Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) today sent a letter to recently confirmed U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary, Sally Jewell, about working together to improve conditions in tribal communities. Thune’s letter highlights the many challenges to Indian Country including both a lack of basic public safety and inadequate economic development, which have made it increasingly difficult for tribes to provide adequate health care and housing for families or a quality education for children.
“Improving the conditions for tribal communities and honoring the commitments of the federal government in Indian Country is an important responsibility and priority,” said Thune. “I look forward to partnering with Secretary Jewell to address tribal public safety and justice, education, and economic development, and am hopeful that together we can find lasting solutions that improve the quality of life for our Native American tribes.”
The text of the Senator’s letter follows:
April 11, 2013
Ms. Sally Jewell
Secretary of the Interior
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street N.W.—M.S. 7729
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Jewell:
Congratulations on your confirmation as the Secretary of the Interior. I look forward to working with you on a variety of issues, including improving conditions in tribal communities.
The federal government shares a unique relationship with Native American tribes as a result of our treaty and trust responsibilities, and the Department of Interior plays a leading role in helping to honor the commitments of the federal government in Indian Country. As you prepare to lead this agency, I write to highlight the great challenges many tribal communities around the country, including those in South Dakota, continue to face and underscore my commitment to working with you to address these issues.
As you may know, a lack of basic safety and inadequate economic development in many tribal communities has made it increasingly difficult for Tribes to provide adequate health care and housing for families or a quality education for children. Recent data shows that, by race, poverty rates for American Indians and Alaska Natives is the highest in the country. Statistics like this remind us there is much work to be done. We have a responsibility to honor our commitments in Indian Country and in doing so to help to improve the quality of life for Native people both on and off the reservations.
I encourage you and your staff to meet with tribal leaders to better understand the challenges they face and what we can do here in Washington on their behalf. I am hopeful that you will be a strong advocate for key Native American priorities given your role as a member of this administration.
I look forward to working with you to meet the significant challenges facing Native Americans in South Dakota and across the country, particularly tribal public safety and justice, education, and economic development. I am confident that by working together we can find lasting solutions.
Senator John Thune