Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
Michael Smith - BIA
MAUI, HAWAII - The US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs heard testimony in Maui, Hawaii even though Congress is on summer recess. The hearing was called, "Strengthening Self-Sufficiency: Overcoming Barriers to Economic Development in Native Communities."
Hawaii is home to US Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka - Democrat, chairman of the US Committee on Indian Affairs, who hosted the hearing.
Michael Smith, Deputy Bureau Director of Field Operations at the Bureau of Indian Affairs testified that there are common roadblocks among American Indian tribes that inhibit economic development in Indian Country.
According to Smith, these common roadblocks are:
"Many of these roadblocks are products of the history of federal-state-tribal relations, and have tribe-specific nuances that must be addressed on a tribe-by-tribe basis," testified Smith. "Therefore, Indian tribes must be the driving force behind federal policies targeted toward job creation and economic development in Indian country, which is consistent with the policy of Indian self-determination."
To combat the roadblocks, Smith recommended legislation that would overcome the uncertainty in accruing land in trust for tribes, as a result of the United States Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, 129 S. Ct. 1058 (2009). He called the Court's decision the primary barrier to economic development in Indian Country.
Smith cited the recent Memorandum of Understanding with Harvard University's Project on American Indian Economic Development which will allow the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs and Harvard to collaborate on promote tribal economic development through research, outreach, and leadership education.
Among other witnesses to testify were: The Honorable Nathan Small, Chairman, Shoshone-Bannock Tribe; The Honorable W. Ron Allen, Tribal Chair, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe; Michelle Kauhane, Deputy Director, State of Hawaii, Department of Hawaii Home Lands; Brian Patterson, President, United South and Eastern Tribes; Robin Danner, President/CEO, Council for Native American Advancement; and Michael Hudson, Operations Manager, Wow Farm, Inc.
posted August 18, 2011 6:50 am edt
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