WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Biden-Harris Administration has submitted to Congress the President’s budget for fiscal year 2023. The President’s budget details his vision to deliver the agenda he laid out in his State of the Union address.
The request for Indian Affairs programs is $4.5 billion, an increase of $1 billion over the FY 2022 Continuing Resolution level. This includes $2.8 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, $1.6 billion for the Bureau of Indian Education, and $112.7 million for the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration.
“President Biden has proposed an important blueprint for our country’s future that reflects the importance of science, equity and collaboration in carrying out Interior’s important missions,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “These resources, coupled with the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help the department make critical investments in climate resiliency while creating good-paying union jobs in the clean energy economy, ensuring tribal communities have the resources and support they need, and conserving and protecting wildlife and their habitats for future generations. Together, we can ensure that every community has a stake in our efforts to build a better America.”
“In my tenure leading Indian Affairs, I have heard from tribal leaders across Indian Country about the need for further investment in public safety in their communities,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “The President’s budget demonstrates his commitment to working with tribal leaders to make their communities safer by increasing numbers of law enforcement officers, repairing detention facilities, preventing crime through community wellness strategies, and supporting victims. In addition, this budget also reflects the President’s commitment to land consolidation, which will simplify tribes’ ability to exercise jurisdiction over their lands.”
The President’s budget supports an all-of-government approach to addressing federal responsibilities and tribal needs in Indian Country. Indian Affairs plays an important role in carrying out the federal trust responsibility by providing services to 574 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in Alaska and the contiguous 48 states.
The President’s Budget for Interior’s Indian Affairs programs will:
- Protect public safety and justice: The 2023 budget includes $562.1 million for Public Safety and Justice operations. Operational funding supports the expanding Tribal needs in policing, detention, and Tribal courts resulting from the McGirt v. Oklahoma Supreme Court decision and builds tribal law enforcement, corrections, and courts operations and construction capacity nationwide. The budget also includes $16.5 million to support the Missing and Murdered Unit in BIA’s Office of Justice Services and $10 million to support a Department-wide initiative to equip all Interior-funded law enforcement officers with body-worn cameras. As part of a proposed expansion to the Tiwahe initiative, the budget includes $8 million for the Office of Tribal Justice Support to provide technical assistance to tribes looking to develop and operate Healing to Wellness courts. These courts serve as alternatives to incarceration and provide a culturally appropriate forum to assist clients in addressing underlying behavioral health and substance abuse issues.
- Support Indian land consolidation: The 2023 budget includes $80 million to reestablish a modified Indian Land Consolidation Program focusing support on tribes’ plans for and adaptation to climate change. This funding recognizes the ongoing need to continue to address fractionation on Indian lands as the Land Buy-Back Program, established as part of the Cobell Settlement, ends. The program will incorporate lessons learned from the Land Buy-Back Program and the previous Indian Land Consolidation program. Indian Land Consolidation Program funding will be used to purchase fractional interests from willing individual Indian landowners and convey those interests to the tribe with jurisdiction.
- Support self-determination: The President’s budget reflects the Administration’s support for the principles of tribal self-determination and strengthening tribal communities across Indian Country by proposing to reclassify Contract Support Costs and ISDEAA Section 105(l) leases as current mandatory spending in 2023. This reclassification will provide tribes with certainty in meeting these ongoing needs through dedicated funding sources.
- 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 contracts and self-governance compacts. The budget proposes $394 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. This request includes $23 million for the Small Tribes Supplement Program to assist eligible tribes expand and sustain their tribal governance.
- Support sustainable stewardship of trust resources: The budget includes $406.6 million for critical trust natural resources activities. This includes $61 million for the Tribal Climate Resilience program. In 2023, the Tribal Climate Adaptation Grant program is funded at $33 million to better assess and meet tribal climate adaptation needs. The Tribal Climate Resilience program also includes $21 million for a Climate Relocation Grant program and $7 million for the Tribal Civilian Climate Corps, an important jobs initiative to tackle climate change on the ground, ensure a living wage, and provide skills and a pathway to employment. Funds will also support tribes in developing science, tools, training, planning, and implementation of actions to build resilience into resource management, infrastructure, and community development activities.
- Support Indian families: As part of the President’s efforts to strengthen tribal communities, the budget includes $202.2 million in Human Services funding. This amount includes $80.1 million for social services. The funding will allow for expanded implementation of the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act. The Act seeks to bolster child protection and ensure better coordination between child welfare and domestic violence programs in Indian Country. The budget includes $31.7 million to expand the Tiwahe initiative to protect and promote the development of prosperous and resilient tribal communities through several Human Services programs.
- Support economic opportunities: The 2023 budget funds the Community and Economic Development activity at $72.3 million. Job placement and training is funded at $23.8 million and includes $10 million for job training programs focusing on clean energy development. The Economic Development program is funded at $39.4 million and includes an investment of $24 million in Native language revitalization; and $5 million to establish an economic development component of the Tiwahe Initiative which will provide funding directly to tribal governments to develop and operate comprehensive and integrated economic and community development programs.
- Support tribal priorities: Tribal Priority Allocations give tribes the opportunity to further Indian self-determination by establishing their own priorities and reallocating Federal funds among programs in this budget category. The 2023 budget proposes Tribal Priority Allocation funding totaling $975.6 million, $902.8 million in the Bureau of Indian Affairs budget and $72.8 million in the Bureau of Indian Education budget.
- Support the Boarding School Initiative: The 2023 budget includes $7 million for the Secretary’s Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative and its comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of Federal boarding school policies. This funding will complete the historical research and documentation and begin the work to identify and protect the remains of those identified. Overall, the Initiative seeks to work with tribal nations to begin the long healing process through transparency and accountability.
- Support elementary and secondary education programs: The request includes $891.5 million for operating the entire Bureau of Indian Education elementary and secondary school system – 169 elementary and secondary schools and 14 dormitories – providing educational services to approximately 45,000 individual students in 23 States. Funds support the basic and supplemental education programs at BIE-funded schools, student transportation, facility operations, and maintenance. The 2023 request includes targeted funding to improve Indian student academic outcomes, address maintenance needs, support expanded preschool and Native language programs, and provide pay parity for tribal teachers while fully funding projected Tribal Grant Support Costs.
- Support postsecondary education programs: The 2023 budget continues recognition of the critical role tribal postsecondary institutions have in empowering Indian students and tribal communities. These institutions are on or near reservations; they directly serve tribal communities with culturally relevant education and career pathways in a supportive environment. Postsecondary education of tribal members remains an essential component in the economic development of many tribes. The request includes $185.2 million for postsecondary programs, including $30.3 million for the BIE-operated Haskell Indian Nations University and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute, $86.5 million for grants to 29 tribal colleges and universities and $13.7 million for grants for two tribal technical colleges.
- Support the execution of the Federal trust responsibilities to American Indian tribes, individuals, and communities: The Bureau of Trust Funds Administration is responsible for the financial management of $6.16 billion of Indian trust funds held in approximately 3,900 tribal accounts and about 404,000 Individual Indian Money accounts. Trust funds include payments from judgment awards, settlements of claims, land use agreements, royalties on natural resource use, other proceeds derived directly from trust resources, and financial investment income. The 2023 budget includes $111.2 million for trust and program operations, of which $24.1 million is for field operations. Field operations staff serve as the primary point of contact for trust beneficiaries – tribes, individual Indians, and Alaska Natives – seeking information and services in conjunction with their trust assets.