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Obama requests big increase in Bureau of Indian Affairs budget

President Barack Obama shakes hands with a young dancer during his visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014
President Barack Obama shakes hands with a young dancer during his visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama unveiled his fiscal year 2016 budget request today and the Bureau of Indian Affairs was the beneficiary of a big boost in funds.

The budget seeks $2.9 billion for the agency, or $323.5 million above the 2015 level. Programs for Indian education and Indian youth largely contributed to the proposed increase.

“This fiscal year 2016 budget reflects President Obama’s deep personal commitment to improving the lives of Indian people over the long term, focusing especially on Native youth, who represent the future of Indian Country," Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn said in a press release.

As part of Generation Indigenous, a government-wide initiative for American Indian and Alaska Native youth, the Bureau of Indian Education will see $1 billion under the new budget, an increase of more than $93 million from the 2015 level. Included is $58.7 million for construction and repair of Indian schools, an area that has largely been overlooked for the past decade.

"The budget also helps fulfill our nation’s commitments to American Indians and Alaska Natives, including a much-needed and historic investment to help improve education for Indian children," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a press release.

Elsewhere, the budget seeks $227 million for contract support costs, an increase of $26 million from 2015. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that federal agencies must fully fund self-determination contracts, including additional support costs owed to tribes.

The request for tribal priority allocations is $982.7 million, an increase of $56.2 million. The money goes directly to tribal governments for their programs.

Overall, the budget seeks $13.2 billion for the Interior Department. “This is a forward-looking budget that invests in Interior’s key missions so that we can continue to serve the American people,” Jewell said.

FY2016 Budget Documents:
Indian Affairs | Strengthening Tribal Nations and Insular Communities | Fact Sheet | Budget In Brief

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President Obama makes Native youth a priority in administration (12/04)

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