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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 6, 1998
                           PRESIDENT CLINTON:
     A Record of Partnership with American Indians and Alaska Natives

"My administration has worked in partnership with tribal protect American Indian religious freedom, promote tribal self-determination, preserve tribal natural resources and provide economic opportunities for Native Americans. I look forward to continuing this government-to-government relationship in order to build on the progress we have made in Indian Country."

President Bill Clinton

On April 29, 1994, President Clinton became the first President to invite the leaders of all federally recognized Tribes to the White House. On this historic occasion, the President pledged that his Administration would work with Tribal leaders to establish a true government-to-government partnership. The Clinton Administration has delivered on this commitment by:

Strengthening the Relationship Between the Federal Government and Tribal Nations

In 1994, the President executed a Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies directing agencies to consult, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, with tribal governments prior to taking actions that affect federally recognized tribal governments.

On May 14, 1998, the President issued an executive order that strengthens and makes effective across Administrations the 1994 Government-to-Government memorandum. This executive order serves to establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in the development of regulatory practices on Federal matters that significantly or uniquely affect their communities, to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates upon Indian tribal governments, and to streamline the application process for and increase the availability of waivers to Indian tribal governments.

Expanding the role of American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout his Administration

Appointed 59 Native Americans to all levels of his Administration, including 10 to top positions requiring Senate confirmation and 30 to Presidential appointment positions.

Created the Office of Tribal Justice to promote government-to-government relations with Indian Tribes and ensure aggressive representation of tribal sovereignty in the courts.

Established the American Indian Environmental Office to work with Tribes to protect water quality and the environment in Indian Country.

Created a permanent White House working group composed of all Executive Branch Departments to advance Tribal sovereignty across the administration.

Protecting Religious Freedom

Signed an executive order that requires federal agencies to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.

Successfully fought for passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act Amendments and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in order to protect the right of free exercise of Tribal religions.

Directed federal agencies to ensure efficient collection and distribution of available eagle feathers and eagle parts to American Indians and Alaska Natives for traditional religious purposes.

Promoting Tribal Self-Determination

Supported passage and implementation of the Indian SelfDetermination Act and the Tribal Self-Governance Act, which give Tribal governments control of most federal resources spent within Indian Country.

Successfully fought attempts to penalize tribes for exercising their powers of self-governance and allowing states to tax Tribal governments on new trust lands.

Increasing Educational Opportunities

Proposed a 59% increase in funding for construction and facilities improvement and repair for Native American Schools in his FY 1999 budget.

Provided a 10 percent increase (from $60 million to $66 million) for the Indian Education Act in his FY 1999 budget. Serving nearly half a million Native American students, the Act?s programs include grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), Indian tribes and organizations, Indian-controlled schools, and individuals to address special educational and cultural academic needs of Native Americans.

Signed an executive order that aims to ensure that tribal colleges and universities are more fully recognized as accredited institutions, have access to the opportunities afforded other institutions, and have Federal resources committed to them on a continuing basis.

Providing Economic Development Opportunities in Indian Country

Established an Office of Native American Programs within the Minority Business Development Association at the Department of Commerce, with eight Native American Business Development Centers and a business consultant, that provides management and technical assistance to Native American businesses.

Signed the Community Development Banking and Regulatory Improvement Act, which promotes more lending in Indian Country;

Protecting Tribal Natural Resources

Established for the first time the right of Alaska Natives to fish for subsistence purposes.

Requested more than $160 million (a 15 percent increase) in his FY 1999 budget for EPA support of tribal environmental protection programs on reservations. As a part of this program, EPA will continue to support tribal capacity to implement, operate, and enforce Federal environmental laws.

Supported the exercise of Northwest Tribes' treaty fishing rights.

Improving Health and Safety for American Indian and Alaska Native Families

Supported funding for continued implementation of the Indian Child Welfare Act and tribal consensus amendments to protect Indian families and culture.

Signed into law the Indian Tribal Justice Support Act to improve criminal law enforcement in Indian Country.

Directed the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Interior to work with tribal leaders and propose improvements for public safety and criminal justice in Indian Country. As a result of this process, the President's FY 1999 budget contains a $182 million initiative within the Justice and Interior Departments to raise the level of law enforcement in Indian country to national standards.

Devoted $54 million in his FY 1999 budget to hiring police officers through the COPS program exclusively in Indian country.