From left: Chris James, the president and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, Rep. Norma Torres (D-California) and Michelle Holiday, member of board of the National Center. Photo: NCAIED
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House subcommittee takes up bill aimed at improving tribal economies




The House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs is taking testimony on H.R.4506, the Jobs for Tribes Act.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Norma Torres (D-California), the top Democrat on the subcommittee. It creates a “business incubator” program within the Department of the Interior to promote entrepreneurship and economic development in Indian Country and calls on other federal agencies to help promote Indian businesses.

“The high rates of poverty and unemployment facing Native American communities are cause for unified action. This legislation will empower tribes and boost indigenous peoples ability to help themselves and their families prosper,” Torres said when she introduced the bill last November. “It’s time we come together to support commerce in Indian Country by backing them with the tools they need to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and stimulate job creation."

The bill has already drawn the support of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, the Native American Financial Services Association, the National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Contractors Association, the Coalition of Large Tribes, the United and South Eastern Tribes and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.

“The legislation seeks to create new and improve existing programs designed to increase economic opportunities for tribes, Native business owners, and their communities," said Chris James, the president and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. The organization's board chairman, Derrick Watchman, is testifying about the bill at the hearing on Wednesday afternoon.

The hearing on H.R.4506 takes place at 2pm Eastern and it will be webcast. The witness list follows:

Mr. Bryan Rice
Director – Bureau of Indian Affairs
U.S. Department of the Interior
Washington, DC

The Honorable Nathan Small
Chairman
Shoshone-Bannock Tribe
Fort Hall, ID

Mr. Derrick Watchman
Chairman
National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development
Mesa, AZ

Mr. Robert McGhee
Vice President
United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund
Washington, D.C.

House Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Notice:
Legislative Hearing on Tribal Jobs Bill (January 17, 2018)