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 1                UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE 
 2                               - - - 
 3               REMARKS OF THE HONORABLE JANET RENO, 
 4               ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES 
 5                              TO THE 
 6               NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS 
 7                               - - - 
 8 
 9                                 Independence Room A 
10                                 Grand Hyatt Hotel 
11                                 1000 H Street, N.W. 
12                                 Washington, D.C. 
13                                 Thursday, February 26, 1998 
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 1                       P R O C E E D I N G S 
 2                                                  (6:48 p.m.) 
 3              VOICE:  Could I have your attention.  Could I 
 4    get you folks to grab a seat.  A very special guest has 
 5    joined us.  Good evening.  Hello, and thank you one and 
 6    all for coming to the NCI reception. 
 7              As I reported to you in our General Assembly, 
 8    Attorney General Janet Reno said that she would be able to 
 9    come and visit with us and share some time with us this 
10    evening in her schedule.  So she has come and she has just 
11    arrived.  So it is a great pleasure to introduce Attorney 
12    General Janet Reno, who has done such wonderful things for 
13    Indian country. 
14              Quiet down, folks.  Quiet down.  Could I have 
15    your attention?  Thank you, thank you. 
16              Ever since this administration took office the 
17    last term, one of the first things that they did was to 
18    begin with the Listening Conference that included the 
19    Department of the Interior, the Department of Justice, and 
20    a number of other departments and agencies.  One of the 
21    participants back then was Janet Reno, Attorney General 
22    for Department of Justice.  She spent that whole time with 
23    us, conversing with tribal leaders, trying to understand 
24    what the issues are in our communities with regard to law 
25    enforcement and courts and the issues of our concern in 
 
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 1    protecting our sovereignty and tribal rights. 
 2              It has really been wonderful to have an Attorney 
 3    General that has become so knowledgeable about Indian 
 4    affairs, Indian law, and the concerns and the needs of our 
 5    communities.  As many of you are aware, she's the one who 
 6    led the effort here to elevate the resources -- 
 7              GENERAL RENO:  --  The United States has 
 8    recognized Indian tribes as domestic nations under its 
 9    protection and guaranteed tribal self-government in 
10    numerous treaties and agreements.  Today, within the 
11    framework of our government to government relations, the 
12    United States continues to honor and to recognize the 
13    right of Indian people to self-government.  -- self- 
14    government for Indian tribes, recognizes our Federal trust 
15    responsibilities and traditional systems. 
16              Let me briefly discuss with you the important 
17    subject of law and order in Indian country.   
18              That's the request, but we're going to fight 
19    hard to see that that request is appropriated.  And if 
20    appropriated, these requested funds will be used to fight 
21    violent crime, gang-related violence, and juvenile crime 
22    in Indian country, and enhance tribal justice systems. 
23              I think it's important, as I explained 
24    yesterday, or the day before yesterday, before the Senate 
25    Appropriations Subcommittee, it is important to understand 
 
                                                               4 
 1    that it is not just gangs from within Indian country; it 
 2    is gangs that have come, young people that have come from 
 3    without to cause trouble.  And we have got to be prepared. 
 4              Of course, I cannot emphasize enough that our 
 5    first job is to get Congressional approval for this 
 6    request.  If Congress grants our budget request, money 
 7    will be used to fund grants to construct, modernize, and 
 8    repair correctional facilities and jails on Indian lands.  
 9              Yet even with these new funds, we would not have 
10    enough resources to build separate facilities on every 
11    reservation.  So I will look to tribal leaders for ideas 
12    for making the best use of these funds, including regional 
13    detention facilities for Indian country.  And I will look 
14    to tribal leaders to help make sure that we use these 
15    funds as wisely as possible. 
16              If our request is granted, we must use the money 
17    to ensure that there are detention facilities that are 
18    appropriate for adults and for juveniles and to ensure 
19    that juvenile facilities have appropriate services and 
20    programs for the education and the welfare of the young 
21    people.  It doesn't make any sense to put a young person 
22    in a jail, in a detention facility, and not provide for 
23    education that will help them to deal with the issues 
24    afterwards. 
25              (Applause.) 
 
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 1              And provided that we secure the funding, let us 
 2    work together to make sure that tribal traditions are 
 3    reflected in the detention facilities.  One of the most 
 4    moving moments for me in these almost five years that I 
 5    have been Attorney General was to go to my law school, 
 6    Harvard Law School, to a Listening Conference at the law 
 7    school and to hear tribes tell me, "Look, you just want to 
 8    find guilt or innocence; you just want to blame somebody; 
 9    we want to heal, we want to find the problem and solve the 
10    problem that caused the crime in the first place; we want 
11    to bring people together and heal the wounds." 
12              And we can learn so much from those traditions, 
13    and those traditions have got to be a part of the 
14    correctional programs and facilities that we help to fund. 
15              Contingent upon Congressional approval of our 
16    request, $54 million of the amount would fund more tribal 
17    police officers and law enforcement training, to enhance 
18    efforts to fight violent crime, gang-related offenses, and 
19    juvenile crime. 
20              $10 million would be used to fund Indian tribal 
21    courts to meet burgeoning caseloads.  $10 million would be 
22    used for drug testing, treatment, and sanctions in Indian 
23    country to fight substance abuse. 
24              It's eight years ago now that we established a 
25    drug court in Dade County, Florida, where I served as a 
 
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 1    prosecutor.  I wanted something that gave people an 
 2    alternative as they came into the court system and into 
 3    the judicial system with a drug problem, and we developed 
 4    a carrot and stick approach:  Work with us and we'll help 
 5    you with training, with education, with job placement; 
 6    don't work with us, come back testing positive for drugs, 
 7    and you're going to face a more certain sanction each step 
 8    of the way. 
 9              But what if we listened to tribal traditions.  
10    Can you give us further insight?  Can we help design 
11    programs for you?  Can we listen to you to find out how 
12    best to set up and establish programs that provide for 
13    testing, for treatment, for intervention, and for making 
14    our young people whole again? 
15              $20 million of the requested funds would be 
16    dedicated to tribal juvenile justice initiatives.  Again, 
17    you know far better than I do how to reach out to the 
18    young people of a particular tribe, how to prevent crime, 
19    how to give them wonderful opportunities.  Let us work 
20    together to do that.  
21              As part of our fiscal year '99 budget request, 
22    we are also seeking 30 more FBI agents, 26 assistant 
23    United States attorneys, and 31 victim witness 
24    coordinators to assist in this effort. 
25              At the same time, the Department of Interior 
 
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 1    will also take steps to improve BIA law enforcement. 
 2              Reducing violent crime is critical to the safety 
 3    of Indian country and the safe and stable community life 
 4    that is essential to true self-determination for Indian 
 5    nations.  A great leader once said, "Let us put our minds 
 6    together and see what lives we can make for our children."  
 7    And I ask you tonight and in these weeks to come:  Let us 
 8    put our minds together, see what we can get Congress to 
 9    pass, and then see truly what life we can make for our 
10    children. 
11              Let me say a few words in that regard about 
12    economic development in Indian country.  A few tribes have 
13    made important gains through Indian gaming and some tribes 
14    have made gains through industrial or agricultural 
15    development.  Yet most American Indians and Alaska Natives 
16    are among the poorest people of our Nation. 
17              The 1990 census reported that 42 percent of 
18    American Indian and Alaska Native children under five 
19    years old live in poverty.  They may live in a poverty of 
20    dollars, but they don't need to live in a poverty of 
21    spirit and tradition and the environment of tribal 
22    traditions.  We must work together to give them that 
23    opportunity. 
24              Last summer the Office of the Comptroller of the 
25    Currency and the Department of Justice co-sponsored a 
 
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 1    conference on banking in Indian country.  This year, in 
 2    cooperation with USDA, Commerce, Interior, and the Small 
 3    Business Administration, we are planning a conference on 
 4    doing business in Indian country. 
 5              It is important for tribal leaders, industry 
 6    leaders, and agency officials to discuss unique features 
 7    of doing business, how to build a positive environment for 
 8    business, and how to use new technologies to overcome the 
 9    problems of distance to the marketplace. 
10              I am interested in your ideas about how to 
11    promote dialogue and cooperation between tribes and 
12    industry in this area of mutual concern, because if we 
13    give the child an opportunity for a life that he or she 
14    can treasure, what good is it going to be if we can't find 
15    that child a job, a job that will enable them to maintain 
16    their tribal traditions and live on their tribal lands and 
17    appreciate the air and the sky and the waters that their 
18    ancestors knew and loved, but at the same time having an 
19    opportunity to participate in the economy of this Nation. 
20              I think it can be done.  One of the things that 
21    I've discovered is that young people know an awful lot 
22    about computers, a lot that I don't know, and that you can 
23    do an awful lot in distance, and I think their ancestors 
24    would be extraordinarily proud of young Indians across 
25    this land who took the new technologies to maintain their 
 
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 1    presence on their tribal lands while at the same time 
 2    participating around the world in the economies that are 
 3    opening up because of the marvels of computers. 
 4              That is just one example.  There is so much that 
 5    we can do if we come together to see how we can work 
 6    together to give our children a future. 
 7              Finally, I know that you also face challenges on 
 8    issues of federal and tribal government relations.  Last 
 9    year Secretary Babbitt and I opposed federal income 
10    taxation of tribal government revenues because you need 
11    your tribal government revenues to build schools, 
12    hospitals, roads, and because such taxation would run 
13    counter to our treaty pledges to protect tribal self- 
14    government. 
15              We also opposed legislative proposals to waive 
16    tribal sovereign immunity, that would have undercut your 
17    tribal government functions and threatened tribal 
18    treasuries. 
19              (Applause.) 
20              You may face similar challenges this year.  
21    Please stay in touch with my Office of Tribal Justice as 
22    issues of concern develop.  And I'd like to thank 
23    everybody in that office -- Tom, Mark, Craig, who have made 
24    such a difference. 
25              At the Listening Conference in Albuquerque they 
 
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 1    told me:  Nobody is in the -- we don't know where to go in 
 2    the Justice Department to be heard, to be heard in the 
 3    Solicitor General's Office, to be heard in ENRD, to be 
 4    heard in the Criminal Division.  It's a big Department and 
 5    we don't know where to go. 
 6              I haven't heard anybody tell me that in a long 
 7    time, Tom, and I thank you very much for all the work that 
 8    you and your colleagues have done. 
 9              In conclusion, I would remind all Americans that 
10    our Nation is a great land, a land where we all cherish 
11    liberty, freedom, and justice for all of our people.  To 
12    American Indians, liberty, freedom, and justice mean the 
13    right to continue to live according to tribal laws, to 
14    tribal customs, and to tribal traditions in their own 
15    lands.  I want to work with you to make sure that you have 
16    the liberty that you cherish. 
17              Thank you. 
18              (Applause.)  
19              VOICE:  I want to express my appreciation for 
20    the Attorney General.  She probably has about 15, 20 
21    minutes to mingle among us and converse with the tribal 
22    delegation. 
23              I want to thank David Ogden, her counselor, who 
24    is here with her, and Tom LeClaire and Mark Van Norman and 
25    Craig Alexander, who have been staffing that office, that 
 
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 1    cares for Indian affairs. 
 2              With that, I think we'll close the opening 
 3    comments and let the Attorney General mingle among the 
 4    tribal leadership. 
 5              (At 7:04 p.m., end of remarks.)