|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||Thu, 13 Oct 1994 23:42:57 -0700 (PDT)|
NATIVE SOVEREIGNTY Congress has taken a major step in this year's Defense Authorization bill by recognizing the sovereign authority of Indian tribes to oversee Department of Defense environmental cleanup activities. Section 322 allows the Secretary of Defense to enter into agreements, similar to existing Defense State Memoranda of Agreement (DSMOA's), in which Indian regulatory agencies would participate in the environmental restoration process. DSMOA's typically provide cost reimbursement, a critical factor for Indian nations, which generally do not have the resources to operate environmental agencies. The U.S. government thus recognizes Indian authority, not only on Indian reservations, but on other lands impacting Indian nations. There is precedent for such arrangements. Indian tribes near nuclear weapons plants, such as the Nez-Perce and Santa Fe Pueblo, have negotiated agreements with the Energy Department. The timing of this provision fits well with other programs. Later this year the Administration for Native Americans, a branch of the Department of Health and Human Services, will award $8 million in technical assistance grants to Indian tribes and Alaska natives to develop programs to oversee Department of Defense environmental activities. Implementation of this provision will not only give Native Americans a say in cleanup goals, remedy selection, and priority-setting. It strengthens their long asserted but, just as long, ignored government-to-government relationship with the United States. This article is reprinted from the September, 1994 edition of the CITIZENS REPORT ON THE MILITARY AND THE ENVIRONMENT. For more information, or to be place on the mailing list, contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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