National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby delivered the annual State of Indian Nations address in Washington, D.C., calling on the federal government to enact legislation to support tribes as they seek to encourage economic growth as well as secure their land base, combat climate change and ensure public safety. President Cladoosby, who is Chairman of the Swinomish Nation, cited four priority issues for tribes: community security; economic equality; education, health and wellness; and climate change.

“We need to modernize the trust relationship,” President Cladoosby said. “We need to replace antiquated laws and regulations with policies that trust and empower tribes to govern. We need a relationship based not on paternalism and control, but on deference and support.”

Regarding economic development, President Cladoosby called for tribes to have the ability to issue tax-exempt bonds and to receive the same treatment as state and local governments on labor issues. He also urged the U.S. Department of the Interior to eliminate dual taxation in Indian Country and empower tribes to invest in infrastructure in order to further economic development, saying tribes are “light years behind our neighboring communities” in terms of infrastructure.