July 8, 2011 -- The Turkish Coalition of America commends Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) on the introduction of the Indian Tribal Trade and Investment Act of 2011, H.R. 2362, which will facilitate Native American economic development by encouraging trade and investment relationships between Native American tribes and Turkish companies.
"Rep. Cole’s innovative legislation will bring new commercial activity to Native American tribes across the United States and further strengthen the exciting new relationship between Turkey and the Native American community," said TCA President G. Lincoln McCurdy.
The bill establishes a limited demonstration project that will authorize up to six tribes or tribal consortia to partner with Turkish companies to establish commercial ties without requiring federal government approval. Turkish companies' interest in working with Indian Country, coupled with their strengths in construction, uniquely positions them to help spur private-sector economic growth and create jobs. The activities authorized by the legislation would be funded by private sector entities, without any expenditure of federal funds.
Rep. Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, is the only enrolled member of an American Indian tribe in Congress. Rep. Cole co-chairs the Native American Caucus and is a member of the Turkish Caucus.
According to John Berrey, Chairman of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma (O-Gah-Pah), "the Turkish and Native American peoples are beginning to come together under their own momentum to develop broader and deeper economic and cultural ties. Today, there is a growing interest in learning about our respective histories and beliefs. This bill will help lay the groundwork for tribes to pursue long-term economic benefits while creating new global partnerships.”
For several years now, TCA has been supporting efforts to build bridges between the Native American and Turkish peoples. Beginning in 2008, TCA offered scholarships to Native American students interested in studying abroad in Turkey. Since then, TCA has worked with two of Turkey's leading institutions of higher education, Bahcesehir University and Istanbul Technical University, to develop their own scholarships for Native American students. ITU is also designing a program to advise tribal government officials about infrastructure issues on tribal lands. Another leading institution, Hacettepe University, has organized two Native American conferences in Ankara, cosponsored by TCA.
In November 2010, TCA organized and led the first Native American Business Cooperation Trip to Turkey, where 20 leaders from 17 tribes met with individuals including Turkish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoglu and Turkish Minister for Foreign Trade Zafer Caglayan. Then, in March 2011, TCA was instrumental in Turkish Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Cemalettin Damlaci’s participation at the Native American Reservation Economic Summit (RES) in Las Vegas, N.V.; where he was the first foreign government official to ever deliver remarks to attendees of a RES event.
“We are seeing a true partnership between the U.S. and Turkey emerge because of H.R.2362,” said McCurdy. “Our two nations are already working together in promoting democracy in the Middle East, but partnering to build sustainable economies in Indian Country will further enhance the relationship.”
A hearing on H.R.2362 is expected to occur in the coming weeks.
The full text of the bill can be reviewed here.