Senate Bill 69: Questions about changes in State, Tribal relations

You put a race-based thing and say, you know what, you can’t be tribal members and be on this because what you really want to have are non-tribal members, so th
Published: Jan. 22, 2023 at 11:16 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -On Monday, January 23rd, the Senate will discuss and likely vote on a bill affecting the relationship between the Tribes and the State of South Dakota.

SB 69 is titled: An act to modify the composition of the State-Tribal Relations Committee. The conversation among Legislators continues as the question is asked; what is best for the relationship between the State and Tribes?

Sponsor Senator Lee Schoenbeck brought forward the bill to bring it in line with other committees, where the proportions of those on the committee make up more Republicans than Democrats, as that is the current composition of the legislator.

Schoenbeck also suggests that it would be better for those without Tribal knowledge to be appointed in the future as a way for them to gain understanding. Finally, he made pointed comments about Native Americans on the committee, which raised concerns from several Senators.

“The best change would be, as if you, but you should ever do this. You put a race-based thing and say, you know what, you can’t be tribal members and be on this because what you really want to have are non-tribal members, so they learn about tribal issues,” said Shoenbeck.

Senator Reynold Nesibla disagrees.

“This committee exists for the purpose of improving tribal relations. And my understanding is that most of the tribes and tribal members that I have talked to are opposed to this bill,” said Nesiba.

The National Conference of State Legislatures recommends ways to build relationships with tribes. The Legislature is in alignment with hosting a State of the Tribes address and recognizing the culture, but the Legislature departs drastically from other State and Tribal committee suggestions:

Create a committee on state-tribal relations within the Legislature to serve as a forum for addressing tribal issues and developing effective legislation. The Legislature could invite tribal leaders to participate in the committee or sit on the committee as permanent members.

The N-C-S-L also recommends a guidebook be developed and given to each legislator. Currently, no documents are provided to Legislators in South Dakota to assist Tribal understanding.

Red Dawn Foster is opposed to the proposed changes with SB69. “When Legislators come from those districts that represent Tribes within their district, they bring a unique understanding,” said Foster.