WASHINGTON, D.C. - On March 26, Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. provided the Navajo Nation statement before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies regarding the upcoming FY 2010 budget request. In attendance at the hearing were Subcommittee Chairman Norman Dicks (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Michael Simpson (R-Idaho). Other committee members present included Representatives Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and Ken Calvert (R-Calif.).
President Shirley addressed the needs of strengthening the purpose of tribal consultation with Native nations regarding Native issues. Shirley noted this appeared to have been weakened during the previous administration. Chairman Dicks responded that he is positive this administration will have a different approach to tribal consultation.
The needs and increased funding of education, transportation, public safety and the Indian Health Service were emphasized during the presentation. President Shirley also spoke on disparities that exist among Native nations regarding the Indian Reservation Roads program, which has caused some friction between land-based and non-land-based tribes. Afterwards, Representative Cole commented that he hopes any attempts in rewriting the program will calm any conflict and help bring together all tribes to push for an increase in funding for roads.
The Navajo Nation receives a substantial amount of federal funding under the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies spending bill. Most notably, the Navajo Nation receives BIA education funding (both for operations and construction), law enforcement and detention facility funding, tribal court operation funding, natural resources management, roads construction, and some housing and tribal government development funding.
This subcommittee hearing brought together more than 50 tribal leaders from various Native Nations and organizations to testify on the needs facing native peoples across the country.