Murkowski: Alaska Natives Deserve “More Action Than Rhetoric” from Administration

Senator: White House Council on Native Affairs Must Adhere to Law

WASHINGTON, DC — As the Obama administration prepares to convene its new White House Council on Native Affairs next week, Senator Lisa Murkowski is calling for it to pursue policies that are consistent with tribal self-determination – especially allowing tribes to determine the best methods to implement integrated economic policies to promote opportunities for Alaska Natives, rather than top-down guidelines from Washington, D.C.

In a letter to the White House (attached), Senator Murkowski urged the Council to allow tribes the flexibility in how they implement regulations and guidelines consistent with the Indian Employment, Training, and Related Services Demonstration Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-477).  The policies – referred to as the “477 program” after the statute number – have been an effective tool in improving poverty and unemployment for the hundreds of Alaska tribes that utilize them.

A frequent advocate of the federal government getting out of the way, Murkowski insisted “it is essential that the Administration follow the intent of the law as provided by P.L. 102-477 and allow tribes to re-allocate and re-budget funds within the parameters of an approved 477 plan, without imposing new fund-by-fund reporting requirements.”

Other key excerpts from the letter:

  • “Over the last 50 years, the United States has promoted a policy of tribal self determination based on the twin pillars of strong tribal governments and strong tribal economies. We must continue to work to ensure that our Nation’s policies are more action than rhetoric.”


  • “Economic opportunity to the level most Americans enjoy has yet to reach our tribal communities. Within American Indian and Alaska Native communities unemployment often exceeds 49 percent.”

A number of other Senators signed onto her letter, sharing her views and concerns with the White House: Senators Begich, Tim Johnson (D-SD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Jon Tester (D-MT).