President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday to reform how the government supports tribal nations in an effort to give Native Americans more control over the federal funds they receive to uplift their communities. File Photo by Ting Shen/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 6 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday to reform how the government supports tribal nations in an effort to give Native Americans more control over the federal funds they receive to uplift their communities.
The primary goal is to address historical challenges faced by tribal nations, aiming to make government funds more accessible, flexible and equitable, the White House said.
The action aims to boost tribal economies and support future generations of Native Americans by setting up policies to create more financial autonomy, as well as additional room for self-governance, with the hope of allowing tribes to take increased ownership of their needs and services.
"The last 50 years has proven that a strong tribal nation is the most important factor in ensuring the economic, political and cultural well-being of Native people," the White House said. "The executive order affirms that tribal self-governance is about the fundamental right of a people to determine their own destiny and to prosper and flourish on their own terms."
As part of the directive, Biden will order federal agencies to redesign programs in alignment with tribal priorities, which would support trust and collaboration between the government and tribes as Biden seeks to streamline federal funding.
Another provision of the order is designed to measure chronic funding shortfalls of existing federal money for tribes, with Biden directing the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the Office and Management and Budget and the White House Domestic Policy Council to develop recommendations for additional funding and programming, the White House said.
Annually, federal agencies will be required to report their progress in executing Biden's order.
The order also establishes a Tribal Access to Capital Clearinghouse that will act as a shopping center for tribes to apply for federal funds.
The move by Biden comes as tribal nations still face many barriers to fully exercise their sovereign rights despite decades of federal programs designed to loosen Washington's grip on funding for Native Americans.
Many funding and support programs that tribes rely on are difficult to access, have burdensome federal reporting requirements, feature unnecessary limitations, or impose requirements that drain resources and undermine the ability to make autonomous decisions, the White House said.
The order will seek to change that, while building on other government investments in tribal nations, including $32 billion from Biden's American Rescue Plan, and an additional $13 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support projects in tribal communities. Another $700 million from the Inflation Reduction Act focuses on climate resilience and clean energy development.
Moreover, billions of dollars in federal contracts are being directed to Native American-owned businesses through the Buy Indian Act.
The order also secures the first-ever advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service, providing stability and ensuring access to lifesaving healthcare, even during potential government funding lapses.