With Chairman of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Ron Trahan, in Washington D.C. recently, Senator Jon Tester took the opportunity to push his bipartisan bill to increase tribes' self-governance and self-determination.
Tester is backing the Tribal Self-Governance Act, a bill to streamline the Interior Department's process for approving tribes' self-governance compacts, making it easier for them to take over essential services and programs historically managed by the federal government. With CSKT's success under tribal self-governance, Tester helped bring Trahan to Washington to testify at a Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing about the bill.
Trahan said that CSKT supports Tester's bill. "My tribe has a long history with the self-governance contracts. Our late chairman Mickey Pablo was a tireless advocate for the self-governance laws," Trahan said. "It does my heart good to report our tribes have thrived under the laws he helped enact."
Tester, Montana's only member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, thanked Chairman Trahan for coming to Washington to testify and said his bill will help more tribes achieve success like CSKT.
"The bottom line is self-governance works and CSKT is a shining example of this," Tester said. "Our Senate bill will mean more tribes can follow CSKT's example. I am looking forward to moving this important legislation forward -- it's in the best interest of Indian Country, and it's in the best interest of the Federal Government."
CSKT provides the local community with more than 1,000 jobs, making the tribe the largest employer in northwestern Montana. CSKT contributes over $137 million each year to Montana's economy.
Tester, who visits every Montana reservation each year, recently called on President Obama to meet the federal government's trust obligations and provide needed support for Indian Country as the government works on its budget proposal.