WHEREAS, the Tanana Chiefs Conference seeks to reaffirm the Congressional finding within the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act “there is no resource that is more vital to the continued existence and integrity of Indian tribes than their children and the United States has a direct interest, as trustee, in protecting Indian children who are members of, or are eligible for membership in, an Indian tribe”. (25 USC 3201 (a)(1)(F)); and
WHEREAS, the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act (25 USC § 3207) requires criminal background checks of current or prospective employees of a tribe or tribal entity that involves regular contact with or control over children; and
WHEREAS, the criminal background check standards contained in the statute and implemented by regulations issued from the BIA and IHS do not allow for consideration of successful rehabilitation undertaken by individuals, provide reasonable time parameters regarding how long ago the crime occurred, and include misdemeanor crimes in those crimes that can preclude an individual for employment; and
WHEREAS, the criminal background check statutory requirements and regulations are out of step with many other federal and state law requirements in this area and are creating serious barriers for tribes and tribal entities when trying to fill key positions, even when qualified individuals with no safety risk to children are available; and
WHEREAS, the statute provides tribes and tribal entities with the authority to develop their own standards as long as they are in accord with criminal background check standards for federal employees, but the language of the statute has not provided tribes with sufficient authority, as states have, to develop standards that are reasonable regarding the protection of children, while also ensuring authority for tribes to develop standards that do not unnecessarily impede the ability to recruit and hire qualified individuals.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Tanana Chiefs Conference Full Board of Directors supports amendments to the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act statute to enact reasonable criminal background check standards for tribes that balance the need to protect their children and also recruit and hire qualified individuals for key governmental positions. To further pursue tribal self-determination, the implementing regulations should be clarified to allow tribes and tribal consortium to create their own minimum standards of character.
Tribally created standards of character will allow for traditional tribal justice and reconciliation forums to align with tribal employment and create better protections for Native children.
Submitted by: Chalkyitsik Village Council
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