Tribal Self-Governance Mission
“The self-governance concept provides our Tribe the flexibility to restructure our programs and address Tribal priorities and needs. Through Self-Governance the Tribe is able to re-design programs to meet Tribally specific needs without diminishing the United States’ trust responsibility to Indian peoples and Tribes.”
Self-Governance is now a
permanent reality for many Tribes
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe
has emerged as a national leader in successfully implementing and
promoting Self-Governance. On October 25, 1994, the "Tribal
Self-Governance Act of 1994" (Public Law 103-413) was passed and
signed into law by President Clinton. On August 18, 2000, President
Clinton signed the “Tribal Self-Governance Amendments of 2000"
(Public Law 106-260) which creates a permanent Self-Governance
program within the Department of Health & Human Services. This law
promotes self-determination and the government-to-government
relationship while addressing many issues that have frustrated
Tribal leaders during the implementation of the permanent
self-governance program within the Department of Interior. The
passage of these bills secure Self-Governance as a permanent way for
Tribes to do business if they so choose, and is considered a real
victory for Tribes.
2008 marked the 20th anniversary of the Self-Governance
initiative. In celebration, a recent video entitled
"Self-Governance-The Next Chapter" was filmed to showcase Tribal
successes. This 15-minute video includes interviews with Tribal
leaders and highlights several Tribes, including the Jamestown
The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe has been
actively involved in the Self-Governance initiative since its
inception in 1988. For those not familiar with this concept, a
commonly asked question is....
“What is Self-Governance and what does it mean to the Tribe?"
Tribal Self-Governance is premised on the government-to-government
relationship that exists between Indian Tribes and the United States
as sovereign nations. Indian Tribes have always been recognized as
independent sovereign nations with the authority to conduct their
affairs under their inherent powers. In 1988, Congress authorized a
demonstration project called Self-Governance which allowed for many
programs and services formally administered by the Bureau of Indian
Affairs (BIA) to be transferred to the Tribes themselves. The
Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe was one of the first seven Tribes in the
nation to participate in this project.
Tribal Programs and Services
Funding that is annually negotiated and received through
Self-Governance is used to support numerous Tribal programs and
activities. Some of these services include tuition and books for
educational purposes; housing; cultural enhancement (such as the
Summer Culture Program); natural resources and harvest management;
enrollment; water resources planning; aquaculture planning and other
business development activities; to name just a few! In January
1994, the Tribe extended Self-Governance to include programs and
services provided by the Indian Health Service (IHS), such as mental
health, alcohol and substance abuse, and community health nursing.
In 1995, the Tribe began implementation of a managed care health
program. The plan that has been developed by the Tribe is a new and
innovative approach to providing health care for Indian people and
has been used as model for other Tribes in the nation.
Self-Governance is designed to meet the needs of the Jamestown
The key to this success is that, under Self-Governance, the Tribe is
provided maximum flexibility in meeting the needs of the Tribal
community and can redesign programs and funding to meet those needs
which the Tribe has determined are its priorities. It has also
strengthened the Tribal government and operations by making the
Tribal Council accountable for these funds rather than a
governmental agency such as the BIA or the IHS.
Increasing Interest and Growth in Self-Governance
On a national level, there are over 330 Tribes and Tribal
organizations, all with diverse geographic conditions and varying
governmental structures, currently participating in Self-Governance.
These participants include several other Tribes in Western
Washington (Lower Elwha S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam, Lummi
Indian Nation, Quinault Indian Nation, Squaxin Island Tribe, Makah
Tribe, and the Swinomish Tribe), as well as larger Tribes such as
the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and smaller Tribes located in remote
regions of Alaska. And the interest in Self-Governance by other
Tribes who would like to participate is continuing to increase.
In conclusion, Self-Governance has strengthened the Jamestown
S'Klallam Tribe as a governmental entity and has provided the
leverage for the Tribe to move into the future in a progressive,
strong, and self-reliant manner. Self-Governance continues to be a
challenging and exciting opportunity for the Tribe to exercise its
governing powers under this "new way of doing business."
For further information regarding national self-Governance issues,
Jennifer A. McLaughlin, Esq., J.D., LL.M
Self-Governance Legislative Associate
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
1033 Old Blyn Hwy
Sequim, WA 98382
please visit the Tribal Self-Governance Communication and Education