$8.5 Million For A Tribal Embassy?

Proposed NCAI "Embassy of Tribal Nations"

In the midst of the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression, and with poverty still endemic in Tribal communities, officials with the National Congress of American Indians have announced they are close to spending $8.5 million to acquire a building to serve as an “Embassy of Tribal Nations” in Washington D.C..  Located at 1514 P Street N.W. in the Dupont Circle area near Embassy Row, the facility has a 17,000 square foot office complex situated on an 8,500 square foot lot. The compound contains three office buildings, three carriage houses, and boasts an executive suite. The interior of the building features high ceilings, hardwood floors, remodeled baths, two new kitchens, and parking space for 22 vehicles.

Tex Hall, former president of NCAI, stated that

In the end, this will be a visual example of what NCAI represents: sovereign nations. If we got something much cheaper, how would that make us look?”  He also observed: “There is big unemployment and poverty among our people – just getting by is the predominant issue. I think there has to be a targeted effort to help educate Indian country why this is worth it.

Commenting on the current state of Native American communities, the NCAI notes

the reality is that Indian reservations have a poverty rate of 26% -- the highest poverty rate of any ethnic grouping in America. Indian unemployment is disproportionately high. Indian health, education and income statistics are the worst in the country.”

The NCAI’s website indicates that the organization is devoted to, among other goals, “Indian health care”, “affordable housing”, “Indian education”, and “protection of programs and services to benefit Indian families”. NCAI’s public information sources do not indicate how much money is budgeted toward these programs, or what percentage of its program funding the $8.5 million being spent on an Embassy might represent.