Tribal leaders and self-governance professionals from across the country met for a strategy session September 10–12 at the Band’s DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in St. Paul.
The Self-Governance Communication & Education (SGCE) Tribal Consortium facilitated the conference, which was tai- lored to current and future self-governance professionals, technical staff, and others with an interest in understanding how tribal self-governance best thrives.
Mille Lacs Band Self-Governance Director John Mojica is on the board of directors of SGCE and represented the Band at the conference. Secretary-Treasurer Sheldon Boyd also attrended. The Mille Lacs Band was one of seven original self-governance tribes recognized at the 2018 Tribal Self Gov- ernance Conference April 22–26 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Conference attendees discussed implementation, day-to-day operations, and best practices while identifying shared challenges and building relationships with peers.
What is self-governance?
“Self-governance” refers to tribal administration of programs previously under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. According to SGCE, in 1975, Congress enacted the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) to establish a legal framework for tribes to exercise their inherent right to govern and to protect tribal citizens, lands, and resources.
In 1988, Congress first amended ISDEAA to allow tribes to assume responsibility for administering programs, services, functions, and activities (PSFAs) that were previously managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI) through the Self-Gover- nance project. The law was amended again in 1994 and 2000 to expand, and permanently authorize the program to the Indian Health Service (IHS). Today, more than 350 tribes operate self-governance programs.
Tribute to McCain
The event kicked off with a tribute to the late Senator John McCain who was called by SGCE Chairman W. Ron Allen “a person of integrity who believed in the tribes’ sovereignty, self-governance, and self-reliance goals that will be forever remembered.”
“As one of the founding sponsors of the self-governance legislation,” Allen said, “Senator McCain withheld permanent self-governance legislation until he had consulted with tribes in order to ensure that tribal interests were adequately met. His leadership, courage, and integrity will be greatly missed.
For more information on self-governance and SGCE, see tribalselfgov.org.