Lack Of Funding Hampers Enhanced Tribal ID Card Development

In order to comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative and the Real ID Act, travelers seeking entry into Canada from the United States must present either a current passport or a security-enhanced ID card by June 1, 2009. The federal government has provided millions of dollars to state governments to develop the chip-embedded ID cards and supporting database systems – but no money has been provided to Tribes to equip their members with the necessary cards and support.

Many Tribal members prefer to utilize ID cards issued by their Tribal governments when traveling internationally, to reflect the sovereignty of their Tribes. Despite the 1794 Jay Treaty that guarantees indigenous peoples the right to move freely between Canada and the U.S., if Tribal governments can't issue security-enhanced ID cards by June 1, Tribal members attempting to enter Canada with standard IDs will likely be turned back at the border. Tulalip Tribal leaders have agreed to develop ID cards for several Northwest Tribes, along with a database that would link to computers at the border, but it appears unlikely the systems will be on-line in time. "We're racing the clock right now," said Theresa Sheldon, a Tulalip policy analyst who has worked on the border security issue for several years. "The only way we would be able to make it by the deadline is if they gave us an extension."

The National Congress of American Indians has filed a request with the federal government for a $20 million grant to help Tribes create their own enhanced IDs. However, even if that request is approved, the money will likely not become available to Tribes until 2010.

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Comments (8) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Sadie Lee Nchols - April 26, 2009 9:08 PM

I need your legal help. I am Tolowa in the Smith River California area. I don't have the money to help myself and my family. Please reply. Thank you.

Dave B - April 27, 2009 8:36 AM

In the interest of a more "secure society", once again Indigenous treaty rights are swept aside. Unwelcome in the very country that owes its existence to all these people!

Leadhorse - April 28, 2009 12:54 PM

i will be crossing back into my homelands on june first~! i will be using my tribal id. how can anyone say my tribal id dosent tell that im native and that i have a bloodline to my homelands and i dont need a passport to walk on our homelands! The gov. want to put a chip in our id's dont you understand?!!! They will be able to track and get into any sov. gov. anytime they want! They will be saying you can visit you homelands but you will need our permission to do so and you will have to pay us to do so! Every tribe needs to stand together and say we dont need a passport to trave,visit,trade or to go to sacred burial or any sacred sites!!!!! I am going to cross back into our homelands on this day!!! I am Leadhorse

Oceanrock - April 30, 2009 11:10 AM

I agree that some advantages should be given to natives with ancestral lineage. I'm of Aleutian decent and live in the lower 48, but am also a realist in today's world. The entire world is a melting pot. People staked their claims and fought and lost over it centuries ago. We're still trying to do the same. There are now enough government minority preferences and funds being given in the US to too many - typically recent century non-natives who are now becoming the majority. Do we provide the same ID exceptions for our south american brethren who are of their native bloodline or blended decent? Does Europe give exceptions to their Caucasian, Asian, or Mongolian people or Latin/South America to theirs - don't think so. Every country has local ID's for their residents and a separate ID/Passport to pass between borders - natives or not. Those have been replaced by the National ID and the US is looking at this Enhanced-ID for local country border crossing. At some point in time we all have to quit complaining about poor us and level the playing field to treat everyone equal. We're well beyond the white man's 1492 Columbus landing or 1773 Boston Tea Party and those forefathers (fair-skinned or not) are no longer around - nor are many of their or our ways. Our native tribes have it pretty good in a number of areas compared to the immigrant residents. We're just encouraging more racism and hatred from others. When we move to a different state, we need that state's drivers license. When we travel to another country, we need a passport. Let's get a combined ID card that allows broader access. I used to have too many department store cards and reduced them down to one or two widely accepted cards. Look at all the store club cards that have come out and the increased price on goods if you don't have their card - how rediculous is that?! I don't need more cards to carry around or worry about. Let's try to combine and multi-purpose them and call it good.

leadhorse - May 14, 2009 8:27 AM

you sound like a white man! am i right. you will never understand native people! we are not like you and never will be. have you ever been invited to any ceremony's. have you ever sweated with elders and learned from them. If you have and you understand the native people then why do you talk of accepting anything that takes more rights and land away from the native's generations to come! and its not poor us its how dare you! Im from oklahoma which is a word from my tribe the Choctaws, do you even know what it means? well look it up. But i do agree on "Passports should be put on everyone except Native's" everyone who is not native is a foreigner to these lands and should carry a passport for being here! Leadhorse

Oceanrock - May 29, 2009 12:48 PM

leadhorse, my apologies for any insults. I am a mixed-blood and have attended tribal ceremonies. I am proud of my heritage, native and not. I moved to a small-town rural place away from my ancestors and first got similar "outsider" response from them. We can debate matters of where our families (before we were born) decided to move and live and the conveniences of the white world which we all use (money, cars, food, travel outside our soveriegn states over other tribal lands on paved roads, etc.). Let's not. The issue here is that tribal id needs to not only validate who we say we are - not by just taking our word for it - it needs to protect us from others who may try to steal our identity. Computer card scanning is here. It shows who we say we are. Let's not think of it as an invasion of privacy. It's for our protection. I want to think about the good in it and hope you can too.

Randall Scott Davis - November 2, 2009 3:32 PM

moved from the state of GA. to the state of TN. and had to change my drivers license,stayed that I'M AN American Indian, Blackfoot/Cherokee
was asked for my I.D. card and did not have one, how can I solve this problem?

Natedog - January 10, 2010 4:59 PM

I used my us passport to get into canada then they saw that i had a dui! They said if i try to get through again i will be arrested. My canadian buddy said I could use my INDIAN ID CARD to get through withe no problems? Anyone know if that is true. Natedog Aleut~

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