WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today issued the following statement on the passing of Senate Committee on Indian Affairs member and two-time chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, John S. McCain:
“With Senator McCain’s passing, Indian Country has lost one of its most ardent advocates,” Hoeven said. “Senator McCain is one of the Committee’s longest-serving members and he worked tirelessly on behalf on Indian Country, particularly Indian children. He strongly believed the federal government has a solemn duty to meet its trust obligation to Native Americans. Senator McCain was a champion for tribal self-governance and self-determination.
“Senator McCain served Indian Country and this nation with honor, selflessness, dignity, and tenacity. As chairman, I aspire to continue Senator McCain’s long legacy of work on behalf of America’s indigenous people. Thank you Senator McCain for your service,” Hoeven concluded.
Senator McCain served on the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs from 1987 until 2018.
Senator McCain served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs from 1995 to 1996 and again from 2005 until 2006.
Senator McCain’s many accomplishments as a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs include:
Recognizing Native American Veterans: Senator McCain authored laws that supported the construction of the Native American Veterans Memorial and the American Indian Museum in Washington, DC.
Strengthening Indian Child Abuse Prevention: In 1990, Senator McCain authored the Indian Child Protection and Family Violence Prevention Act to combat the high incidence of child physical and sexual abuse on Indian reservations and other instances of domestic violence in Indian communities.
Expanding the AMBER Alert in Indian Country: Senator McCain authored legislation to expand federal support for AMBER Alert services in Indian Country.
On April 13, 2018, the Ashlynne Mike AMBER Alert in Indian County Act was signed into law in honor of Ashlynne Mike, an 11-year old Navajo girl who was abducted and murdered. The AMBER alert for her disappearance was sent late the day after her death.
Fighting For Transparency In Indian Country: Senator McCain led an investigation into tribal lobbying matters in 2004 and 2005. This investigation led to changes in lobbying rules and the prosecution of federal officials and lobbyists for actions related to their work on tribal matters.
Fighting For Indian Water Settlements: Senator McCain worked on nine bills to settle and honor water rights claims in the State of Arizona involving the Ak-Chin, the Gila River Indian Community, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, the Zuni Indian Tribe, the Prescott Yavapai Nation, and much of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and the Tohono O’odham Nation.
He also worked with former Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ), a renowned expert on federal Indian water law, on the Arizona Water Settlement Act of 2004.
Promoting Indian Self-Determination: In 1994, Senator McCain was a primary sponsor of the Indian Self-Determination Contract Reform Amendments. This legislation streamlined the contracting process by which Native American tribes began taking over the operations of many programs previously administered by the Bureau of Indian Affairs or the Indian Health Service.
Advancing Tribal Self-Governance: Senator McCain’s work on the Tribal Self-Governance Demonstration Project Act in 1991 is considered part of a historic advancement in Federal Indian policy. The tribal self-governance movement dramatically expanded the power of Indian tribes to determine their own policies, programs, and priorities for Federal Indian programs. The tribal self-governance policy gave tribes the authority to administer and tailor Federal Indian programs for their communities using funds provided directly to tribal governments by the Department of the Interior and the Indian Health Service through compacts and funding agreements. Senator McCain was the principle author of the Tribal Self-Governance Act of 1994, which led to the permanent authority of Indian tribes to downsize the Federal government’s bureaucratic presence on Indian reservations.
Preserving Native American Languages: Senator McCain sponsored the Native American Languages Act, which promoted the rights and freedoms of Native Americans to use and preserve their language. This legislation also empowered tribes to designate and use their language as the official language of their respective communities.
Regulating Indian Gaming: Senator McCain was one of the principal authors of the seminal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which affirmed the rights of tribes to operate gaming operations on reservation land.
Improving Housing on Reservations: Senator McCain was the principle sponsor of Senate efforts to convert Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing assistance for Native Americans into direct block grants that provide Indian tribes with greater flexibility to shape their housing assistance and poverty eradication programs.
Reforming Indian Forest Management: In 1990, Senator McCain sponsored legislation to reverse the chronic mismanagement of Indian timber and forest resources by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). This legislation required the BIA to conform its forest management practices to the priorities of Indian tribes.