“Native American leaders are once again pushing for a seat at the decision-making table, saying this week that tribal nations have been overlooked for ‘too often and too long.’ Their latest concern comes with Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan…That same day, President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) told the annual gathering of tribal leaders that, in 2018, no infrastructure bill should pass unless it includes Indian Country’s priorities.” A. St. Clair, NPR
President Jefferson Keel of the National Congress of American Indians gives the annual State of the Indian Nations address.
Excerpt: Tribal Leaders: Infrastructure Bill Should Include Indian Country Priorities — Andrienne St. Clair, NPR
“Trump urged Congress to act quickly on an infrastructure bill that would stimulate the economy, shorten the process to approve building projects and address continuing infrastructure needs in rural areas. The proposed bill would also give more power to state and local authorities and provide training for the younger American workforce.
Trump’s proposal reiterates points he outlined in the State of the Union last month, when he described America as ‘a nation of builders.’Keel used a similar phrase in his State of the Indian Nations address on Monday.
‘Native peoples are also builders and managers of roads and bridges and other essential infrastructure,’ he said. Keel said that a 2018 infrastructure bill should ensure that all communities — including native communities — have the framework needed to succeed. He emphasized that Congress should give tribes the same opportunities that state and local governments have to raise money, invest sufficient funding in basic building needs, remove barriers for tribes to make decisions and support tribal right to consent to developments that affect tribes and tribal lands…Keel is on board with the president’s proposal.
‘It’s not that we disagree with his priorities,’ Keel told NPR on Thursday. ‘We just want to be included in any of those plans for development of plans or policies that affect Indian Country in a way that we can not only protect our lands, but we can improve the relationship.’
And, from what Trump said in his State of the Union address, he seems to be on board with the entire country working together to improve the country’s interior:
‘Together, we can reclaim our building heritage,’ he said. ‘We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.’
But then, it may come down to semantics and how Trump defines ‘together,’ ‘we,’ and ‘American.”