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. Senator Tina Smith Applauds Passage of Key Tribal Priorities From Mental Health Care to Homeownership in Government Funding Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. [1/13/23] — U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) applauded the bipartisan government funding bill, which includes a number of key Tribal provisions she has authored or championed. The Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which was signed into law by President Biden two weeks ago, will take important steps to help Native families achieve homeownership, provide culturally competent mental and behavioral health services, and provide adequate funding for the Indian Health Service. “This bill is a historic investment in hard working families in Minnesota and across this country,” said Sen. Smith. “It gives us the tools to make significant progress on upholding our commitments to Tribal Nations, lowering health care costs, tackling the mental health crisis, and more. I was proud to vote yes on a bill that will give Minnesota, and our country, needed resources to build a stronger future.” The Omnibus Appropriations Bill includes many key provisions authored or championed by Sen. Smith. These new laws will: Establish grants for Tribal governments, Tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, and Tribal health programs to receive funds for culturally-competent mental and behavioral health services for Native Americans. Provide parity for Tribal courts in splitting retirement plan assets in divorce proceedings. Advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service through 2024. Help Native families living in rural areas achieve homeownership through provisions from Senator Smith’s bipartisan Native American Rural Homeownership Act. The Omnibus Appropriations Bill also includes many other important provisions supported by Sen. Smith such as the Electoral Count Reform Act, support for the people

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Federal Funding for Projects Benefiting Twin Cities and Surrounding Areas

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that they have secured significant federal funding in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 federal budget to support local projects benefiting the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. These projects will bolster the region’s infrastructure, help expand health care access and upgrade health care facilities, address affordable housing needs, and improve public safety.  “From making infrastructure improvements to expanding access to health care and affordable housing, these projects will help address key issues impacting Minnesotans on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with local leaders to secure these funding commitments, and I know that these resources will make a real difference for so many communities across the Twin Cities and surrounding areas,” said Klobuchar.  “The best ideas come from the people living in communities across Minnesota. One of the best parts of my job is helping Minnesotan communities turn their dream projects into reality with federal support,” said Smith. “Health care, housing, education, and infrastructure all have daily impacts on the lives of Minnesotans. I’m proud of our work to secure these investments that will be transformational for people across our state.” Klobuchar and Smith have secured federal investments to further the following priorities: Bolstering infrastructure and community development: $7 million to replace the Eastbound Kellogg Boulevard Bridge in St. Paul with a new bridge system that includes multi-modal safety and access improvements; $5.04 million for Dakota County to design and reconstruct the I-35 and County Highway 50 Interchange; $5

U.S. Senators Smith and Lankford Introduce Legislation to Create Parity Within the Indian Health Care System

WASHINGTON, D.C. [07/12/22] – U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) introduced bipartisan legislation that would help achieve parity within the Indian Health System. The Urban Indian Health Confer Act will amend the Indian Health Care Improvement Act to require the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to confer with urban Indian organizations regarding health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) living in urban areas – a critical step that will create parity within the Indian Health System. “American Indian and Alaska Native people living in urban areas deserve an active voice in the policies that affect them,” said

U.S. Senator Tina Smith Leads U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Field Hearing on Infrastructure in Tribal Nations in Prior Lake

MINNESOTA — U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) chaired a productive field hearing for the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, focusing on how Tribal Nations can utilize funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Senator Smith helped pass this historic investment in our country’s infrastructure last fall. The hearing was hosted by Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community at the Mystic Lake Center in Prior Lake. Click here to access photos from the hearing. A video of the hearing will become available here. “I was so excited to bring this field hearing to Minnesota to take a firsthand look at how the work we do in Washington can have

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Federal Funding to Boost Tribal Entrepreneurship at Mille Lacs Band

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) has awarded $3.1 million in federal funding for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Onamia, Minnesota to boost tribal entrepreneurship. Specifically, the funding, provided through the American Rescue Plan’s Indigenous Communities program, will enable the construction of a tribal business incubator to help small businesses and start-ups access technical assistance they need to increase and expand their operations. “This federal funding will make a real difference for the Mille Lacs Band Reservation, helping establish a business incubator that will boost small

U.S. Sen. Tina Smith Announces Largest Ever Investment in Key Native Housing Program

WASHINGTON [5.12.22] — Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) – chair of the Senate’s Housing Subcommittee – announced Minnesota Tribes will receive the largest ever housing investment as part of a key federal program dedicated to improving housing on Native land. The $23 million in funding for Minnesota Tribes represents a more than $4 million increase from last year, which Sen. Smith had pushed for. “If you don’t have a safe, stable, affordable place to live, nothing else in your life works,” said Sen. Smith. “I’ve had the great privilege of visiting and meeting with Tribal leaders from Minnesota and heard firsthand how the affordable housing crisis impacts their

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