9.1 Indian Tribes

Created on: 
Oct 16 2018

Legal References:

The Indian Tribes section includes:

  • 9.1.1 Tribal Sovereignty
  • 9.1.2 Centennial Accord
  • 9.1.3 DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01
  • 9.1.4 Tribal Governments
  • 9.1.5 State Liaisons

WorkFirst staff consults and develops policy with Indian tribes as a WorkFirst partner - at the state, regional, and local level. As part of this partnership we:

  • Coordinate with tribes which run their own Tribal TANF program;
  • Collaborate with tribes to provide employment and training services; and
  • Develop additional participation activities for tribal members.

This section will describe key concepts that are important to understand when we work with Tribal Government representatives. The following section describes important principals we must be aware of when working with Tribal members.

9.1.1 Tribal Sovereignty

Indian tribes, as governments, occupy an important place in our federal governmental system. Different from a minority or racial classification, Indian tribes are separate and independent political entities. They are sovereign nations possessing inherent governmental authority and powers. For more information see Understanding the legal basis of working relationship with Indian tribes and tribal clients.

Tribes possess the right to form their own government, to make and enforce their own laws, to tax, to establish membership criteria, to license and regulate activities, to zone, and to exclude persons from tribal lands, independently from the neighboring state government.

9.1.2 Centennial Accord

The Centennial Accord recognizes and respects the sovereignty of the Tribes and calls for a government-to-government approach to dealing with the tribes. Governor Booth Gardner and the Tribal Chairs of most of the Washington tribes signed the Centennial Accord in 1989.

Accredited public and private technical colleges and schools, community and technical colleges, and tribal colleges offer approvable vocational programs. For TANF families, the case manager approves training. For Non-WorkFirst families, a community or technical college give approval, by confirming the vocational nature of the consumer's training plan.

Since 1989, each Governor has signed a Proclamation reaffirming the fundamental principles and integrity of government-to-government relations established by the Centennial Accord. The Proclamation directs state agencies to develop policy consistent with the principles stated in the Accord and asserts that the principles of the Accord shall guide Washington State 's policy in relations with the federally recognized tribal governments.

For more information about government-to-government relations and tribal sovereignty, Click here.

9.1.3 DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01

DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01 is the department's American Indian Policy. The policy outlines the state's commitment and a process for consulting with tribes and tribal organizations in the planning and delivery of services to Indian governments and communities.

DSHS agencies consult with Indian tribes and Indian organizations in the development of biennial service plans along with an updated report on the status of these plans. Policy 7.01 provides the opportunity for involvement and meaningful input in the department's plans, budgets, policies, manuals, and operational procedures affecting American Indian people. Biennial service plans and progress reports must be developed at headquarter and regional levels.

9.1.4 Tribal Governments

Tribes operate under their own governmental systems. Many tribes have executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. Many have adopted their own constitutions and some still have traditional systems of governments.

  • The chief executive of the tribe is called the tribal chairperson, similar to our governor or the president.
  • The chair presides over the governing body called the tribal council, which performs the legislative function and assumes those duties delegated by the general membership.
  • Most tribes require a referendum of the membership to enact laws and make changes to their constitution.

In Washington State there are twenty-nine (29) federally recognized tribes and several non-federally recognized tribes and Indian organizations. Washington ranks among the top ten states in terms of significant Indian population and significant reservation land base. Over 50% of tribal members still live on or near reservations.

9.1.5 State Liaisons

There are several state resources available to help state agency staff when they work with tribes.

  • The Governor's Office of Indian Affairs (GOIA), focuses on the Proclamations affirming the government-to-government relationship and principles identified in the Centennial Accord to promote and enhance tribal self-sufficiency. It also helps the state develop policies consistent with those principles.
  • The Office of Indian Policy (OIP) develops recommendations in conjunction with DSHS management, Tribal governments and Indian organizations to improve service delivery to Indian people. They also advocate, facilitate communication with tribes and ensure direct and timely access for tribal participation in the planning and development of service delivery.
  • The Community Services Division (CSD), Tribal Relations liaisons help ESA management and staff in working in partnership with Tribal Nations on a government-to-government basis. Tribal Relations liaisons helps ESA staff:
    • Improve state/tribal relations;
    • Promote a policy consultation process;
    • Meet our commitment to the Centennial Accord and DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01; and,
    • Bring about successful child support and TANF programs for Washington State Tribes.
  • You can contact CSD, DCS, and DSHS and Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) tribal liaisons for help on individual cases.

For more information on Tribes, GOIA, and OIP see the ESA Tribal Relations website.


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