WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden-Harris Administration has submitted to Congress the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2022. The request for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, is $2.7 billion, $609.9 million over the FY 2021 enacted level.
“The Interior Department plays an important role in the President’s plan to reinvest in the American people,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “From bolstering climate resiliency and increasing renewable energy, to supporting tribal nations and advancing environmental justice, President Biden’s budget will make much-needed investments in communities and projects that will advance our vision for a robust and equitable clean energy future.”
“The President’s FY 2022 budget request for Indian Affairs recognizes that serious investments that support tribal self-sufficiency, self-determination, and sovereignty are key to building back better in Indian Country,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “It ensures that Indian Affairs’ mission of service to tribes continues and supports its role in maintaining DOI’s nation-to-nation relationship and trust responsibilities.”
“We are pleased with this new commitment that will bring much needed resources to Indian Country,” said Director – Bureau of Indian Affairs Darryl LaCounte. “With it also comes an increased capacity for BIA that will enable us to better support and administer programs held in trust for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
At the Department of the Interior, the budget would:
- Empower Tribal Communities – The President’s budget supports and promotes tribal sovereignty through the BIA’s Tribal Government activity, which assists federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native entities to strengthen and sustain their self-governance capabilities through Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (IDEAA) contracts and self-governance compacts. The budget proposes $356.4 million for programs that support tribal government activities to enable tribes to plan, conduct, consolidate, and administer programs, services, functions, and activities for their citizens according to their priorities. Included in this amount is $84.8 million to support Consolidated Tribal Government programs, giving 275 tribes the flexibility to combine and manage similar or compatible contracted programs and grants. The request also includes $8 million for the Small Tribes Supplement Program, an increase of $3 million, to assist eligible tribes expand and sustain their tribal governance. In addition, the budget proposes: $346.5 million to fully fund Contract Support Costs (CSC), which enable tribes to assume responsibility for operating federal programs by covering the costs to administer the programs. The budget continues to request funding for CSC in a separate, indefinite current account to ensure full funding for this priority. Another $36.6 million is included in the budget to fully fund costs for signed lease agreements under section 105(l) of the ISDEAA and, like for CSC, funding for Payments for Tribal Leases is requested in a separate, indefinite current account to ensure full funding for this priority. The budget includes a proposal to reclassify the Payments for Tribal Leases and Contract Support Costs Accounts from discretionary to mandatory funding starting in FY 2023 to cover these critical, required payments.
- Strengthen Tribes’ Climate Resilience – The President’s budget includes increases across the full spectrum of the BIA’s natural resources programs, recognizing the importance of strong land stewardship and adaptive management not only to climate resilience but to tribal communities, as well. The request provides $61.0 million for an expanded Tribal Climate Resilience program, with increased funding for Tribal Climate Adaptation grants, funding for a new Alaska Village Relocation Grant program to aid Alaska Native communities impacted by the climate crisis, and funding to establish a Tribal Civilian Climate Corps (CCC) to tackle climate issues of the 21th Century. The budget also includes an investment of $150 million to reestablish a modified Indian Land Consolidation Program (ILCP), which will directly support Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, by enhancing tribal governments’ ability to plan for and adapt to climate change, and to build upon the Cobell Settlement-created Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations’ (LBBP) work by purchasing fractional interests from willing individual Indian landowners and conveying those interests to the tribe with jurisdiction. Also requested is an additional $10 million for land acquisition efforts within existing reservations to support sustainable land practices and a $6 million increase for the Forestry Projects program to support tribal forest development, management and harvesting.
- Improve the Quality of Life in Tribal Communities – The request includes increased funding for Indian Affairs programs that support improvements to social service, and public safety and justice programs in tribal communities that benefit tribal citizens and their families. The budget request includes $175.3 million for the BIA’s Human Services program, a program increase of $15.0 million over the FY 2021 enacted level. This amount includes $63.3 million for Social Services, a program increase of $13 million. The increase will allow for expanded implementation of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act, $3 million to expand the Tiwahe initiative, a holistic approach to addressing tribal community needs that support youth, family, community safety and stability, and cultural awareness, and proposes $18.8 million for the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) program to help keep Indian families together. The budget also proposes $507.1 million for Public Safety and Justice activities under the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS), an increase of $58.4 million from the FY 2021 enacted level, $462.3 million for 191 law enforcement and 96 corrections programs serving 227 Tribes and $43.2 million for tribal courts. Of the amount available for law enforcement, $259.5 million is for criminal investigations and police services, including $10 million to implement public safety changes resulting from the McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision; and $26.8 million is for Tribal Justice Support programs including $5.0 million for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) training and strategies to protect women in Indian communities. The budget request proposes to invest $16.5 million for Law Enforcement programs and Special Initiatives to support missing and murdered indigenous persons casework. The newly formed Missing and Murdered Unit (MMU) within OJS provides leadership and direction for cross-department and interagency coordination to put the full weight of the Federal government into investigating and resolving these cases. In response to an observed increase in drug activity on Indian lands, the request includes $14.9 million to support reducing drug trafficking and drug-related crime in tribal communities.
- Create Economic Opportunities for Tribal Governments – The President’s request invests in BIA programs that support tribal government efforts to build and sustain tribal economies. BIA views renewable energy as one of many tools available to tribes to create sustainable economies on their lands, and many reservations are well-positioned to either access or provide a stable source of competitively priced, low carbon clean energy. Within BIA Trust-Natural Resources is a $40 million program increase for the Minerals and Mining Projects program that will focus on clean energy programs, which is another way for tribes to address the climate change crisis. The budget also continues DOI’s commitment to the Indian Energy Service Center, which coordinates Indian energy development activities across Interior bureaus. The budget proposes $42.9 million for community and economic development, an increase of $18.4 million over the FY 2021 enacted level. Job Placement and Training is funded at $23.4 million and includes a $10 million program increase in job training programs focused on clean energy development, which will provide tribal members with skills for good paying jobs in the future, and $10.2 million for the BIA’s Economic Development program, which assists tribes in creating economic opportunities in their communities, of which $2 million is for the Native Business Incubator Grant program and an increase of $5 million to promote economic development throughout Indian Country. The request also includes $11.8 million for the Indian Guaranteed Loan Program (IGLP) to guarantee or insure $103.5 million in loan principal to support economic development in Indian Country.
- Increase Focus on Tribes’ Environmental Needs – The request addresses the needs of tribal communities with regard to protecting the environment. The budget includes $395.8 million for critical trust natural resources activities, a $136.9 million increase over the FY 2021 enacted level. The increase affects nearly all of the Bureau’s natural resource programs that support tribal communities in sustainable resource management, and in preparing and responding to impacts of climate change, such as drought, wildfires, changes in plants and animals important to subsistence and culture, rights protection, coastal erosion, and sea level rise. Funds will support tribes in building resilience into their resource management, infrastructure and community development activities. In addition, the request includes $169.9 million for the BIA Real Estate Services program, to manage fiduciary trust responsibilities with respect to tribal lands and resources, funds processing Indian trust-related documents supporting land and water resources use, energy development, and protection and restoration of ecosystems and important lands.
- Secure Long Promised Water Resources to Tribes – The President’s FY 2022 budget request recognizes the importance of clean, safe drinking water and water infrastructure in Indian Country. The budget proposes $75.8 million for Indian Land and Water Claims Settlements, an increase of $30.2 million. Settlements resolve tribal land and water rights claims and ensure tribes have land and water to meet domestic, economic and cultural needs. Many of the infrastructure projects supported by these agreements improve the health and well-being of tribal members, preserve existing communities, and over the long term, bring the potential for jobs and economic development. Together with funding proposed for other Indian Affairs programs to bring stability and improvements to tribal communities, these funds provide a solid foundation for prosperity for tribal communities. The budget also proposes to reclassify funding for existing enacted Indian water rights settlements from discretionary to mandatory beginning in FY 2023, establishing a comprehensive funding source for enacted settlements that are not fully funded with other sources.
- Promote Equity and Diversity – The President’s budget request for the BIA includes $400,000 as part of a Department-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility budget initiative to address identified high-priority needs in support of Executive Order 13985, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, and Executive 13988, Preventing and Combatting Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation. As part of this initiative, the Department, bureaus and offices will jointly conduct a review of the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility program across Interior to identify gaps, challenges and best practices and to examine Department and bureau roles, responsibilities and governance. The budget proposes Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) funding of $788.9 million. TPA gives tribes the opportunity to establish their own priorities and, accordingly, reallocate funds within this budget category, all of which furthers self-determination.
The Bureau of Indian Education’s budget request is presented separately. Enacting the budget policies into law this year would strengthen Indian Country’s and the nation’s economy and lay the foundation for shared prosperity.