Today U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, introduced the bi-partisan Department of the Interior Tribal Self-Governance Act of 2012 (S.3685).
"Self-determination and self-governance policy has proven to be the most effective federal policy to empower Native communities," said Chairman Akaka. "Studies show that self-determination policies have enabled Indian tribes to build strong economies, reverse decades of language loss, and tailor programs and services to better meet the needs of their people and it is our responsibility to ensure that our policy of self-governance advances to meet the needs of Native peoples. However, self-governance programs are being obstructed by a bureaucratic maze.
"As Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, it has come to my attention through tribal consultation and testimony at our hearing on self-determination and self-governance, that technical changes are needed to the underlying law to ensure the goals of the past 30 years of federal Indian policy are realized."
S. 3685 would amend the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and streamline the self-governance process, making it easier and more efficient for tribes to operate programs available to them.
"This bill provides key improvements to the way self-governance works in the Department of the Interior--improvements that have been studied, evaluated, discussed, and negotiated by the tribes and by the Department of the Interior," said Vice Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), who is a co-sponsor of the bill. "I look forward to working closely with Chairman Akaka to move this piece of legislation forward."