Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs
Democratic Members of the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs
Raul Ruiz, ranking member (Calif.)
Madeleine Bordallo (Guam)
Gregorio Sablan (CNMI)
Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico)
Norma Torres (Calif.)
As the lone subcommittee with exclusive jurisdiction over Indian and Alaska Native issues in the House of Representatives, the Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs oversees matters ranging from natural resources and land management, ownership, and leasing to Indian healthcare, tribal criminal justice, development of reservation economies, and enhancement of social welfare and improvement of energy efficiency and renewable energy development initiatives on tribal lands. With the Subcommittee's broad jurisdiction, Democrats are dedicated to protecting tribal sovereign authority over lands and natural resources and to empowering tribal governments with enhanced self-governance authorities while honoring the federal trust relationship between the United States and Native nations and peoples.
The Subcommittee has specific jurisdiction over the following federal agencies:
Bureau of Indian Affairs: founded in 1824, originally under the War Department; manages relations with the 565 federally recognized American Indian Tribes and 55 million surface acres as well as 57 million acres of subsurface mineral reserves held in trust by the United States for Native American tribes.
Department of the Interior: founded in 1849 by President Zachary Taylor; manages the land, water, and mineral resources of the United States as well as oversees American Indian affairs.
Specific Topics Include:
American Samoa became a U.S. territory by deed of cession, starting in 1900. The matai (local chiefs) of Tutuila, the largest island in American Samoa, ceded the island to the United States in 1900. Manu'a followed in 1904. Swain Island joined the territory in 1925 by an act of the Congress. Current American Samoa issues include:
· Diversify its Tuna canning based economy
· Adapting to U.S. minimum wage rate.
Guam became a U.S. territory in 1898 and was placed under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy. The Guam Organic Act of 1950 conferred U.S. citizenship on Guamanians and established the territory's government. The Act also transferred Federal jurisdiction over Guam from the U.S. Navy to the Department of the Interior. First elections were held in 1970. Current Guam issues include:
· The relocation of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force from Okinawa to Guam
· Guam World War II Loyalty Recognition Act (H.R. 44 - to recognize the suffering and the loyalty of the people of Guam during the Japanese occupation of Guam in World War II.
· Expansion of the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver Program
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) emerged from the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands (TTPI) which the United States administered on behalf of the United Nations from 1947 until Palau, the last member of the TTPI to choose its own political future, became an independent country 1994. The federal law (the Covenant) making the CNMI a U.S. territory passed in 1975. The CNMI adopted its constitution in 1977, and its first constitutional government took office in 1978. The CNMI came under federal minimum wage regulations in 2007 and immigration law in 2008. In June 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security took over the CNMI's immigration and border controls. Major CNMI issues include:
· Transition from CNMI to U.S. Immigration and border control; and
· Economic Development
US Virgin Islands
The United States purchased the Virgin Islands from Denmark in 1917 for $25 million, mainly for strategic reasons to assure tranquility in the Caribbean Ocean. U.S. citizenship was conferred on U.S. Virgin Islanders in 1927. The Organic Act of 1936 laid the foundation for self-government and a more elaborate governmental structure emerged from the revised Organic Act of 1954. The first elections for constitutional officers were held in 1970. USVI issues include:
· Economic and Political Development
Puerto Rico, a U.S. possession since 1898, became a commonwealth in 1952. Since then, Puerto Ricans have been considering three significantly different political status options --statehood, enhanced commonwealth, and independence -- as an alternative to the present relationship with the United States.
Freely Associated States under the Compact of Free Association