New Jersey Executive Order Adopts Recommendations That Seek To Improve American Indians’ Lives
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) this month signed an executive order adopting 27 recommendations of a report that examined issues affecting local American Indian tribal communities, including discrimination, employment and health care, Indian Country Today reports. In August 2006, Corzine formed the state Committee on Native American Community Affairs to identify the needs of the community. The committee conducted about 20 public meetings with tribal communities and local leaders before writing the report.
The executive order instructs state agencies, such as the departments of Children and Families, Labor and Workforce Development and Law and Public Safety, to proceed with "particular care and diligence, given the indifference and neglect that [American Indian] groups and individuals within the state have often confronted."
Corzine said, "As the report indicates, government needs to do better at recognizing the rights, needs, history and cultural identities of these groups," adding, "I am indeed proud to sign this executive order so that we can improve the lives and opportunities for Native Americans throughout the Garden State."
Autumn Wind Scott -- of the Ramapough Lenape Indian Nation and chair of the New Jersey Commission on American Indian Affairs -- said, "Our people are suffering in so many areas," adding, "Now that the executive order is signed, the first order of business is clarifying the ambiguous nature of our state recognition." State recognition will enable tribes to qualify for more federal and state government programs, according to Indian Country Today.
Scott said, "Fixing the confusing language will require legislation, and we're looking at what other states have done and choosing the best way to move forward. Our people have been so isolated, they haven't known what's available to them. Now the state will reach out to them in our tribal centers" (Woodard, Indian Country Today, 10/10).
The report is available online (.pdf).