Bill Needs Signature of President to become Law

Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


A bill to give greater control to tribal communities, that has passed congress and the senate, now requires the signature of the President of the United States. The “Progress for Indian Tribes Act,” is a bill meant to bolster self-governance and self-determination, is closer to becoming law. 


Earlier this year, a bill was introduced by New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland, to enforce government-to-government relations between the federal government and tribal communities. The impetus of the bill is to give more authority to tribal governments to receive and distribute funds according to their interests. 


“Self-governance has been extraordinary beneficial for tribes to manage successful program with the flexibility to utilize federal funds in a way that best fits the needs of their communities,” said Haaland. 


In the past, tribes would have to follow a strict process, that limited their options when seeking funding for initiatives meant to advance the well-being of the people. This allows tribes to seek funding through other agencies of the Department of Interior, then through entities like the Bureau of Indian Affairs affiliated programs. 


The bill includes funding agreements for education programs, construction projects and management of natural resources, among a host of other provisions to give greater power to tribes on how they manage their communities. 


“In order to meaningfully address issues important to Indian Country, we must emphasize tribal sovereignty and self-determination,” said Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego, Chairman of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples. He said the legislation is important, because it allows tribes to streamline the process and promote self-governance within tribal nations. 


Included in the bill are provisions to prevent the DOI from imposing unauthorized terminology, not originally expressed in tribal compact/contract agreements, establishes clear processes and time lines for contracts and specifies construction oversight roles. 


Now that the bill has passed the house of representatives, it awaits the signature of the President to pass into law. “Under the bill, tribes will be better able tailor self-governance programs to suit their needs,” said Alaska Rep. Don Young, who contributed to the bill’s introduction into  congress.