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Native American Issues

There are more than 560 federally recognized Indian tribes. On Indian reservations, poverty is still commonplace and tribes face a number of social and economic challenges. The scope of the United States’ responsibilities to Native Americans includes a wide range of services provided by more than 20 federal agencies.

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Federally recognized tribes have a government-to-government relationship with the United States and are eligible to receive certain protections, services, and benefits by virtue of their unique status as Indian tribes. Both the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service estimate their respective service populations to be about 2 million people. The estimated governmentwide funding for Native American programs has been about $19 billion annually.

In some cases, multiple agencies are involved in providing protections, benefits, and services for Native Americans. For example:

  • tribal contracting under the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program (GAO-12-84),
  • the repatriation of Native American human remains and objects (GAO-10-768).

In other cases, individual agencies focus on certain programs, such as:

  • land management programs provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (GAO-06-781),
  • Indian health care programs provided by the Indian Health Service (GAO-13-553),
  • Indian education programs provided by either the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education or the Department of Education (GAO-13-774),
  • Indian housing programs provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (GAO-14-255), and
  • tribal justice programs provided by the Department of Justice (GAO-12-658R).
Looking for our recommendations? Click on any report to find each associated recommendation and its current implementation status.

Native American Housing:

Additional Actions Needed to Better Support Tribal Efforts
GAO-14-255:
Published: Mar 27, 2014. Publicly Released: Mar 27, 2014.

Indian Health Service:

Opportunities May Exist to Improve the Contract Health Services Program
GAO-14-57:
Published: Dec 11, 2013. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2013.

Indian Affairs:

Better Management and Accountability Needed to Improve Indian Education
GAO-13-774:
Published: Sep 24, 2013. Publicly Released: Sep 24, 2013.

Tribal Law and Order Act:

Indian Issues:

Federal Funding for Non-Federally Recognized Tribes
GAO-12-348:
Published: Apr 12, 2012. Publicly Released: May 9, 2012.

More Reports

Indian Gaming:

Preliminary Observations on the Regulation and Oversight of Indian Gaming
GAO-14-743T:
Published: Jul 23, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 23, 2014.

Public Transportation:

Federal Role Key to Rural and Tribal Transit
GAO-14-589:
Published: Jun 24, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 24, 2014.

Health Care Access:

Improved Oversight, Accountability, and Prioritization Can Improve Access for Native American Veterans
GAO-14-489:
Published: Jun 10, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 10, 2014.

Native American Veterans:

DOL Needs a Clear Plan to Improve Employment and Training Services on Tribal Lands
GAO-13-664:
Published: Sep 26, 2013. Publicly Released: Nov 4, 2013.

Indian Health Service:

VA and IHS:

Further Action Needed to Collaborate on Providing Health Care to Native American Veterans
GAO-13-354:
Published: Apr 26, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2013.

Indian Health Service:

Capping Payment Rates for Nonhospital Services Could Save Millions of Dollars for Contract Health Services
GAO-13-272:
Published: Apr 11, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 2013.

Border Security:

Indian Affairs:

Management Challenges Continue to Hinder Efforts to Improve Indian Education
GAO-13-342T:
Published: Feb 27, 2013. Publicly Released: Feb 27, 2013.

Flood Insurance:

Participation of Indian Tribes in Federal and Private Programs
GAO-13-226:
Published: Jan 4, 2013. Publicly Released: Jan 4, 2013.
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