This bill would amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act to streamline the self-governance process for Indian tribes that would like to take on some of the responsibilities held by the federal government for themselves. It would grant Indian tribes greater responsibility in overseeing grant programs administered by the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The Secretary of the Interior would directed to establish a program to be known as the “Tribal Self-Governance Program’. This program would be able to select up to 50 new Indian tribes per year to participate in self-governance, and multiple eligible tribes have the option of applying jointly as a single tribe for the purpose of participating in the program.
Participation in the ‘Tribal Self-Governance Program’ requires tribes to demonstrate financial stability over the preceding three years. As part of the planning process, eligible tribes must conduct legal and budgetary research, while undergoing internal planning, training, and organizational preparation for the internal tribal government.
The Department of the Interior would be directed to negotiate a compact with self-governing Indian tribes that is consistent with the federal government’s responsibility as a trustee, treaty obligations, and government-to-government relationships between Indian tribes and the U.S.
This bill would also give self-governing Indian tribes the choice of assuming some of the federal government’s responsibilities under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as they relate to construction programs on tribal lands.