Hoeven: Enhancing Tribal Self-Governance Builds Strong Tribal Communities

Senator Convenes Hearing to Highlight Successes in Tribal Self-Governance, Discuss Improvements for Future

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, today convened an oversight hearing titled “The 30th Anniversary of Tribal Self-Governance: Successes in Self-Governance and an Outlook for the Next 30 Years.” The hearing featured testimony from tribal leaders who discussed the progress that has been made through effective self-governance and provided recommendations for improving the program.

The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, as amended, has provided Indian tribes with greater opportunity to exercise self-determination through local, tribal administration and delivery of federal Indian programs and services. Approximately 360 federally recognized tribes currently participate in self-governance programs both at the Department of the Interior and at the Indian Health Service within the Department of Health and Human Services. Tribal leaders have long indicated that continued improvements to the law would further reduce bureaucracy, facilitate greater self-governance and expand tribes’ ability to tailor federal programs to meet the needs of their communities. 

“Today’s hearing commemorates the 30th anniversary of the enactment of one of the most successful laws in Indian history – the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act Amendments of 1988,” said Hoeven. “This act, passed by Congress in 1988, was the result of critical input and leadership from tribes across our country, and marked a significant turning point in tribal self-governance… Today we heard about this history of self-governance, its contributions to Indian Country, and how this program can be improved to best help tribes chart their own course.”

Hoeven also highlighted bipartisan legislation he recently introduced alongside Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) to amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and promote stronger tribal self-governance. The PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act (S. 2515) incorporates many tribal recommendations to improve the law and bring greater certainty to the self-governance process. The bill would enhance tribal administration of federal programs and provide clearer guidelines for negotiating and finalizing compacts between tribes and the Secretary of the Interior. The bill was favorably reported by the committee on April 11, 2018. 

For witness testimony and video of the hearing click here