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Gov. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) has vetoed a bill that would have funded Lake County’s law enforcement services on the Flathead Reservation.
Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton reports.
The bill would have used state money to pay Lake County $5 million for providing law enforcement on the reservation.
County officials have argued residents can no longer afford to pay for those services.
Lake County, the state, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) entered into an agreement in the 1960s outlining that the county would provide law enforcement on the reservation.
Lake County commissioners earlier this year withdrew from the agreement, saying that the state is responsible for picking up the work later this year.
Gov. Gianforte wrote in his veto letter that when Lake County entered into the 1960 agreement, it “agreed to bear the corresponding costs for the benefit of its residents, both tribal and non-tribal.”
Gov. Gianforte also said the state isn’t responsible for funding law enforcement on the reservation and pointed out the county had opposed handing over law enforcement jurisdiction to CSKT in the past.
Tribal officials did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.
In Rapid City, S.D., Native leaders met with federal emergency response agencies, Bureau of Indian Affairs officials, and elected representatives to improve local disaster response strategies.
This comes after harsh storms froze South Dakota’s reservations all winter.
South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s C.J. Keene has more.
It was a winter sure to be remembered on the Rosebud Reservation near the Nebraska border, where infrastructure was tested by blizzard snowfall measured in the feet rather than inches.
U.S Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) spoke at the event.
He says this is an opportunity to establish connections before emergencies like that happen again.
“With regard to tribal trust land and land that is on the reservations, primary authority for law enforcement, for zoning and so forth lies with the tribe. You want to make sure that you’re communicating or coordinating with law enforcement. If you talk about it in advance before you have the emergency, then those individuals know one another, and they’re better able to respond when they know each other and they know whose responsibility it is, and they know where the resources are at.”
He says while the federal government wants to help tribes in these situations, there is an unavoidable sovereignty question.
“We all recognize there is a sovereignty among the tribes, but that sovereignty works fine until you need resources that the tribe does not have immediately on hand. That’s when you say okay, we have different levels of government, how do we work together so that we can provide the immediate assistance to the people that expect us to be able to help them.”
Frank Star Comes Out is the President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
He said he appreciates seeing first-hand efforts.
“The main thing is communication, the talks. We’re getting that out there, starting to organize, getting these resources from different government agencies to come out to Indian country, meet with us personally, and really take a look at how life is on our reservations.”
Among other groups, the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association, FEMA, and the BIA were present.
U.S. Sens Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and more than 20 of their colleagues have reintroduced the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding Schools Policies in the United States Act.
The legislation was first introduced in 2020 by then-U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo/D-NM).
It was then reintroduced in 2021 by U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids (Ho-Chunk/D-KS) and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (Chickasaw/R-OK).
The bill would establish a formal commission to investigate, document, and acknowledge the impacts of federal Indian boarding school policies on Native Americans.
The commission would also develop recommendations for Congress for healing efforts and to provide a forum for the sharing of personal experiences.
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