Cover Story

Salt River Traditional Dancers perform for the participants of the Self-Governance conference at the Culture night.

Self-Governance Annual Conference Held in Salt River

By Tasha Silverhorn
Au-Authm Action News

One of the first major conferences hosted at Talking Stick Resort turned out to be one of great significance to Indian Country: the 2010 Annual Tribal Self-Governance Conference.

From May 2 to May 6, conference participants discussed a variety of topics affecting Native American tribes all around the United States. On the first day, a preliminary Self-Governance Training Session was open to all conference participants. Representatives from Self-Governance Tribal Leadership, Self-Governance Communication and Education staff, the Indian Health Service (IHS) Office of Tribal Self-Governance (OTSG) and the Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Self-Governance (OSG) provided participants with firsthand experience and knowledge about transitioning into Self-Governance.

The youth from the Salt River Young River People's Council had the opportunity to participate in the training. "They heard from different tribes on the process, requirements and responsibilities under Self-Governance compacting," said Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Youth Development Specialist Anita Rivers. "Tribes that are still learning about Self-Governance had many questions for the tribes who are already Self-Governance tribes. Networking was the key to the beginning of the process."

The actual conference kicked off the next day with opening ceremonies that included the SRPMIC Bushmasters American Legion Post 114. Community elder and former SRPMIC Vice-President Alfretta Antone gave the invocation, and SRPMIC President Diane Enos gave the welcoming address.

The conference touched on topics such as reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, the Cobell Settlement, Indian Reservation Roads (IRR), reauthorization of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Trust, and more.

The Cobell Settlement Discussion centered around the $3.4 billion settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar litigation made in December 2009. The settlement requires approval by Congress, and once it is approved, all those with an Individual Indian Monies (IIM) account will receive up to $1,500.

Indian Reservation Roads (IRR) and SAFETEA-LU Reauthorization focused on how the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU affects Self-Governance funding agreements for programs, functions, services and activities involving roads on Indian reservations.

On Tuesday, May 4, the Community hosted a Culture Night for the conference participants. The night was filled with museum and cultural exhibits and displays, a crafts sale, a traditional feast, and dances by Community dance groups and cultural groups from surrounding Indian communities.

The conference ended on May 6, and according to SRPMIC Self-Governance Coordinator Robert Scabby, this was one of the best-attended Self-Governance Conferences that he has seen. Scabby also mentioned that he heard many positive comments about the entire event, including the location at Talking Stick Resort and the welcome provided to the conference guests by the Community.

The annual Tribal Self-Governance Conference is sponsored by Self-Governance Tribes, the Department of Health & Human Services-Indian Health Service, and the Department of the Interior-Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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