197. Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies, November 30, 1984
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

306 196. Water Rights of the Ak-Chin Indians October 19, 1984 President Ronald Reagan strongly supported a policy of negotiation of Indian claims rather than expensive litigation. He expressed his views when he signed the “Act relating to the water rights of the Ak-Chin Indian Community” ( U.S. Statutes at Large, 98:2698–2703). I have signed today H.R. 6206, which reconfirms our commitment to the policy of Indian tribal self-determination and does so in a fiscally responsible manner. Two years ago I announced a policy to pursue vigorously negotiations to settle outstanding Indian water rights. I am especially pleased to sign the Ak-Chin community water settlement, H.R. 6206, because it demonstrates the success of that approach. H.R. 6206 ratifies a series of agreements negotiated by officials of the Department of the Interior with the affected parties over the past 2 years. It settles the outstanding water claims of the Ak-Chin Indian community, provides a permanent water supply to be delivered through the Central Arizona Project facilities, provides funds for water conservation , and provides that water not needed to satisfy the Ak-Chin entitlement will be available for allocation to other water users in central Arizona. . . . The Ak-Chin settlement embodies three policies of this administration: first, that Indian tribal governments can and should decide what is best for their people; second, that the complex issue of Indian water rights is better handled through negotiation rather than litigation; third, that we will fulfill our commitments in a fiscally responsible fashion . H.R. 6206 exemplifies how all parties can benefit from a negotiated settlement. . . . [Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1984, 2:1580.] 197. Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies November 30, 1984 The Commission’s report, in two parts, presented recommendations and findings of obstacles, with explanatory discussion. In the letter of transmittal to the president, the Commission noted the principles it had followed: “the importance of preserving the government-to-government relationship which is the cornerstone of your FederalIndian policy; the need to recognize and build upon the ever growing competence of Indian people and their leaders; the importance of encouraging individual Indians to enter the business world; the need for tribes to act to promote business development on reservations by Indian and non-Indian entrepreneurs; and the importance of extending to tribal governments the regulatory and financial incentives available to other governments.” Despite these fine-sounding goals, many Indian leaders condemned the report as cutting back federal aid and ignoring the Indian way of doing things. . . . . INTRODUCTION TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS The Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies proceeded upon the assumption that Indian reservation economies were an integral part of the national economy and not distinctly separate third world economies. . . . From the beginning, the Commission approached the problem of studying Indian reservation economic underdevelopment empirically and deductively. It sought to learn what the obstacles were that adversely affected competitive returns to land, labor and capital, as they were factored into 307 an economic production function. As witness after witness testified before the Commission , certain problems began to emerge over and over again. These problems began to take shape and to develop a character of their own. There were 2,320 individual obstacle identi- fications, which, when grouped according to factor, function and attribution . . . emerged into 40 major obstacles. The Presidential Commission on Indian Reservation Economies made five sets of recommendations : Development Framework, Capital Formation, Business Development, Labor Markets and Development Incentives. Within each set, one or more specific recommendations can be found. It is apparent from reading the narrative to each set of recommendations that the Commission views economic development as a multidimensional process, affecting major functional aspects of an Indian society’s economy, polity, religion, community, education and family structure. The processes of social and economic transformation necessary to make Indian reservations viable areas of economic growth will require whole-hearted commitment to change by all levels of government. The Federal-Indian relationship needs to mature beyond that of benign paternalism to that of a federalist partnership. Indian tribal governments need to exercise sovereign responsibility and to select development policies which make it possible for individual Indians to succeed in business. The recommendations which follow, however, recognize that the real motivating power of change must come from the Indian people and from their leadership. The direction and pace at which change...


pdf