Tribal Communities

The Third Congressional District includes 15 Pueblo tribes, the Jicarilla Apache Nation and the Navajo Nation. As a member of the Native American Caucus, Rep. Luján maintains close relationships with tribal nations to ensure that their voices are heard in Congress. Luján has stood up for tribal sovereignty and pushed to create economic opportunities for tribal communities by expanding broadband access to tribal communities and strengthening tribal education.

Strengthening Tribal Education

Rep. Luján is a champion of improving education in Indian Country. He introduced the Esther Martinez Native American Language Preservation Act to provide grants to Native American language educational organizations and preserve disappearing Native languages. The bill reauthorizes the Native American Languages Program until 2022 and expands the program's eligibility to smaller-sized classes and allows for longer grant periods.  Rep. Luján introduced the Building upon Unique Indian Learning and Development Act to remove barriers tribal leaders often encounter in teaching Native languages at school. The bill improves on existing programs and partnerships, creating new incentives to encourage educational success throughout Indian Country.  

No child in New Mexico or anywhere in our great nation should be subjected to deplorable conditions in schools that are falling apart. Sadly, too many school facilities in tribal communities face serious problems. That is why he offered an amendment to the Student Success Act, which was signed into law, to highlight the importance of ensuring that Indian children attend schools of physically sound condition.

Strengthening Tribal Healthcare

Suicide rates for Native Americans are more than double the national average and Native teens experience the highest rate of suicide of any population. In New Mexico, Native youth tragically have the highest rate of suicide death. To address this issue, Rep. Luján pushed for a provision in Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act that called on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prioritize suicide prevention programs for Native American youth that are high risk or have a disproportional burden of suicide.

In January 2017, Rep. Luján urged Republican leadership to preserve the gains to access and care made through the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCA), which was permanently reauthorized under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Rep. Luján will continue to work to improve and expand access to healthcare for our American Indian people.

When President Trump instituted a federal hiring freeze in January 2017, Rep. Luján wrote to the President to emphasize the negative impact this action will have on tribal nations. The letter requested that agencies dedicated to serving the needs of Native communities, such as the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, be exempt from the freeze.

Expanding Broadband Access on Tribal Land

Unfortunately, when it comes to broadband access, tribal communities have been disproportionately left behind. According to the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) most recent broadband progress report, 80% of residents on New Mexico’s tribal lands lack access to high-speed broadband. That is why Rep. Luján championed the Office of Native Affairs and Policy (ONAP) at the FCC, which works to ensure that tribes have a seat at the table. He also worked with his colleagues to push the FCC to adopt a Tribal Broadband Factor that would drive investment to expand broadband access to Indian Country. 

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