ADDRESS BY ATTORNEY-GENERAL JANET RENO to the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., Meeting
















        17     United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., Meeting

        18                   Arlington, Virginia

        19               Wednesday, February 3, 1998




         1                  P R O C E E D I N G S

         2               ATTORNEY-GENERAL RENO:  Thank you

         3     very much, and thank you for inviting me to be

         4     here today in the spirit of mutual respect and

         5     friendship.

         6               Meeting with you within our framework

         7     of government-to-government relations, I am

         8     reminded that the Indian nations of the South

         9     and East have interacted with the United States

        10     government for over two centuries.

        11               In the East, the framers of our

        12     Constitution visited the leaders of the Six 

        13     Nations Iroquois Confederacy to study the

        14     Great Law of Peace.

        15               In this way, the wisdom of your

        16     elders was made part of our constitutional

        17     system of checks and balances.  It has been

        18     gratifying for me to stand at Harvard Law

        19     School, my alma mater, and be taught about the

        20     Great Law of Peace in other ways, about what we

        21     can do to bring peace amongst our young people.

        22               In the south, the Cherokee Nation

         1     turned to the Supreme Court in the 1830s to

         2     protect tribal treaty rights, and Chief Justice

         3     Marshall announced the first principle of

         4     federal Indian law:  Indian nations are

         5     distinct, self-governing peoples under the

         6     protection of the United States.

         7               The Court also explained that, by

         8     ratifying the earliest Indian treaties, the

         9     Constitution of the United States acknowledges

        10     the sovereign status of Indian nations, and

        11     that our treaties with your nations guarantee

        12     tribal self government.

        13               In a large part of our history, the

        14     United States strayed from these high ideals,

        15     sometimes strayed grievously, but we have now

        16     come full circle, returning to a recognition of

        17     tribal sovereignty as the guiding principle for

        18     the government-to-government relations between

        19     our nations.

        20               I have seen it firsthand on my front

        21     porch as representatives of the Miccosukee Tribe

        22     have talked to my mother, who was then a

         1     reporter, an advocate for just what we seek

         2     today, sovereign-to-sovereign relations based

         3     on mutual respect and regard.  And I have seen

         4     so much happen just in these five years.

         5               Today, I reaffirm the Justice

         6     Department's support for tribal self-government

         7     and for treaty rights, our recognition of the

         8     federal trust responsibility, and our commitment

         9     to assist Indian nations in developing strong

        10     law enforcement systems, tribal courts and

        11     traditional justice systems.

        12               Against this background, I would like

        13     to briefly touch on tribal law enforcement,

        14     children's justice, tribal courts and economic

        15     development in Indian country.

        16               Before Europeans came to this great

        17     land, Indian nations had their own enduring

        18     traditions of justice.  The health of the

        19     community was placed ahead of the individual's

        20     aspirations, and the life of the community was

        21     often viewed as part of an eternal circle.

        22               As Black Elk, the Lakota holy man,

         1     once said:  "The power of nature moves in a

         2     circle.  The sun comes forth and goes down,

         3     again, in a circle.  The seasons form a great

         4     circle in their changing and coming back again

         5     to where they began."

         6               The circle is a symbol of harmony,

         7     the perfect symbol for Indian communities.

         8               Unfortunately, decades of poverty and

         9     dispossession have disrupted the harmony of

        10     Indian communities.  Today, violent crime in

        11     Indian country too often takes a terrible toll

        12     on its people.

        13               While violent crime rates have fallen

        14     nationwide, violent crime rates in Indian

        15     country are rising.  Tribal leaders have

        16     emphasized to us the importance of improving

        17     Indian country law enforcement, and in prior

        18     years, the Justice Department took important

        19     first steps to improve Indian country law

        20     enforcement.

        21               For example, the United States

        22     attorneys with Indian country within their

         1     districts have designated Assistant United

         2     States Attorneys to serve as tribal liaisons

         3     and have made efforts to reduce violent crime a

         4     priority for their district.

         5               The FBI established a new office of

         6     Indian Country Investigations and assigned more

         7     field agents to fight violent crime in Indian

         8     country.

         9               Since 1995, the Community-Oriented

        10     Policing Service has made more than $50 million

        11     in grants to tribal law enforcement agencies to

        12     hire more than 700 full and part-time officers

        13     in Indian communities.

        14               In fiscal year 1997, the Stop

        15     Violence Against Indian Women Program made

        16     $5.8 million in grants to Indian tribes to

        17     prevent domestic violence.

        18               Yet, even with these steps, law

        19     enforcement in Indian country is still

        20     undermanned and underfunded.  There are only

        21     1.3 police officers per thousand citizens in

        22     Indian communities on average, compared with

         1     2.9 officers per thousand citizens in similar

         2     non-Indian communities.

         3               In August of 1997, President Clinton

         4     asked that Secretary Babbitt and I work with

         5     tribal leaders to develop proposals for

         6     improving Indian country law enforcement.  In

         7     response to the President's directive,

         8     US Attorneys, Justice Department staff, and 

         9     Department of Interior personnel held meetings

        10     with tribal leaders around the country.

        11               An Interdepartmental Executive

        12     Committee for Indian Country Law Enforcement

        13     Improvements was formed, and a number of tribal

        14     leaders served as Committee members.

        15               During our joint consultation on law

        16     enforcement improvement, some tribal leaders

        17     advocated a transfer of BIA law enforcement to

        18     the Justice Department.  Others advocated

        19     retaining it in the BIA.  While others,

        20     including the United South and Eastern Indian

        21     Tribes, recommended more study of the issue.

        22               There was, however, clear consensus

         1     among the tribal leaders concerning the

         2     immediate need to increase Indian country law

         3     enforcement resources, police training and

         4     technical assistance.

         5               I am pleased to announce that the

         6     Justice Department, hearing that message, is

         7     seeking $157 million in new and redirected

         8     funds in the Fiscal Year 1999 Budget, which the

         9     President has just announced.

        10               This is a part of a joint

        11     $182 million initiative within the Department

        12     of Interior.  This initiative will fight

        13     violent crime, gang-related violence and

        14     juvenile crime in Indian country and enhance

        15     tribal justice systems.

        16               I appreciate the applause, but let me

        17     tell you what I told Mark.  I said, "First of

        18     all, we've got to get it passed.  We can't say

        19     that it's going to happen until we get the

        20     budget passed."  And we're going to try our

        21     level best.

        22               If Congress grants the overall

         1     Justice Department request, $52 million would

         2     be used to fund grants to construct, modernize

         3     and repair correctional facilities and jails on

         4     Indian lands.

         5               Of course, even with these new funds,

         6     we would not have enough resources to build

         7     separate facilities on every reservation.  So,

         8     I will look to you, as tribal leaders, for

         9     ideas about developing regional facilities for

        10     Indian country, and our first effort must be to

        11     get this appropriation put into law.

        12               But then let us look at if we can do

        13     that, how we use this money wisely.  How we

        14     make sure that there are detention facilities

        15     appropriate for the age, for adults and for

        16     juveniles, that in the juvenile detention

        17     facilities there are appropriate programs and

        18     services available to the child, and that they

        19     still have an opportunity for education or for

        20     a GED.

        21               Let us work together to make sure

        22     that tribal traditions are reflected in these

         1     facilities after we succeed in this

         2     appropriation.

         3               Again, contingent upon congressional

         4     approval of our request, $54 million would fund

         5     more tribal law enforcement officers and law

         6     enforcement training to enhance efforts to

         7     fight violent crime, gang related offenses and

         8     juvenile crime.

         9               Again, if we can get this

        10     appropriation passed, if we can get these

        11     hired, let us work together to make sure that

        12     these police officers are truly community

        13     police officers, in that, they are people who

        14     are sensitive to tribal traditions, that they

        15     serve tribes who have the same traditions and

        16     the same type of approach to law enforcement,

        17     because I am absolutely convinced, watching the

        18     operation of such police officers both in

        19     Indian country and in neighborhoods around this

        20     nation, that when you involve the people you

        21     serve in identifying problems and priorities

        22     and directing solution, we together, police and

         1     law enforcement, working with the community,

         2     working with the tribe, can truly make a

         3     difference.

         4               If Congress grants the overall

         5     Justice Department request, $10 million of the

         6     funds would be used to fund Indian tribal

         7     courts to meet the demands of burgeoning case

         8     loads.  It's not going to help if we get an

         9     appropriation for police officers, if we train

        10     those police officers right, and then we don't

        11     have the courts that can hear the cases.

        12               Another $10 million in requested

        13     funding would be used for drug testing,

        14     treatment and sanctions in Indian country to

        15     fight substance abuse, and we have got to make

        16     sure that we work together to develop

        17     tribally-sensitive programs that can truly,

        18     truly address the issue.

        19               It makes no sense to provide

        20     residential drug treatment for a young offender

        21     who has a drug problem and then send him back

        22     home with no aftercare, no follow-up, no

         1     support mechanism in the community.

         2               How can we provide that?  Often times

         3     it may be the elder to whom that young person

         4     looks up to who can be the mentor, who can be

         5     the guide, who can help them off to a fresh,

         6     new start.

         7               Another $20 million in requested

         8     funds would be dedicated to tribal juvenile

         9     justice initiatives.  As part of our 1999

        10     Budget request, we are also seeking 30 more FBI

        11     agents, 26 assistant US attorneys, and 31

        12     victim-witness coordinators to fight violent

        13     crime in Indian country.

        14               But let us not wait until we just

        15     consider the appropriation.  We're going to

        16     fight very, very hard for that, but we need to

        17     work with you to understand how we address the

        18     problem together of gangs in Indian country.

        19     How do they get started?  What can we do to

        20     prevent it?  What technical expertise or

        21     assistance can we provide to you.

        22               Again, if we look at these problems

         1     from a point of view of what works and what

         2     doesn't work and how we can work together, we

         3     can truly make a difference.

         4               At the same time, the Department of

         5     Interior will also take steps to improve Bureau

         6     of Indian Affairs law enforcement.  BIA law

         7     enforcement will be strengthened by placing BIA

         8     police officers and criminal investigators

         9     under direct supervision of professional BIA

        10     law enforcement personnel and reinforced by

        11     segregating BIA law enforcement functions from

        12     other BIA budget items.

        13               The Department of Interior has also

        14     requested $25 million in increased funding for

        15     law enforcement in the fiscal year 1999.

        16     Reducing violent crime is critical to the peace

        17     and the safety of Indian country, and safe,

        18     stable community life is essential to true

        19     self-determination for Indian nations.

        20               To make these changes effective, we

        21     must all work together in the coming months and

        22     years.  A great Indian leader once said:  "Let

         1     us put our minds together and see what lives we

         2     can make for our children."

         3               Today let us put our minds together

         4     to see what lives we can make for our children

         5     and their families, and how we can build safe

         6     and healthy communities that respect the tribal

         7     tradition of the many wonderful tribes across

         8     this land.  I think we can do it.

         9               Let me turn to children's justice,

        10     with that issue in mind.  From my visits to

        11     Indian communities, I know that Indian peoples

        12     revere their elders, and they treasure their

        13     children.  A traditional Indian saying reminds

        14     us that good acts done for the love of children

        15     become stories good for the ears of the people.

        16               Today, the young people of Indian

        17     country and of America, I think, are great and

        18     wonderful.  I have talked to so many young

        19     people across this nation who want so to be

        20     somebody, to contribute, to make a difference,

        21     and we can help them do that.

        22               I have seen young men and women run a

         1     relay from a pueblo in New Mexico all the way

         2     to Washington to let us know what they needed

         3     to support their elders and to make life better

         4     for their whole community, not just for

         5     themselves.

         6               It will be a moment of my time as

         7     Attorney General which I will never forget as I

         8     met those young people, and heard about their

         9     run and heard why they had come to see the

        10     Attorney General.

        11               We need only to give our youth the

        12     guidance and the opportunity to make a safe,

        13     strong and positive future, and they will do

        14     it.  That is why it is so important to focus on

        15     prevention programs in juvenile justice.

        16               Now, how do we make it work?  Last

        17     week, 16 tribes came to me with a joint

        18     proposal to use tribal traditions to help their

        19     youth develop a strong, positive self-identity,

        20     so that the youth can put their energy to work

        21     to better the community and to stay away from

        22     gang activities.

         1               This is an excellent document.  These

         2     strong traditions reflected in this document

         3     provide the foundation for ensuring that Indian

         4     youth will be given the encouragement and the

         5     tools necessary to succeed as youths and as

         6     tomorrow's leaders.

         7               As we think about juvenile justice, I

         8     would like to hear your ideas about how to

         9     recruit your tribal elders to serve as mentors

        10     for tribal youth, and how you, as tribal

        11     leaders, can use traditional values to keep our

        12     youth on track and away from trouble.

        13               Let me turn now to tribal courts.

        14     Tribal courts, as I've indicated, are central

        15     institutions of tribal self government, because

        16     they are the front-line institutions for

        17     maintaining order and resolving controversies

        18     in Indian communities.  As such, tribal courts

        19     give life to the tribal values and the

        20     traditions embodied in tribal law.

        21               Fulfilling the federal trust

        22     responsibility to Indian nations means not only

         1     improving law enforcement, but also enhancing

         2     tribal courts.  The Justice Department

         3     recognizes the importance of tribal courts to

         4     tribal self government, and we have worked to

         5     promote cooperation between federal, tribal and

         6     state courts by encouraging dialogue between

         7     the court systems.

         8               The Federal Courts of Appeal for the

         9     Eighth, the Ninth and the Tenth Circuits have

        10     developed committees to address tribal court

        11     issues.  We have also sought to provide

        12     innovating training programs for tribal court

        13     personnel.

        14               Last week, the Department sponsored a

        15     joint training for federal and tribal

        16     prosecutors on how to try criminal cases in

        17     Indian country.

        18               Last year, the Justice Department and

        19     the Federal Judicial Center co-sponsored a

        20     joint training session for federal and tribal

        21     court judges on child sexual abuse.

        22               We are also working to make Justice

         1     Department funding programs available to tribal

         2     courts.  For example, in fiscal year 1998, the

         3     drug courts program will award over $1 million to

         4     tribal governments to plan and implement tribal

         5     drug court programs.  The Bureau of Justice

         6     Assistance also awarded planning grants for

         7     intertribal appellate courts.

         8               If we can use these monies for tribal

         9     courts, if we can make them sensitive to tribal

        10     traditions, if we can show what works, and then

        11     help duplicate it in other tribal courts, I

        12     think we can truly make a difference.

        13               As we work to build tribal justice

        14     institutions in Indian country, perhaps you

        15     might consider whether opportunities exist for

        16     your tribes to work together on a statewide or

        17     a regional basis to enhance the effectiveness

        18     of our limited resources.  Intertribal

        19     appellate courts may be one such opportunity,

        20     and you may already be working on others.

        21               As Attorney General, I can tell you

        22     that it is a difficult task to deal with 50

         1     states and over 500 tribes to make sure that we

         2     have a true sovereign-to-sovereign relationship.

         3               You can be of tremendous assistance

         4     by identifying common interests amongst tribes

         5     and developing a coordinated program that will

         6     avoid duplication and will ensure that the

         7     limited dollars we have are spent as wisely as

         8     possible, and yet, that the dollars are spent

         9     in ways reflective of tribal tradition.

        10               We know that more needs to be done to

        11     support tribal courts in institutions of

        12     justice.  So as I stated earlier, the

        13     Department is seeking $10 million in Fiscal

        14     Year 1999 to aid tribal courts, and this is

        15     going to be one of my priorities.

        16               Let's work together so that we can

        17     handle the rapidly expanding dockets, continue

        18     to ensure public health and safety, and protect

        19     the political integrity of tribal governments.

        20               As tribal leaders, you have the

        21     ultimate responsibility for determining the

        22     best avenue for building tribal courts as

         1     strong, independent institutions of justice,

         2     and you must be the first to cherish and

         3     support tribal courts so that tribal justice

         4     systems may realize their promise as 

         5     guardians of community justice and

         6     tribal values.

         7               Let me say a few words about tribal

         8     economic development.  This past Sunday

         9     morning, I went out to the Florida everglades,

        10     passed some sleeping villages.  At dawn, I

        11     watched the sun come up over the glades.  It

        12     was restoring.

        13               I came back to Washington thinking,

        14     oh, I can come right back at this again.  And I

        15     thought of people whose home it was, and I

        16     thought of the vast lands of the west, of areas

        17     that I have only gotten to know in my adult

        18     life in main, of so many different places

        19     across this country that mean so much to

        20     particular tribes.

        21               How do we enable a tribe to have

        22     economic self-sufficiency, while still

         1     retaining the lands that they love although they 

         2     may sometimes be in more isolation than others?

         3     How do we develop economic opportunity in

         4     that context?

         5               With modern computers, with

         6     technology that we never dreamed of, I think we

         7     have some real possibilities.  Tribal

         8     economies, historically, were in balance with

         9     nature.  They provided for community members

        10     opportunity without injuring the environment.

        11     We have a chance, perhaps, to do that again.

        12               Before the first Thanksgiving, tribal

        13     elders had taught the colonists how to plant

        14     corn and how to survive in our great land, yet

        15     throughout the nineteenth century, as waves of

        16     immigrants moved westward, tribal lands and

        17     economies were displaced, as I saw in the

        18     history of the everglades as it moved further

        19     and further west, as people cut canals through

        20     the glades to drain and to change the character

        21     of the land, to change the food supply of the

        22     land, to change the very land itself.

         1               As reservations were diminished, 

         2     Chief Crazy Horse said, "We preferred our own 

         3     way of living.  We were no expense to the

         4     government.  All we wanted was peace and to be

         5     left alone."

         6               In treaties, the United States pledged 

         7     to secure reservations as "permanent homes" for

         8     Indian peoples.  Yet, in less than 50 years from

         9     the passage of the General Allotment Act in 1887 

        10     to the passage of the Indian Reorganization Act 

        11     in 1934, Indian tribes lost almost 100 million

        12     acres of their remaining homelands.  Congress has

        13     recognized the failure of past policies.

        14               In the Indian Finance Act of 1974,

        15     Congress declared the policy of the United

        16     States to provide capital to help develop and

        17     utilize Indian labor and resources to a point

        18     where Indian communities enjoy a standard of 

        19     living from their own productive efforts comparable 

        20     to that of neighboring non-Indian communities.

        21               Under this Act, a few Indian tribes

        22     have made important progress in developing

         1     light manufacturing and other enterprises.  More

         2     recently, Indian tribes embarked on gaming as a

         3     means of economic development, and Congress

         4     enacted the Indian Regulatory Act to promote

         5     economic development, self-sufficiency and

         6     strong tribal governments. 

         7               Indian tribes use the governmental

         8     revenue derived from gaming for purposes such

         9     as roads and water systems, hospitals, schools

        10     and law enforcement.

        11               With Indian gaming, also, only a

        12     small number of the more than 500 tribes in our

        13     nation have achieved financial security.  Some

        14     of those tribes wisely seek to diversify their

        15     tribal economies with revenues derived from

        16     gaming, and a few gaming tribes are reaching

        17     out to non-gaming tribes to help build a 

        18     strong economy and job opportunity throughout  

        19     Indian country.

        20               Yet many American Indians and Alaska

        21     natives continue still to be among the poorest

        22     people in the nation.  This is inexcusable.

         1               On some of the larger reservations,

         2     BIA labor statistics indicate that unemployment

         3     rates exceed 50 percent of the Indian labor

         4     force.  In 1996, it's reported that 43 percent

         5     of American Indian and American Alaska native

         6     children under 5 years old live in poverty.

         7     The statistics demonstrate that we must all

         8     work together to create economic opportunity

         9     throughout Indian country that does not destroy

        10     the land, the air, the water and the spirit of

        11     Indian country.

        12               Last summer, the Office of the

        13     Controller of the Currency, and the Office of

        14     Tribal Justice of the Department of Justice

        15     sponsored a conference on banking in Indian

        16     country.  The Justice Department is presently

        17     considering a two-day summit on doing business

        18     in Indian country together with our sister

        19     agencies.

        20               We think it is important for tribal

        21     leaders, industry leaders and agency officials

        22     to discuss the unique features of doing

         1     business in Indian country, how to build a

         2     positive environment for business development

         3     and how to use advancing technologies to

         4     overcome problems of distance to the

         5     marketplace.

         6               One of the points that is vital to

         7     remember as we promote tribal economic

         8     development is that the employment demographics

         9     of this nation are changing rapidly.

        10               Prior to World War II, 70 percent of

        11     the jobs in this country were unskilled.  Now,

        12     I think, probably less than 17 percent are

        13     unskilled.  Today, workers need high-tech

        14     modern skills, and we have to prepare our

        15     children for the marvels of technology in the

        16     21st Century.

        17               Telecommuting may be one of the main

        18     avenues for economic development as we approach

        19     the next century.  In addition, there are

        20     important federal employment tax credits for

        21     Indian country on the book that may be

        22     under-utilized.  We must get the word out to

         1     industry.

         2               The Small Business Administration

         3     wants to announce the new HUB zone program that

         4     will take effect in June of 1998.  At the same

         5     time, it will be important to educate others

         6     about successful examples of tribal economic

         7     development.

         8               I'm interested in hearing your ideas

         9     for promoting a continuing dialogue between

        10     tribal leaders and industry leaders and

        11     continuing inter-agency cooperation.

        12               Perhaps it is time to form a broadly-

        13     inclusive American Indian Chamber of Commerce,

        14     so that tribal leaders and industry leaders may

        15     come together regularly to promote business,

        16     business that is consistent with tribal

        17     tradition in Indian country.  And so that tribal

        18     leaders from successful tribes can assist in

        19     providing the "spark" that is needed for less

        20     advantaged neighboring tribes to enjoy the

        21     benefits of economic development.

        22               Finally, let me say this.  I

         1     know you, as tribal leaders, face many

         2     challenges.  Last year, Secretary Babbitt and I

         3     opposed federal income taxation of tribal

         4     government revenues because you need those

         5     revenues to build schools, to build hospitals

         6     and roads, and because such taxation would run

         7     counter to our treaty pledges to protect tribal

         8     self-government.

         9               We also opposed legislative proposals

        10     to waive tribal sovereign immunity that would

        11     have undercut your tribal government functions

        12     and threatened tribal treasuries.

        13               You may face similar challenges this

        14     year.  Please stay in touch with my staff at

        15     the Office of Tribal Justice as issues of

        16     concern develop.  We want to work with you on

        17     these issues.

        18               In closing, I would remind all

        19     Americans that our nation is a great land where

        20     we cherish liberty, justice and freedom for all

        21     of our people.

        22               For American Indians, liberty means

         1     tribal sovereignty and self-government.

         2     Justice means respect for tribal treaty rights.

         3     Freedom means that Indian peoples may live

         4     according to their own ways on their own land.

         5                Thank you very much.

         6                    (Whereupon, at approximately

         7                    3:30 p.m., the PROCEEDINGS were

         8                    adjourned.)

         9                      *  *  *  *  *