave the Congressional
response to the National Congress of American Indians’ State of Indian
Nations address, plans to focus on a wide-range of issues affecting
Indian Country, with an emphasis on improving tribal education.

“Education
– especially early education – is the foundation for sound life choices
that increase economic security and help us climb the ladder of
success,” said Tester, a former elementary school teacher.  “But
education’s greatest value is how it expands our worldview and prepares
us to take on the challenges we face every day.  As Chairman, I will
continue to seek more ways to improve tribal schools and tribal colleges
and ensure Native students have every opportunity to succeed.”

Tester
replaces Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) as head of the committee.
Cantwell chaired her final committee hearing on Wednesday to hear
testimony about the implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act.

At
the hearing, Tester pressed panelists for more ways to get state,
county and tribal law enforcement officials to work together to protect
Native communities and to support offenders working to re-integrate into
tribal communities.

Tester recently introduced legislation to preserve Native languages to help strengthen Indian culture and education and told the President that the federal government must meet its trust obligations and support Indian Country.

More information about Tester’s efforts to improve life in Indian Country is available on his website HERE.