Job Training Partnership Act:

Native American Status for American Samoans Appears Unwarranted

HRD-88-1: Published: Dec 3, 1987. Publicly Released: Dec 3, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on whether: (1) Congress should designate American Samoans as Native Americans under the Job Training Partnership Act; and (2) other ethnic groups qualified for such designation.

GAO found that no special trust relationship exists between the United States and American Samoans similar to that with American Indians, Alaskan natives, and Native Hawaiians, since the: (1) United States took no land from American Samoans without compensation; and (2) American Samoans do not inhabit a territory that was or will necessarily become a state. GAO also found that Samoans residing in the United States: (1) are an economically disadvantaged population, when compared with the entire U.S. population; and (2) have higher median family and household incomes, lower unemployment rates, and higher high school graduation rates than American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, and blacks. GAO noted that citing socioeconomic disadvantage and ethnic background as primary justifications for conferring Native American status would provide blacks and Puerto Ricans an equal or greater claim to Native American status than American Samoans. GAO believes that amending the act to include American Samoans as Native Americans: (1) would be analogous to amending the Native American Programs Act of 1974; and (2) could set a precedent for amending numerous other federal laws authorizing services to Native Americans.

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