Indian Affairs

Sen. Smith is proud to represent and advocate for the seven Ojibwe tribes, the four Dakota tribes, and the vibrant urban indigenous community in Minnesota.

When Senator Smith first joined the Senate, she asked to serve on the Indian Affairs Committee because she’s heard time and time again from leaders in Indian Country who are frustrated that policy decisions are being made without bringing tribes to the table. There are tremendous needs in Indian Country, and Sen. Smith understands that leaders in Indian Country often have answers for how the federal government can step up and fulfill its trust responsibility to tribal communities.

Sen. Smith wants to make sure programs in Indian Country or that directly impact tribes from energy and economy development to health and education are adequately supported. She believes we need to address the effects of the opioid crisis on tribal communities, especially on mothers and children. We need to address the lack of housing in Indian Country, which makes it harder to attract teachers, law enforcement officers, and health care workers that reservations need.

Sen. Smith believes we also need to give tribes the tools to develop their workforce and attract business and investment, while also investing in basic infrastructure like roads and broadband.

Latest Releases

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar Announce Clean Energy Support for Three Minnesota Tribes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (both D-Minn.) announced federal funding to connect Tribal homes to clean electricity, including homes previously not connected to electricity at all. Minnesota Tribes selected for funding include Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Lake Nation and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. The grants are made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which Senators Smith and Klobuchar both supported. “For generations, Native communities have been hurt by underinvestment and underfunding of basic infrastructure. Our transition to a clean energy economy can’t leave Indian Country behind,” said Senator Smith. “This funding gets us closer to ensuring every household in Minnesota, including on Tribal lands, have access to clean electricity.” “This federal grant will deliver critical clean energy infrastructure improvements,” said Senator Klobuchar.“Investments into clean electricity are vital for securing the power grid in Tribal communities and bolstering the transition to renewable energy.” “This investment in Indian Country and, specifically, the Prairie Island Indian Community, will literally help create a brighter future for our people,” said Prairie Island Tribal Council President Grant Johnson. “Achieving energy sovereignty while eliminating or offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions on Prairie Island is the goal of our net zero program. This grant will allow us to make electrification improvements to our members’ home and involve them more directly in our efforts to change our energy narrative and achieve our net zero goal.” “We are excited and honored to have received the funding from the Biden-Harris Administration America Agenda to Electrify Homes Across Indian Country with Clean Energy. This funding will assist us in the implementation capacity

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Chris Murphy and Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán Introduce Legislation to Improve Conditions Exacerbating Health Inequities Among Black, Brown, Indigenous and People of Color

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Representative Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.-44) introduced legislation to study and address how social, environmental, and economic conditions exacerbate health inequities in Black, Brown, Indigenous, and people of color. These conditions, known as social determinants of health (SDOH), are the result of institutional racism embedded in our society including in housing, employment, education, health care and more. While it’s often believed that good health is only due to medical care, one estimate found that clinical treatment accounts for only 10 to 20 percent of an individual’s overall health. Meanwhile, around 80 to 90 percent of healthy outcomes are driven by social determinants. “For many Black, Brown, Indigenous and people of color, health outcomes like chronic disease and overall longevity are determined by factors out of their control, often rooted in institutional racism and lasting inequities. Supporting healthy families and communities means more than just access tomedical care – it’s also having a safe place to call home, jobs, adequate food and more,” said Senator Smith. “This legislation will help us chart a better path forward to rectify historical injustices and ensure everyone has the chance to live a healthy life.” “When you don’t have a safe, stable place to live, or you can’t find affordable, nutritious food in your neighborhood, you’re more likely to develop chronic health issues that cost you thousands in medical bills. These structural inequities disproportionately impact communities of color and can have really devastating consequences for peoples’ health. I’m glad to team up with Senator Smith on this legislation to make a worthwhile investment in helping communities create healthy environments and improve long-term health outcomes,” said

Senators Smith, Lummis Seek Key Clarifications to Address Native American and Rural Homelessness, Overcrowding

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) sent a letter to Secretary Marcia Fudge urging the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help address homelessness in Native and rural communities and to provide clarity on the federal definition of homelessness. The Senators are the Chair and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development. The letter follows a bipartisan hearing led by Smith and Lummis on the  “State of Native American Housing” where witnesses described the severe homelessness and overcrowding issues facing rural and Native American communities.  “The stories we

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to Promote Tribal Self-Governance for Federal Food Assistance Program

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Mike Rounds (R-SD) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to give Tribes in Minnesota and across the country more control over how a key federal hunger program is administered in their communities. The SNAP Tribal Food Sovereignty Act would give Tribal governments a more active role in the administration of the USDA’s vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (commonly known as SNAP). The bill would help make sure SNAP is administered in a culturally-appropriate way that promotes the health and economic well-being of Tribal communities. Federal programs to combat hunger like SNAP are important to Tribal

U.S. Senators Tina Smith, John Hoeven Introduce Legislation to Improve Key Native American Food Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.26.23] – This week, U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation to make the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) work better for Tribal communities. FDPIR provides food assistance for income-eligible Native households. In 2018, the Farm Bill reauthorization created a pilot program to allow self-governance contracting for procurement within FDPIR. The bipartisan FDPIR Tribal Food Sovereignty Act expands and makes that pilot program permanent. If enacted, the bill would allow Tribal governments to administer FDPIR for their community. “Every Native American community should have access to nutritious and culturally specific food,”

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Announces Senate Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve Housing, Health Care and Self-Governance in Native Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. [7.20.23] – This week, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), announced three pieces of her bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing key issues in Native communities passed the Senate. The bills would improve health care for urban Indigenous communities, strengthen self-governance agreements, and help increase homeownership in Native communities. All three pieces of legislation will now move to the House of Representatives for a vote. “Whenever I meet with Native leaders, three of the top issues I hear about are inadequate housing and health care and the importance of self-governance,” said Smith. “I worked with my Republican colleagues to introduce

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