FCNL Native American Update

Michael Shell BrightCrow at InfoAve.Net
Fri Sep 4 20:16:21 JEST 1998

Dear Ones,

For those of you who share a concern for Native American legislative issues,
here is the latest Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) update.
Please share it with others.

Blessed Be,

Date: Fri, 04 Sep 1998 11:13:30 -0400
From: Aura Kanegis <aura at fcnl.org>
Subject: FCNL Native American Legislative Updates For September 4, 1998


The following are updates and action suggestions from the Friends Committee
on National Legislation (FCNL) regarding Indian affairs legislation for the
coming two weeks.  These messages focus on selected legislation which
Congress is considering now, and suggest some points that you may wish to
make in your communications with Congress.  These messages are intended as a
supplement to other FCNL Native American Program materials and do not
reflect FCNL's complete policy position on any issue, nor do they include
all pertinent facts on any topic.  For more information, or to request the
FCNL Indian Report and other background documents, please contact Aura
Kanegis, FCNL Legislative Associate for Native American Affairs:  (202)
547-6000 ext. 113; 245 2nd St. NE, Washington, DC 20002; aura at fcnl.org.

FY99 APPROPRIATIONS.  The annual process of appropriations horse-trading is
well underway, and more negative riders may now be added to the list of
concerns for tribes in FY99 Appropriations bills.  In addition to existing
funding concerns and legislative riders that we have previously reported on,
including threats to self-determination contracting, changes to tribal
priority allocations, and a prohibition against the Shakopee tribe taking
lands into trust, other unforseen amendments may be possible when the full
Senate considers its version of the FY99 Interior Appropriations bill.
Amendments may be offered in the Senate to:

 --Restrict tribal sovereign immunity

 --Tax tribal revenues or place a moratorium on taking tribal lands into trust

 --Extend the moratorium on federal implementation of a subsistence priority
in federal waterways in Alaska, a move which may critically jeopardize
efforts by Native Alaskans to preserve their subsistence hunting and fishing
rights (See related NALU item below)

 --Block the Secretary of Interior from enacting procedures for negotiating
agreements between state governments and tribes under the Indian Gaming
Regulatory Act.

ACTION:  Please contact your Senators to ask that they oppose any
controversial riders such as these which may be introduced to the Interior
Appropriations Bill when it comes to the Senate floor.

CENSUS 2000.  The census provides information that is the basis for
virtually all demographic information used by educators, policy makers, and
community leaders.  Census data is used to guide the annual distribution of
hundreds of billions of dollars in critical services, to monitor and enforce
compliance with civil rights statutes, and to reapportion congressional
seats and legislative districts.  Federal spending decisions for schools,
crime prevention, health care, and transportation are often based on
population data.  In the 1990 census, Native Americans living on
reservations were estimated to be the most disproportionately undercounted
population in the nation, with an estimated net undercount of 12.2%.  As a
result of this inaccuracy, many individuals were denied both federal
benefits and an equal voice in their government.   

Following the 1990 census, there was consensus among the Census Bureau,
professional statisticians, and Congress that significant changes were
required for the 2000 census.  A National Academy of Sciences Panel to
Evaluate Alternative Census Methodologies studied the issue carefully, and
recommended a plan that combines a more aggressive enumeration effort with
modern scientific sampling techniques to eliminate the pervasive undercount
of people of color, children, and the urban and rural poor.  The Republican
leadership in Congress is now seeking to block full funding for the Census
Bureau to implement these scientific sampling methods. 

ACTION:  Please contact your senators and representative to urge that they
support a full year of funding for Census 2000, and to ensure that the
upcoming census is as accurate as possible by using the best, most
up-to-date scientific methods as recommended by the National Academy of

Native peoples continue to rely upon hunting and fishing to provide their
day-to-day sustenance.  To Alaska Natives, subsistence hunting and fishing
are not simply a means of survival but an integral aspect of their culture.
Because of this, Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands
Conservation Act (ANILCA) was passed in 1980 to protect those subsistence
rights.  Now Sen. Murkowski (AK) has introduced legislation that would once
again extend a moratorium on federal implementation of a subsistence
priority in federal waterways in Alaska, a move which may critically
jeopardize efforts by Native Alaskans to preserve their subsistence hunting
and fishing rights under Title VIII of ANILCA.  It is likely that he will
offer this language as an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill when
it is brought before the full Senate for consideration. 

Sen. Stevens (AK), who offered the moratorium in recent years, had promised
not to extend the moratorium again if the Alaska State legislature did not
take the steps necessary to bring the state into compliance with Title VIII
in their last session.  They have failed to take that action, and further
extension of the moratorium now would demonstrate that the state need not
make serious efforts to come into compliance, increasing the momentum of
those who would rather do away with the subsistence priority altogether
(Please see page 3 of FCNL's Spring 1998 Indian Report for background
information on the Alaska subsistence issue). 

ACTION: Contact Sen. Stevens and your senators to ask that they oppose any
effort to further extend a moratorium on implementation of the important
subsistence priority called for in Title VIII of the Alaska National
Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

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