Let’s keep our promises.

We've made commitments. We've signed Treaties. It's time to stop acting like these things don't matter.

We have some work to do.

Between 1863-1866, more than 10,000 Diné (Navajo) prisoners of the U.S. were marched 250-450 miles from their tribal lands (most of which are here in Arizona) to prison camps in present-day New Mexico. Thousands died from starvation, sickness and injury. This proud tribal nation signed a Treaty with the U.S. government, under duress, so that they could return to their home.

Even so, our government has managed to violate that Treaty and treaties with other nations over and over again – and the human rights of indigenous people all across this land.

There are 22 sovereign tribal nations in Arizona.

It’s time for us to honor our commitments, be good partners and protect the human rights of all people within our borders. We also have much to learn from our tribal neighbors. And we’re going to need each other to solve the shared challenges we face.

Building a relationship of mutual respect and learning is essential to a sustainable future.

Guiding Principles

1. Tribal nations are sovereign nations with a right to self-determination and self-sufficiency, and they deserve the same honor and respect that our state government gives to any other nation.

2. Those who live on tribal lands should have a voice in addressing our shared challenges.

3. Tribal nations have known and cared for this desert land for centuries. They bring wisdom and experience to the work of building a sustainable future, especially in light of the environmental crisis we are facing. We should listen.


Key policy proposals

1. Reinstate the Arizona Commission of Indian Affairs and fully fund it to meet the needs of the 22 tribal nations in Arizona.

After serving tribal nations since the 1950’s, the commission was eliminated in 2016. One of my first acts as governor will be to re-establish the commission and ensure it has the resources needed to fulfill its mission. As governor, I will also spend meaningful time on all 22 tribal lands, attend important meetings and events, and my door will always be open to tribal members. I will listen more than I speak. I will be open to learning and growing in my understanding of these issues. And I will take action to address the concerns I am hearing.

2. Promote the leadership of tribal members in my administration and ensure that the Nations are at the table when important decisions are being made on all the issues.

I will appoint tribal members to boards and commissions throughout state government, not just to the Commission of Indian Affairs, and to my cabinet. Nearly 30% of Arizona’s land belongs to tribal nations. Ensuring that our core leadership includes indigenous people is a matter of justice and it is an essential step to begin undoing some of the damage the state has inflicted. But it is also key to the economic growth and cultural vitality of our state. Having diverse voices included in and leading the conversation creates a disruption for good, leads to new and more innovative ways of seeing and doing things, and helps an organization become more relevant and effective. This is especially true as the world gets smaller and Arizona must compete in a global marketplace.

3. Begin undoing the damage the state has inflicted on the tribal nations through the work of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Evidence from around the world shows that there are clear links between reconciliation efforts, which focus on addressing inequality and attempt to heal divisions in society, and economic growth and development. We will partner with national foundations and local organizations to fund and lead this work. The commission will enable Native Americans and all impacted communities to build the truth about our shared history from the bottom up; help us all come to a broader understanding of who we are, how we got here and what we need to do to move together; and track our progress in building a more just and equitable future for all Arizonans.

4. Work with tribal nations to ensure that their history, culture and languages are preserved and promoted throughout Arizona.

I will stand with the tribes to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), which was enacted in 1978 to keep Native American children in the care of relatives whenever safe and possible, and work to ensure that families have the resources needed to adequately care for them. I will advocate for and support Native American studies in public schools on tribal lands, including the study of Native American languages – and return to the pre-“No Child Left Behind” practice of hiring the most qualified teachers to lead these courses, whether or not they have a college degree. I will also promote the inclusion of Native American history and culture in all public schools for all Arizona students. Native American history is Arizonan history, a history that all Arizona students should know.

5. Protect existing and seek new revenue streams to the tribes.

I will oppose any attempt to allow commercial gaming in Arizona and protect tribal gaming rights, work with the tribes to ensure equitable distribution of gaming revenues, and make sure that federal funds (including block grants) that come through the state of Arizona and are meant for the tribes actually go to the tribes. I will also partner with the AZ Commission on Indian Affairs and individual tribal councils to seek grant money and other new revenue sources to address tribal needs.

6. Stand with and advocate for the tribes whose members live on both sides of the border.

I will advocate for carve outs on immigration from the federal government for these tribes, stand with them against building more wall along the border, work actively to demilitarize our border communities, and demand that ICE and border patrol agents be held accountable for the use of excessive force, over-policing and when the human and civil rights of tribal members are violated.

7. Work with tribal leaders to create a plan that will help our state – in our role as partners, neighbors and friends – prioritize, address, resource and advocate for the most pressing issues they are facing. These issues include:

  • ensuring educational equity for public schools on tribal lands – and creating a pathway to debt-free post-high school education and training
  • improving and expanding access to quality and culturally-appropriate healthcare
  • improving and expanding the infrastructure, including running water, electricity, broadband, cellular coverage and roads
  • diversifying economic development, creating jobs and supporting Native-owned businesses
  • protecting environmental resources
  • resolving our water crisis
  • expanding voter rights
  • improving access to adequate housing
  • preventing and addressing domestic violence
  • improving veterans outreach and services
  • improving mental healthcare
  • improving addiction treatment and prevention programs
  • increasing resources for tribally controlled public safety

Learn more about Kelly's vision for Arizona.