Tribes advocate at White House summit for $300B annual investment in Indian Country

White House Tribal Nations Summit
White House Tribal Nations Summit

Biden administration senior adviser Gene Sperling addresses tribal leaders during White House Tribal Nations Summit. (Screenshot) WASHINGTON — The federal government needs to invest $300 billion annually in Indian Country to fully promote and support economic development.

That jaw-dropping figure from tribal leaders came in response to a question posed by the Biden administration during the White House Tribal Nations Summit on Nov. 16 about what it should be doing to help Indian Country. Such an investment would easily dwarf any amount that has ever been proposed or provided yearly to tribes collectively by the federal government.

Even the unprecedented $32 billion in pandemic relief funding this year, plus the approximately $13 billion for Native nations under the bipartisan infrastructure deal, coupled with the customary budget-appropriated funding, does not come close to approaching that number.

Tribes have also requested a 5 percent set-aside of the new spending in the Build Back Better reconciliation plan under consideration in Congress, and they are requesting a 5 percent set-aside of the $28.6 billion disaster relief bill the Biden administration is currently advancing.

“What I believe, and I think my colleagues believe, firmly, that the true need of our 574 Indian nations, from Alaska to Florida, there probably is (a need) north of $250 or $300 billion annually,” W. Ron Allen, long-time chair of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, told a panel of top administration staffers. They included Gene Sperling, senior adviser to President Joe Biden; Marty Walsh, secretary of the Department of Labor; and Isabelle Guzman, administrator […]

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