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Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Announces Plan to Uphold Tribal Sovereignty and Improve the Lives of Native Americans

February 27, 2020

Mike's policy calls for partnering with tribes to improve health care, build infrastructure, and end violence against indigenous women

NEW YORK — Today, Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg released his plan to uphold tribal sovereignty and improve the lives of Native Americans. Mike's plan has four key pillars that reverse historical injustices, affirm tribal sovereignty, and protect the most vulnerable Native Americans from assault, attacks on voting rights, and health disparities: 1) reaffirm Indian Country land rights, upgrade infrastructure, and combat environmental injustice; 2) elevate tribal authority and protect Native American women and girls; 3) improve health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives; and 4) enhance economic and educational opportunities for tribal members. Importantly, Mike will honor the treaty and trust relationship between the federal government and tribes.

By contrast, Donald Trump is racist and disrespectful toward Native Americans. His federal budgets have proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to essential services for Native Americans, including education, law enforcement, natural resource management, and social services. As president, Mike will reverse this rhetoric and policy of hate by listening to and respecting the concerns of Native Americans and working to improve the lives of all indigenous Americans.

"The hostility and disrespect Donald Trump has shown toward Native Americans is disgraceful, and it will end with my administration," said Mike Bloomberg. "The indigenous peoples of this land deserve respect – respect for their sovereignty, respect for their right to self-governance, respect for their culture – and that's what they'll receive when I'm president. I will increase Native American representation in the White House, deliver more resources to the Indian Health Service and tribal colleges, and treat tribal nations with the dignity they deserve."


America's 574 federally-recognized tribes have exercised their rightful sovereignty in important ways and have increasingly taken control of their own affairs. Native Americans' work to preserve sacred lands, combat climate change, protect indigenous languages and cultural traditions, and honorably serve in the U.S. military are extremely important to our country, and recognition of such must be at the center of federal policy and the peer-to-peer relationship between the president and tribal leaders.

Indigenous peoples living on reservations and in communities across the U.S. have a right to quality, affordable health care, good education, well-paying jobs, vibrant communities, a clean environment, and a voice in government. But today, American Indians face significant disparities: They are half as likely to have a bachelor's degree or higher than the general population, and their unemployment rate is 70% higher. In 2018, the poverty rate for American Indians was 24%, the highest of any group. American Indian median household income is approximately one-third lower than the nation as a whole. Native Americans also experience alarming and significant health disparities, and more than half of Native American women have faced sexual violence.

Tribal nations have long been deprived of a meaningful partner in Washington, D.C. and with Mike's presidency that will come to an end. He'll foster a relationship built on partnership and respect and will prioritize tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and peer-to-peer collaboration. The first people of our great country will be prioritized not patronized under Mike's administration.

Mike's Plan

1. Reaffirm Indian Country land rights, bolster infrastructure, and protect Native lands from environmental degradation.

  • Rebuild tribal homelands by reaffirming and restoring the Interior Department's authority to take tribal lands into trust.
  • Assess and fund tribes' infrastructure needs and bring high-speed internet to the nearly one-third of people living on tribal lands who lack it.
  • Reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act to improve housing in Indian Country.
  • Reverse Trump-era environmental protection rollbacks to ensure Indian Country has clean air and clean water.
  • Negotiate for indigenous rights protection in all international climate agreements and work with tribes to make tribal communities, lands, and infrastructure more resilient.
  • Engage in full and meaningful consultation with tribes on federal land management.

2. Strengthen tribes' legal and civil rights, protect indigenous women and girls, and elevate Native voices in government.

  • Expand tribal legal jurisdiction over crimes committed on reservations, while ensuring constitutional protections for all.
  • Launch an unprecedented effort to strengthen protections for indigenous women and girls, who face violence, sexual assault, and homicide, as well as trafficking, at disparate rates.
  • Work with Congress to Pass Savanna's Act, reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act with strong protections for Native communities, and direct the Justice Department to work with tribes to investigate cases of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW).
  • Support and defend the Indian Child Welfare Act to ensure that Native children are not unnecessarily separated from their communities.
  • Appoint a senior White House adviser for Native issues to elevate tribal issues to the top of the federal government and restore the Tribal Nations Conference.
  • Discourage states from imposing unreasonable voting requirements on Native Americans and encourage them to accept tribal IDs as valid voter identification.
  • Eliminate discriminatory laws and practices, such as voter roll purging.

3. Improve health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

  • Fully fund the Indian Health Service — including facilities operated by the IHS and tribes, as well as Urban Indian Health Programs — and work with Congress to make full funding mandatory.
  • Lower Native Americans' extraordinarily high rate of death by suicide by increasing access to mental health care and supporting the Native American Suicide Prevention Act.
  • End the opioid and behavioral health epidemics affecting Native communities by expanding access to addiction treatment and mental health services.

4. Improve economic and educational opportunities for tribal members.

  • Raise the federal minimum wage to $15/hour.
  • Put money back into Native Americans' pockets by expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and distributing it monthly, in line with people's real needs.
  • Triple direct federal Title III funding to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including tribal two-year and four-year colleges.
  • Invest in job creation and entrepreneurship by increasing federal funding for Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and the Small Business Administration's Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) Program.

Mike's Record

Mike has made the health and well-being of Americans and people in need around the world a centerpiece of his philanthropic work. He will bring his record of getting things done to the worst problems facing Indian Country today. As mayor of New York City and as a philanthropist, Mike has made record investments in the types of core infrastructure — like roads, water, and transportation — tribal communities and reservations need upgraded. Mike is a global leader in fighting to protect the environment, and he's up to this fight of protecting Native Americans and other indigenous peoples from the heightened risks they face from climate change. Life expectancy for Native Americans is below other American populations. As mayor of New York City, Mike increased life expectancy by 3 years, outpacing the national average. Native Americans are disproportionately affected by addiction in the U.S. Mike fought opioid and other drug abuse in New York City, including restricting the prescription of powerful painkillers in emergency rooms. As a philanthropist, he launched a three-year $50 million initiative in 2018 to help states fighting the opioid epidemic, an effort that supports current programs and encourages the development of new solutions. Research suggests voter suppression measures cause Native Americans to have lower voter turnout rates than other communities in the U.S. Mike's commitment to voting rights span from his time as mayor, where he proposed progressive reforms, through his more recent philanthropy, including his efforts to support voting rights.

On the issues most important to indigenous peoples, Mike has a record of getting things done.

Trump's Record

President Trump's treatment of Native American communities has been shameful and inflammatory, embodied in his repeated habit of calling Senator Elizabeth Warren "Pocahontas," which he means as a slur. This is nothing new: for decades, Trump has openly disparaged Native Americans, and once secretly paid $1 million for ads to portray Native Americans in upstate New York as drug traffickers and criminals.

His actions as president match his rhetoric. Trump has proposed major budget cuts to a range of critical programs that serve Native American communities. His administration has also proposed cuts to essential health care programs, including the Indian Health Service. Existing and proposed measures impacting Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act affect Native Americans and Alaska Natives immensely.

The Trump administration has also severely undermined tribal ownership over Native lands, shrinking Bears Ears National Monument by 85% without consulting tribal leaders, restructuring the land buy-back program, constructing his border wall over ancestral Native lands, and advocating for privatizing and drilling on lands important to tribes.

Reactions to Mike's plan from Tribal Leaders, Elected Officials, and Experts

Geoffrey Standing Bear, Principal Chief of the Osage Nation: "Mike Bloomberg's plan to uphold tribal sovereignty and improve the lives of Native Americans is achievable and long overdue. He will reaffirm Indian Country land rights, upgrade our infrastructure and combat environmental injustice. He'll elevate tribal authority and protect Native American women and girls. He will fully fund the Indian Health Services and will enhance economic and educational opportunities for tribal members. I deeply appreciate his vision and am so thrilled that he came and listened to the Oklahoma Native American leaders and that we see our comments reflected in his policy plans. Mike is a man of his word and I know he will get the job done for Native Americans."

Arizona State Representative Arlando Teller: "The infrastructure on and around the lands of the Navajo Nation is appalling. We need a partner in the White House who understands and cares about the challenges our communities face. Mike Bloomberg will fund infrastructure projects and increase broadband access on tribal lands. He also will make sure tribes are consulted on the management of federal lands. And he will expand opportunities for tribal members, improving our schools, supporting entrepreneurs and creating new jobs. Mike knows that when we invest in our communities, we create a thriving economy that benefits all of us."

Arizona State Representative Myron Tsosie: "The federal government should have a strong partnership with our tribal nations. Unfortunately, critical funding continues to get held up in Washington. Native communities need action now. Mike Bloomberg's plan is developed by indigenous people themselves and will build bridges between the White House and tribal nations. His plan provides tribes with clean water, electricity, and sufficient transportation, expanding opportunities and services for Native Americans across the country."

Lisa Blackhorse, Native American Activist and Former Arizona Democratic Native American Caucus Chair: "We are in a critical time to address Missing and Murdered Native Women and human trafficking in our urban, reservation, and village communities. I have a relative that has been missing since 2009. We need help from the federal government to address this crisis. Mike Bloomberg's plan will make our communities safer for women and families. He will work with Congress to finally pass Savanna's Act and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, giving our tribal law enforcement the tools and resources they need. He also will invest in expanding broadband access on tribal lands to better connect Native communities with law enforcement."

Andrew Lee, American Indian Advocate and Policy Expert: "American Indians and Alaska Natives are best positioned for success when they are in charge of their own destinies. I'm grateful that Mike Bloomberg understands the importance of self-determination, and is committed to enhancing opportunities for Native nations to govern themselves. His plan also outlines a pathway to better health care access by fully funding the Indian Health Service, permanently reauthorizing the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, and passing the Suicide Prevention Act. Mike's plan also will help ensure Native women have healthier pregnancies and that Native people suffering from depression or addiction get the treatment they need."

Leslie Wheelock, Board Member of Oneida ESC Group: "We need to protect our Native American children. Mike Bloomberg will uphold the Indian Child Welfare Act and ensure that Native American families stay together. I am happy that he is standing with us in this fight to defend Native Americans' rights of self-governance and self-determination."

Michael Bloomberg, Bloomberg Campaign Press Release - Mike Bloomberg Announces Plan to Uphold Tribal Sovereignty and Improve the Lives of Native Americans Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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