By Danielle Brutus, Spring 2014 Education Fund Intern
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) recently held its annual State of Indian Nations convening to discuss the current state of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal communities.
President Brian Cladoosby spoke to the current economic struggles that the Indian Country is facing and urged congress to support them both financially and politically. “We all want good schools and sustainable employment… safe communities and new opportunities…drinkable water and breathable air. And like all people, what we want, above all, is a bright future for our children and grandchildren… a future of limitless possibilities. We can achieve these goals… if we work together,” Cladoosby said.
Native people are America’s most rural population. They maintain more than five percent of the land base, making the Indian Country the nation’s fourth largest state. However, the Indian Country suffers greatly from lack of health coverage, public funding (schools, highways, and hospitals), and government support. Families are living in homes that do not have running water or a proper sewer system, the highway systems are not properly structured, and schools do not have proper funding to provide adequate education.
Cladoosby noted the importance of investing in Native youth, since nearly 42 percent of Indian Country’s population is under the age of 24. “Native youth are disproportionately vulnerable,” he said. “Many grow up in communities where jobs are scarce or even non-existent… where classrooms lack basic essentials.”
NCAI is actively working to advocate for investments in tribal economies, to remove barriers to economic development, and finally honor tribes as governments. “Together, we can build a strong partnership between all of our nations… one that will secure a brighter future for all our people,” Cladoosby said.
To read his full speech or to watch a video of the event, please visit NCAI’s website here.
NCAI also recently released a short video – “Proud To Be” – leading up to the Super Bowl to highlight ongoing efforts to change the name of the Washington, D.C. football team.