Julián for the Future
For Immediate Release: July 25, 2019
Contact: Sawyer Hackett

Julián Castro Introduces People First Indigenous Communities Platform

Secretary Castro to discuss new policy platform at meet-and-greet on Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa on Friday
SAN ANTONIO, TX (July 25, 2019) – On Thursday, presidential candidate, former Obama Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julián Castro, unveiled via Medium his People First IndigenousCommunities platform, a sweeping blueprint of policies and commitments to support and strengthen the sovereignty of Indigenous communities, honor the commitments established in treaty agreements with tribal nations, and bolster partnerships between the federal government and Indigenous communities to ensure all native people can thrive in the years ahead. 
“For generations, Indigenous communities have been treated as second-class citizens rather than sovereign tribal nations free to determine their future,” said Secretary Julián Castro. “The federal government has repeatedly failed to honor treaty obligations, respect unique government-to-government relationships, and allowed corporations to exploit sacred land for their own profits. I’m proud to release my People First Indigenous Communities platform to establish a blueprint for ensuring all native people and communities can thrive in the years ahead.”
Following the release of his People First Indigenous Communities platform, Secretary Castro will travel to Iowa and participate in a meet-and-greet with community members on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama County, where he will discuss his blueprint for indigenous communities and vision for the future of our nation. 
Secretary Castro’s People First Indigenous Communities platform builds on a suite of platforms released on immigrationeducationhousinglead exposure, and policing reform—all of which have received wide acclaim by policy experts, advocates, journalists, and voters. Secretary Castro has established himself as a leader in the field on both the breadth and depth of policy proposals released by 2020 candidates. 
Following his trip to Iowa, Secretary Castro will travel to Detroit for the second round of Democratic primary debates on Wednesday, July 31. The New York Times described the first Democratic debates as “Castro’s big night,” and an ABC/Washington Post poll published following the first set of debates showed Secretary Castro had moved into the top five polling candidates nationally at 4 percent. Secretary Castro is also on the verge of qualifying for the September Democratic debates, after securing the grassroots donations threshold and three out of the four qualifying polls required to guarantee a spot on the stage. 
The full outline of Secretary Castro’s People First Indigenous Communities platform can be viewed here and below.

‘People First’ Indigenous Communities Policy

The strength of our nation has always been our capacity to learn from our failures and work together towards a better future. For generations, indigenous communities have been treated as second-class citizens rather than sovereign tribal nations free to determine their future. The federal government has repeatedly failed to honor treaty obligations, respect unique government-to-government relationships, and allowed corporations to exploit sacred land for their own profits.
This history has contributed to greater disparity, greater injustice, and in some cases, intolerable conditions in Indigenous communities. Native families are more likely to live in poverty, and often lack access to quality health care, affordable and safe housing, education, internet access, and economic opportunity. Indigenous women are more likely to experience violence, and more likely to never receive justice. Additionally, extractive industries reap the benefits of Indigenous land often without permission, while these communities disproportionately feel the effects of a changing climate.
As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama, I visited and worked with Indigenous communities and tribal nations across the country, hearing directly from native peoples about their experiences and challenges they face. These conversations were some of the most impactful of my entire career. At the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, I visited a home with 13 people all sharing an extremely crowded two-bedroom house. Despite the most difficult of circumstances, this native community were resilient, and remained determined to make progress in partnership with the federal government.
Indigenous people have been continually subject to cruelty and neglect at the hands of their government. They deserve a president who will strengthen tribal sovereignty, honor treaty commitments, ensure justice for Indigenous women, and advance tribal-federal partnerships for progress. As president, I will partner with Indigenouscommunities for a fairer and more prosperous future. My People First Indigenous Communities platform lays out a blueprint for ensuring all native people and communities can thrive in the years ahead. 
Strengthening Tribal Sovereignty:
●      Respect the sovereignty and unique government-to-government relationship of Indigenous peoples and federal government by honoring treaty obligations.
●        Create a White House Council on Indigenous Communities to coordinate interagency Native American policy and reinstitute the annual government-to-government White House Tribal Nations Conference to facilitate high-level engagement with Indigenous communities.
●        Establish expanded pathways to self governance and self determination by passing the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland and Sen. John Hoeven.
●         Establish well-resourced Tribal Advisory Committees within all cabinet-level federal agencies by the end of 2024, and continue the work of Executive Order 13175 ensuring tribal governments and communities have a voice in federal policymaking and prompt access to federal agencies.
●           Increase diversity in federal government agencies by working with Indigenous communities and partnering with Tribal Colleges, Universities and Native American-serving institutions to create pipelines for meaningful employment.
●          Implement the Carcieri fix, to address the decision from the Supreme Court case Carcieri v. Salazar (2009), through the passage of HR375, which amends the Act of June 18, 1934, to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for Indian Tribes.
Honoring Treaty Commitments
Article VI of the U.S. Constitution classifies treaties as the “supreme law of the land.” The federal government not only has a moral responsibility to fulfill treaty commitments, but a constitutional obligation. In a Castro Administration, we will honor these treaty commitments.
Health care:
●         Work with Congress to fully fund the Indian Health Service (IHS) for both tribal and urban native communities as a part of healthcare reform, bridging the $5,000 per capita deficit in healthcare investment for tribal communities, and ensure this funding is protected against lapses in government appropriations.
●     Expand access to healthcare facilities, providers, and professionals and technologies like telemedicine to Indigenous communities and adapt public health programs to address the unique needs of Indigenous communities, including in prenatal care, mental, and dental care.
●       Combat the opioid crisis in native communities by ensuring that the Indian Health Service and tribes have access to both funding and training to put best practices in place, in partnership with tribal governments and in combination with a broader plan to end this public health crisis.
●         Invest an additional $2.5 billion over 10 years to ensure full funding of Indian Housing Block Grant program, the Indian Community Development Block Grant Program program, and the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program, streamline processes to access funds, and reassess funding formulas under the Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act of 1996 (NAHASDA) that determine grant sizes to ensure they are consistent with the needs of communities.
●          Pass the Tribal HUD-VASH Act, introduced by Senator Jon Tester and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, to codify housing protections to Native American veterans,continuing the work of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under Secretary Castro, and commit to end tribal veteran homelessness by 2025 through a national investment of $5 billion a year to combat homelessness.
●          Commit to investing in universal pre-K and tribal school infrastructure, including in accessibility and safety as part of a comprehensive effort to invest $150 billion into public schools over the next ten years.
●       Recruit and retain teachers from Indigenous communities, including bilingual teachers who speak Indigenous languages, through a national teacher residency initiative that includes integration with minority-serving institutions, including Tribal Colleges and Universities and other Native American-serving institutions, expands access to state certification for teachers, and increase teacher pay in tribal schools through a teacher tax credit of up to $10,000.
●       Directly support minority-serving institutions, including Tribal Colleges and Universities and other Native American-serving institutions through $3 billion dollar a year in investment.
Economic Opportunity:
●        Invest in economic development and entrepreneurship through competitive grant development programs such as Promise Zones, strengthening the Office of Native American Business Development, expanding the Buy Indian Act, loan guarantees, and business incubator programs with the Jobs for Tribes Act, introduced by Rep. Norma Torres, and invest at least $150 million over ten years for these programs.
●        Expand high speed internet access to tribal communities within five years and bridge the digital divide by working directly with tribal governments to direct investments.
●        Restore Title II protections for the internet, including consumer protections such as net neutrality that are particularly necessary for communities without significant competition.
●           Work with tribal governments to improve infrastructure on tribal lands, connect Indigenous communities to job opportunities in neighboring cities -- including in roads, mass transit, waterways, and access to airports -- and support climate resiliency in frontline Indigenous communities, particularly in Alaska.
Land Use and the Environment:
●       Modernize and codify tribal consultation requirements to ensure federal agencies, including independent agencies, have a meaningful and responsive process to solicit input from Indigenous communities when pursuing policies that affect them when pursuing policies that affect them and ensure communities have judicial recourse when meaningful consultation is not conducted. 

●          End leasing of federal lands for fossil fuel exploration and extraction to protect lands that have traditional religious and cultural importance to Indigenouscommunities and require free, prior, and informed consent from indigenouscommunities for major infrastructure projects on these federal lands. 

●         Expand the U.S. Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program to support technical assistance, education, training, and incentives for renewable energy investments by tribal communities, including tribal governments and native-led nonprofits that work in native communities, and ensure Indigneous communities have a meaningful voice in the transition to a carbon-free future.
Cultural Sovereignty:
●          Defend the Indian Child Welfare Act against legal challenges and other efforts that undermine the law.
●        Pass the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, introduced by Senator Tom Udall and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, to strengthen and reauthorize the Native American Languages Grant Program and commit to $130 million for the program over 10 years to ensure the survival and vitality of Indigenous languages.
●          As a part of instituting universal pre-K programs through grants to state, local, and tribal governments, support language programs in Indigenous languages.
●       Establish a Indigenous Community Cultural Repatriation Fund in partnership with tribal governments, funded by both charitable donations and federal funds, to repatriate privately-owned Indigenous cultural property to tribes, or with the consent of Indigenous communities, in museums and other public institutions.
●         Pass the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act, introduced by Senator Martin Heinrich and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, to prosecute the illegal export of tribal cultural heritage and facilitate the return of these items from foreign countries and strengthen the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
 ●         Provide federal funding to tribes to increase the availability of culturally-appropriate food, including by ensuring Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) supports culturally-appropriate foods, invest in disease-prevention and health maintenance of native peoples, and support tribal farmers markets to improve market access for Indigenous farmers.
Justice for Indigenous Women:
●      Reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) for at least five years to prevent relapse of VAWA authorities and expand tribal jurisdiction, including over non-native individuals, over sexual assault, stalking, trafficking, and child abuse.

●       Roll back President Trump’s Department of Justice changes in definition of domestic violence to re-include psychological abuse and other non-physical actions. 

●       Repeal the Hyde amendment to ensure the Indian Health Service, often the only healthcare provider in native communities, can provide comprehensive healthcare services including abortion.
●       Prioritizing the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and the human trafficking of native women and girls by forming a Presidential task force of tribal leaders, public health officials, and federal officials, including law enforcement.
               ○      Pass Savanna’s Act, introduced by Rep. Norma Torres and Senator Lisa Murkowski, to create standards for the investigation of cases of MMIW.
               ○      Pass the Not Invisible Act, introduced by Rep. Deb Haaland and Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto, to create an Advisory Committee within the Bureau of Indian Affairs about how to best prevent, report, and respond to violence and human trafficking across Indigenous communities.
               ○      Pass the Survive Act, introduced by Rep. Tom O’Halleran and Sen. John Hoeven, to establish a grant program to Indian Tribes to support victims of crime, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.
Eliminating Barriers to Democratic Participation:
●       Ensure Indigenous communities are fully able to participate in democracy by ensuring equal access to in-person, early and all forms of voting and combat efforts to disenfranchise members of Indigenous communities through efforts such as voter ID laws.
●        Work with tribal governments to eliminate barriers to voting, including by training local election administrators from tribal communities and expand satellite absentee voting to reach remote areas.
Partnering with Indigenous Communities Throughout the Americas:
●      Affirm support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of IndigenousPeoples and its principles to recognize the freedoms and rights of Indigenouspeoples in the United States and abroad.

●         Pass the Jobs for Tribes Act, introduced by Rep. Norma Torres, to promote cultural exchange and economic links between Indigenous communities in the United States and their counterparts in the Americas.
●      Ensure that a 21st Century Marshall Plan for Central America to support accountability, anti-corruption, and economic development in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, includes assistance for marginalized Indigenous communitiesthat face structural barriers to safety and opportunity.
●      Ensure individuals from Indigenous communities that do not speak Spanish, including those that seek asylum, have access to interpreters, legal counsel, and are fully informed of their rights during immigration-related legal proceedings.
About Secretary Julián Castro
Julián Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014-2017. Before that, he was Mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas — the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city at the time. In 2012, he gave a rousing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, during which he described the American Dream as a relay to be passed from generation to generation. In 2018, Castro founded Opportunity First, an organization to invest in the next generation of progressive leaders. In October 2018, Little, Brown published Castro’s memoir, An Unlikely Journey: Waking Up from My American Dream. On January 12, 2019, Secretary Castro announced his candidacy for President of the United States. Follow Julián Castro on TwitterFacebook and InstagramJulianfortheFuture.com and Julianparaelfuturo.com.