From left: Pete Katsilometes (Office of the Governor), Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb, Chief Allan (Coeur d’Alene), Chairman Jim Guthrie, Vice Chairman Gary Aitken (Kootenai Tribe), Shannon Wheeler (Nez Perce), Nathan Small (Shoshone-Bannock). Not pictured Ted Howard (Shoshone-Paiute), Rep Paulette Jordan and Rep Neil Anderson. (Photo courtesy of SBT Office of Public Affairs)
Submitted by Tribal Public Affairs
BOISE — On July 19, Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small, Council member Ladd Edmo and Tribal Attorney Bill Bacon attended the Idaho Council on Indian Affairs committee meeting at the Idaho State Capitol in Boise.
The committee is comprised of four state legislators, one representative from the Governor’s Office and tribal leaders from the five tribes of Idaho. The committee convened at 9 a.m. and the session is available online to the public to watch on Idaho Public Television website www.legislature.idaho.gov.
The agenda included: updates on Public Law 280; report on state/tribal liaison, Montana Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs; update from the Idaho State Historical Society; an introduction of Oral Healthcare Access on Tribal Reservations from NW Portland Area Indian Health Board; an report on Public Law 280 retrocession from the University of Washington School of Law; a presentation by Yakama Nation Legislative Liaison on the perspective and experience with retrocession; collaborations between counties and tribes, and tribal flags inside the Idaho Capitol building.
Shoshone-Paiute Tribal Chairman Ted Howard began the meeting with a prayer. Introductions and election updates from each Tribal leader was given. A presentation by the Office of Performance Evaluations (OPE) discussed the study on retrocession of Public Law 280. Public Law 280 was adopted by the state of Idaho in 1963 and allows the state to assume concurrent jurisdiction on reservations in Idaho. All five Tribes of Idaho are affected by the states jurisdiction. According to the OPE study, “the shared jurisdiction complicates interactions and relationships among stakeholders working in Indian country. Retrocession is a complex issue with implications for public safety and intergovernmental cooperation. We identified several factors to consider should the [Idaho] Legislature decide to pursue retrocession.”
Public Law 280 includes the following areas of assumed jurisdiction: 1. Compulsory school attendance; 2. Juvenile delinquency & youth rehabilitation; 3. Dependent, neglect & abused children; 4. Insanities & mental illness; 5. Public assistance; 6. Domestic relations; and 7. Operation & management of motor vehicles upon highways and roads maintained by the county or state or political subdivisions thereof.
According to Tribal Attorney, Bill Bacon, “If Idaho retrocedes PL 280, funding for these areas of jurisdiction will go back to the federal government and will be up to the Tribes to pursue funding and services from the federal agencies versus the state.”
Four of Idaho’s neighboring states have retroceded all or part of their jurisdiction over reservations: Montana, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. According to Yakama Nation Legislative Liaison, they retroceded in 2016, in a process that took the Yakama Nation two years to complete. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes have continually opposed PL 280 from 1963, and have led the way in pushing three retrocession bills, with the last was in 1999; but none passed.
FHBC Chairman Small said, “The Council on Indian Affairs committee has not been effective in the past on taking action of our Tribal issues, but I feel today’s meeting was the best meeting we’ve had for years, and feel the retrocession of PL 280 will actually happen.”
Fort Hall Business Council, Tribal Attorneys, the Office of Public Affairs, and the Tribes state lobbyist, Strategies 360, will continue to diligently work on the retrocession of Public Law 280. To view the OPE 2017 report go to: www.legislature.idaho.gov/ope/