Partner Jonodev Chaudhuri, in his role as Ambassador of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, testified before the House Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States at the Hearing: "Reviewing the Broken Promises Report: Examining the Chronic Federal Funding Shortfalls in Indian Country."
Below is an excerpt from his testimony:
Two hundred years ago, the sovereignty of the newborn United States was inextricably interwoven with that of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Today is no different.
We wholeheartedly support the Commission’s call for Congress to fully fund existing Indian country programs that aim to rectify the United States’ broken promises. Funding, however, is just one part of the problem.
As the Report’s recommendation on data collection wisely acknowledges, accurate data on Native Americans are necessary for federal, state, local, and tribal governments to monitor conditions and make informed policy and spending decisions. If we are truly going to have an honest dialogue about rectifying the systemic, continuing, and purposeful violation of the promises in the treaties signed between Tribal Nations and the United States, we need to invest in a significant effort to collect and analyze all relevant information on the impacts these broken promises have directly had on issues such as homelessness, psychological trauma, domestic violence, MMIW, suicide, and other critical socio-economic issues in Indian Country today.
We also need to be prepared to confront the policy implications that could result from this national soul-searching. The promises that were broken involve the taking of lands, the destruction of sacred sites, the loss of our languages, and the desecration of our trust. Not everything can be restored through funding, and Congress, as well as all citizens of the United States – Native and non-Native alike – must have the courage to tread where this path may lead us. To be sure, after a full analysis of the costs due to tribal nations, full repayment for all that has been lost due to America’s broken promises may prove elusive. At a minimum, however, Congress needs to start the conversation.
As former United States Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black wrote, “Some things are worth more than money and the costs of a new enterprise…. Great nations, like great men, should keep their word.”
I urge this Congress to enact all legislation necessary to restore the United States’ broken promises.