We exercise jurisdiction over lands that would make us the fourth largest state. We run dozens of social programs previously administered by federal agencies or states. And, we protect reservation environments in the manner that states regulate off reservation lands.Tribal governments have proven our capacity to grow our economies, educate our people, and manage our resources. We need the federal government to put decision-making power back in the hands of the people who live in Indian Country -- the people who know best because these are our homelands, these are our people. The old way of doing things causes missed opportunities every day. The Swinomish Tribe, in Washington state, saw this first hand. The tribe had worked out a deal with Wal-Mart for a big new store on the reservation. This was a great deal -- a million dollars a year in lease revenue for the Tribe, and new jobs for tribal members and people throughout the community. As with every lease on Indian lands, the federal government needed to approve it. The process took more than a year and by the time it was approved economic conditions had changed and Wal-Mart had made other plans.
And by creating it, we will remove the barriers that cost us jobs and opportunity. This is a goal I think we can all agree on, across the political spectrum, and it is something we can achieve with a change in policy, not an increase in spending.That is the kind of solution Washington is crying out for and we in Indian Country are eager to answer the call.
Moment of Opportunity
We know what's best because we live in Indian Country. We know where the needs are, and we know what works for our people. No one understands Indian life better than the Indian nations themselves. Give us flexibility.