Representatives Haaland, Young’s Legislation to Bolster Self-Governance, Empower Tribes Passes House, Goes to the President’s Desk

September 21, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S. 209, the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act. This legislation, sponsored in the House by Congressman Don Young (R-AK), Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM), and Congressman Ton Cole (R-OK), enhances the ability of tribes to enter into, and carry out, compacting agreements.  It also aligns the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) compacting approval process with the one currently used by the Indian Health Service (IHS) to improve consistency for tribes. These compacts are vital for upholding the federal government’s trust responsibilities with tribes and promoting self-governance and local control.  Alaska tribes have been at the forefront of implementing innovative DOI compacts for many years.  This legislation is supported by the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN), the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and individual tribes across the country.

“Tribes are always been their own best stewards, but the red tape that they face when implementing programs hinders their ability to do best by their own communities. Through the PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act, Tribes will now have the freedom and flexibility to be able to serve their people in a way that best fits their needs. This legislation is built on a decades-long effort of Tribal leaders and organizations to further our efforts to support true tribal self-governance to empower, and I’m honored to send this bill to the President’s desk with my colleagues Representatives Don Young and Tom Cole and Senators John Hoeven and Tom Udall,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland.

“The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975 (ISDEAA) is foundational legislation that empowered tribes with the authority to contract and compact federal trust services.  This has had a profound impact throughout Indian country as tribes are the best stewards of their health care, resources, and education. I am proud to have helped pass this legislation which builds on the success of ISDEAA by making practical policy improvements that help tribes enhance and expand their compacting opportunities,” said Congressman Don Young. “Under the bill, tribes will be better able to tailor self-governance programs to suit their needs, thereby increasing their effectiveness and efficiency. Passage of this bill marks not only a great day for bipartisan governance, but represents a long-overdue victory for Alaska Natives and Indigenous people across the country. 

I am very grateful to my friend Congresswoman Deb Haaland for her partnership on this bill, and want to extend my sincere appreciation to Chairman John Hoeven for shepherding this legislation through the Senate. I would also like to thank Chairman W. Ron Allen, of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and Chairman of the Board, Self-Governance Communication and Education Tribal Consortium, for his leadership and advocacy on this legislation. Though this bill is crucially important, our work to empower tribes across America is not done. As a Member of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of The United States and Vice Chair of the Native American Caucus, I will continue fighting to secure justice, equality, and opportunity for our First Peoples.”

“By giving local tribes control over federal programs operated in Indian Country, we are indeed giving back much deserved power to tribes,” said Congressman Tom Cole. “The PROGRESS Act would rightly eliminate inconsistencies of self-governance programs and thus streamline federal programs in a way that is specifically tailored to their needs. I am proud to see the passage of this important legislation.”

“Respect for Tribal sovereignty is at the heart of the federal government’s trust responsibility to American Indian and Alaska Native peoples,” said Rep. Ruben Gallego, Chair of the Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States. “The PROGRESS for Indian Tribes Act enhances Tribes’ ability to exercise that sovereignty, and I am proud to have worked with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to ensure this legislation will be signed into law this year.”

“After over 15 years of effort Tribes are delighted with the passage of the PROGRESS Act. This bipartisan legislation underscores Congress’ continuing commitment to the fundamental principles of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act: that Tribes across America are Self-Governing and Self-Reliant and that they are best situated to decide what types of services and how they are provided to Indians and Alaska Natives. Critically, this bipartisan legislation will assist the almost 400 Tribes that currently participate in the Self-Governance program to streamline and bring down the costs associated with the administration of programs. We especially want to thank Deb Haaland, Tom Cole and Don Young from the bottom of our hearts for the strong leadership they provided in the House on this important legislation,” said Chairman Ron Allen, Jamestown S’klallam Tribe and Chairman of the Board for the Self-Governance Communication and Education Tribal Consortium.