For Immediate Release
December 8, 2011
Contact: Wallace Collins
OKLAHOMA CITY – Yesterday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), under the direction of President Obama and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, announced that it supports amending federal law to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make disaster declaration requests directly to the president.
“The Oklahoma Democratic Party supports legislative efforts to strengthen the bonds between Native American tribes and the U.S. government. We also recognize the importance of having access to FEMA resources during a time of crisis,” said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins.
Under current law, only states, through the governor, can make disaster declaration requests directly to the president. Amending the law would acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and the trust relationship of the United States, and enhance FEMA’s working relationship with tribal governments. Such a change would be another step in fulfilling the promise of a presidential memo issued by President Obama to improve the administration’s support for tribal governments. Such a legislative change to the Stafford Act would allow a tribal government to choose whether to directly request a separate declaration or to receive assistance, as they do presently, under a declaration for a state.