Petition 80584

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Economic Development for Native American People (80584-C1-R215)

Amend Resolution 215  
Christians are called to celebrate and protect the worth and dignity of every human being  
and to struggle against oppression and exploitation. We are called to "proclaim release to  
the captives . . . to set at liberty those who are oppressed" (Luke 4:18, RSV).  
Economic realities, such as "one world economies" and "mega-mergers," can have a negative impact on both the rich and poor of this world.  Native American spirituality speaks to and challenges inequities with its understanding of how to care for the whole family of God. Native American United Methodists believe their cultural understanding of stewardship is God-given and has been distorted from its intended purpose; God's creation has been used with greed rather than care.  Native Americans in The United Methodist Church believe that the Church must take a proactive stand for reform of church and society that will introduce a radically different model of economic relationships into the new century--a God-centered model. The United Methodist Church believes that models of economic development should not have a negative impact on Native American people.  
For more than five hundred years, Native Americans have lived and survived in the context of first, colonialism and second, capitalism and have been impacted by the economics of greed. Many have been forced to live in poverty; however, a small segment of the Native American population is surviving through tribal economic
development based on gambling.  Unfortunately, tribal gambling casinos have had negative social consequences beyond and even within tribes.
The need for economic development and growth is critically acute in most Native American communities across the United States. Economic conditions are appalling, with some reservations facing exceptionally high rates (some as high as 80-90 percent) of ing upwards of 80 percent unemployment and poverty rates well above  at many times the national average.  
In fact, many Native American reservations have very have the high est poverty rates in the United States and America. rank very low in H health and , education indicators , and income . statistics are the worst in the country. T T here is virtually little or no tax base on many reservations. Equity for investment is practically nonexistent or equity comes from questionable sources and at an exorbitant rate. As a result , and capital for development is nearly impossible to obtain. S some tribes have resorted to gambling endeavors   enterprises in an effort to transform improve their economies. However, t T he vast majority of tribes remain in desperate need of meaningful, diversified economic development.  
Economic development encompasses everything from job creation to reform in tax codes, from the creation of banking institutions to the expansion of tribal autonomy authority ; . D development of basic physical infrastructure such as (roads and  and sewers); , telecommunications to bridge the digital divide; , and fiscal literacy development for  
Native American people. Collectively, these basic essentials are must requirements all
occur for successful effective economic development.  
Tribal sovereignty is historical, legal, and sacred to American Indian people. With due recognition of tribal sovereignty and the self-determining aspirations of Native Americans, W  w e affirm autonomous decision-making economic development as a critical means by which Native American tribes. After all, t n communities will truly be empowered to pursue their own priorities for their people and their lands and the only means to successfully weave tribal economies into the larger economic fabric of the Americas. T he primary ultimate goal of economic development is to create economic self-sufficiency in Native American tribes communities . Ultimately, sovereignty ensures and enables tribes to deliberate and map out a strategy that will hopefully lead to self-sufficiency. The primary economic decisions must be made by tribes. Tribes must control their own affairs and
The U.S. Department of the Interior has grossly mismanaged tribal lands and has lost track of billions of dollars in mining, logging, and other royalties that should have gone to benefit Native American tribes. Fiscal accountability and Cleaning up the accounting and ethical management of trust funds is an absolute necessity in the quest for tribal economic self-sufficiency critical .  

Therefore, be it resolved that The United Methodist Church:
The General Conference of The United Methodist Church urges:
1. United Methodists to s S upport supports the the efforts of sovereign Native American nations to create means and methods of economic development that do not depend on gambling and do not disrupt or destroy sacred sites. ;
2. Urges the the U.S. government to affirm tribal sovereignty to end its domination and paternalism and work with Native American tribes in a genuine partnership to support economic development and trust reform. ;
3. Directs the General Board of Church and Society and the General Board of Discipleship in collaboration with Native Americans to develop educational tools for local churches and individuals as a study on contemporary Native American issues; especially tribal sovereignty as it relates to effective economic development.  The studies should also include the Church’s role in influencing contemporary mission and ministry with Native people and create strategies and actions which can allow active participation of local churches in assisting Native Americans to find a God-centered alternative to gambling as a form of economic development.   . the General Board of Church and Society and the Native American Comprehensive Plan of the General Board of Global Ministries to cosponsor the Native American Economic Development and Empowerment Task Force. The responsibilities of the task force are to provide ways for United Methodist boards, agencies, and annual conferences to work with Native American tribes on economic development; to develop collaborative models for economic empowerment; to consider convening a summit with socially responsible investors, community development organizations, religious representatives, and government officials on Native American economic development; and to monitor public programs and holding decision-makers accountable;
4. Authorizes the  the General Board of Church and Society to to work with the National Congress of American Indians and other Native American organizations in advocating for federal economic development programs and initiatives. ;
5. Encourages the General Board of Church and Society to facilitate participation of United Methodist Native Americans in the work of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and other advocacy events which influence economic development for Native Americans.
5 6. Directs the General Board of Global Ministries to to support funding of economic development projects of Native American tribes. ;
6 7. Directs the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to to invest funds in Native American financial institutions and community organizations.  such as the First Nations Development Institute, the Montana Native American Finance and Development Initiative, and the Blackfeet Reservation Development Fund;
7. the General Board of Church and Society to facilitate participation of United Methodist Native Americans in the work of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. See Social Principles, ΒΆ 163.