Statement of NCAI President Jefferson Keel on Broken Promises Report Released Today by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

Published on Dec 20, 2018


Statement of NCAI President Jefferson Keel on Broken Promises Report Released Today by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

NCAI stands in strong support of the key findings and recommendations contained in today’s report, which would serve to improve the state of public safety, healthcare, education, housing, and economic opportunity across Indian Country. This report confirms what Indian Country knows too well – federal programs designed to support the social and economic wellbeing of American Indians and Alaska Natives remain chronically underfunded, leaving many basic needs unmet.

The United States is a nation that bases its greatness to a significant degree on its rule of law. Within that framework, treaties and intergovernmental agreements carry supreme legal weight. Our tribal nations seek only those things promised to us and our citizens by the U.S. Constitution and the solemn treaties and agreements reached between our tribal nations and the United States. When tribal nations agreed to accept smaller land bases, the federal government promised to safeguard our right to govern ourselves, and to enable tribal governments to deliver essential services and provide them adequate resources to do so effectively. We appreciate the Broken Promises report’s recommendation that “the United States expects all nations to live up to their treaty obligations; it should live up to its own.”

While prosperity in the minds of many Americans may evoke a version of the American Dream based solely on building personal financial wealth, prosperity for most Native people centers on the preservation and practice of Native cultures and languages, active participation in sacred clan and kinship systems, and close stewardship of tribal homelands. Despite the forced taking of tribal lands and resources, attempts to terminate tribal nations’ unique political status as governments, and severe underfunding, tribal nations are slowly but surely proving successful in their efforts to build sustainable tribal economies and rebuild tribal communities in accordance with their cultural values. If the United States lived up to its commitments to support Indian Country in the ways that it has promised, tribal nations and governments could do so much more.

NCAI thanks the Commission, their staff, and the 20 members of Congress who sent the bipartisan letter requesting that the USCCR produce this updated report. We look forward to working closely with the Administration and Congress to tackle the crisis in Indian Country documented in today’s Broken Promises report.

View the report here:


About the National Congress of American Indians:
Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit

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