Reasons Tribal members need to vote on January 16th
By Rob Sanderson, Jr.
January 14, 2006
Historically, many tribes suffered severely from policies designed to discourage tribal membership or affiliation, native languages, Indian religion, and tribal traditions. Below are some of the reasons I have identified that are critical to this tribe and your right to vote.
Increased funding. Many federal grants available to Tribes depend upon census and other population statistics identifying numbers of tribal members. The larger a tribe's citizenship, the greater potential it has for obtaining increased funding for services.
Civic duty. As a descendent of Alaska Natives, it is our civic duty to become involved in our tribe's activities, government, services, and traditions. Individuals maintain tribal identity, shape their future and strengthen tribal sovereignty.
Indian law protections. As a tribal member, you will gain the protection of federal and state "Indian laws" which only apply to Native Americans. For example the federal Indian Child Welfare Act grants parents of Indian child additional protections such as court appointed attorneys, notice to your Tribe of potential removal of child welfare cases to tribal court, and requires efforts to reunify Indian families and extended families. To be entitled to most "Indian law" protections, you must first be a tribal member.
Educational opportunities. The federal government and individual Tribes have identified Indian education as a priority for sustaining tribal governments. Scholarships for higher education, vocational training and graduate school are available to tribal members through the KIC Higher Education program and the Employment & Training programs. In primary grades and high school the Johnson O'Malley program provides tutoring, school supplies and special activities for KIC children.
Housing. KIC Housing Authority provides housing to low income families. KIC housing program also provides assistance with emergency repair, transitional housing and other housing issues.
Indian Health Services Tribal members are entitled to free or low cost health care at most IHS facilities.
Minority business opportunities. Many federal, state and tribal contracts include a preference for minority business including those owned by American Indians.
Cultural Identity. Probably the most important reason to become a member of your Tribe is the personal sense of cultural identity you will enjoy. The pride you will take in your Tribe's social, political, and historical accomplishments will reward you many times over.
In closing, KIC needs to be prepared to act in opposition to regionalization. Your input is critical. KIC must have a plan in place to make sure our dollars do not go elsewhere. Make your vote count.
Rob Sanderson, Jr.
About: Rob Sanderson, Jr. is a 4 year Ketchikan Indian Community Tribal Council member. He is also a 6 year delegate to Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska including 2 years Past President of the local T&H Chapter representing Ketchikan.
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