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Mary Annette Pember
Indian Country Today 

President Donald Trump released his policy vision for Native Americans on Wednesday via the White House Twitter account.

In the three-page “Putting America’s First People’s First: Forgotten No More!” document, Trump champions developing free enterprise, encouraging business development, reducing regulations on developing natural resources and energy, as well as empowering tribes to manage their own lands through self-governance programs.

The core principles of Trump’s plan are listed as:

  • Respecting tribal sovereignty and self-determination
  • Promoting safe communities
  • Building a thriving economy with improved infrastructure
  • Honoring Native American heritage and improving education and delivering health care.

Trump paints his vision in broad strokes with little detail about funding his plans, creating and developing ongoing tribal consultation or ways that his administration would address meeting existing federal treaty and trust obligations.

A Trump media adviser did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.

The plan does, however, promise to create 51,000 Native American-owned businesses and 196,000 jobs for tribal communities, invest $10 million to support creation of new tribally operated charter schools, double federal support for developing tribal education agencies, increase funding for language and cultural programming by 25 percent, prioritize enforcement of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act, improve delivery of and coordination throughout the Indian Health Service, invest in mental and behavioral health, support funding for better water infrastructure in tribal communities, continued work of Operation Lady Justice and the president’s task force on missing and murdered Indigenous women, and continued investment in opioids and drug treatment.

(Related: Donald Trump Jr. launches 'Natives for Trump')

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Trump also promised to host a national tribal leader meeting and establish a national week of consultation. 

Trump’s deputy national press secretary Courtney Parella previously told Indian Country Today that the president is a strong supporter of the Native American community. Parella noted that Trump provided $8 billion in coronavirus aid for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Both parties have touted the relief money, which was whittled down in negotiations and delayed by lawsuits. 

President Donald J. Trump participates in a roundtable discussion on supporting Native Americans Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at Honeywell International Inc. in Phoenix. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, and Cindy McCain visit at Heard Museum in Phoenix, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris released their plan for Native Americans, “Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations,” on Oct. 8 prior to a meeting with tribal leaders in Arizona. In the 15-page document, Biden and Harris begin by committing their administration to upholding the U.S.’s trust responsibility to tribal nations.

Notably, they promise to ensure fulfillment of federal trust and treaty obligations, address chronic underfunding of unmet federal obligations and call for making funding to the Indian Health Service mandatory rather than discretionary as it is now.

(Related: Joe Biden, Kamala Harris meet with tribal leaders in Phoenix)  

The Biden-Harris plan offers specifics on reducing suicide through collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control, increasing health data collection, expanding access to mental health and substance abuse disorder through the Affordable Care Act and addressing the epidemic of violence against Native women by strengthening the Tribal Law and Order Act, finding solutions to address the Supreme Court’s decision in Oliphant v. Suquamish that has prevented tribes from prosecuting non-Native offenders and reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

It also promises to reinstate the annual White House Tribal Relations Conference.

Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Ojibwe tribe, is a national correspondent for Indian Country Today.

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