Thursday, April 2, 2009

New Mexico State-Tribal Collaboration Act at the End of March

New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Signs Act Seeking to Strengthen State-Native American Collaboration.

Act seeks to promote, strengthen relationship between state and tribes

Governor Bill Richardson on March 19 signed the long-awaited State-Tribal Collaboration Act at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. The governor was joined by Indian Affairs Secretary Alvin Warren and tribal leaders from around the state.

"The State-Tribal Collaboration Act will promote and strengthen the relationship between the state and the 22 sovereign tribes and pueblos here in New Mexico," Gov. Richardson said. "I am pleased to sign this landmark bill, which further expands my commitment to our Native American communities, provides greater consistency across all cabinet-level agencies in working with tribes, and ensures that productive state-tribal relations remain a priority into the future."

Senate Bill 196, sponsored by Sen. John Pinto, enhances government-to-government communication and collaboration between the state and tribal governments. The Act requires cabinet-level agencies to develop policies that promote communication and cooperation between the state and tribal governments and ensures that each of the 34 Executive agencies permanently designates a tribal liaison. It also provides for an annual state-tribal summit, training to state agency managers and employees who have ongoing communication with the tribes and an annual report that accounts for each Executive agency's activities pursuant to the Act. Read more about SB 196 here.

This bill, although at the State level, reinforces the Executive Order signed by President Clinton in 1998: Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments.

The United States has a unique legal relationship with Indian tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive orders, and court decisions. Since the formation of the Union, the United States has recognized Indian tribes as domestic dependent nations under its protection. In treaties, our Nation has guaranteed the right of Indian tribes to self-government. As domestic dependent nations, Indian tribes exercise inherent sovereign powers over their members and territory. The United States continues to work with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis to address issues concerning Indian tribal self-government, trust resources, and Indian tribal treaty and other rights.

Therefore, by the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with Indian tribal governments in the development of regulatory practices on Federal matters that significantly or uniquely affect their communities; to reduce the imposition of unfunded mandates upon Indian tribal governments; and to streamline the application process for and increase the availability of waivers to Indian tribal governments; it is hereby ordered as follows: read the rest of Executive Order 13084 here.

What other acts or laws have been passed that designate official collaboration and cooperation between state or federal agencies and Native American Indians? Please leave a comment if you have thoughts to contribute.

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