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

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

Senator Smith, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill Giving Tribal Colleges and Universities a Stronger Voice in Education Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), along with U.S. Senators Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jon Tester (D-Mon.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), introduced bipartisan legislation – the National Advisory Council on Indian Education Improvement Act – aimed at giving Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) greater input over federal funding and policymaking that impacts them. “Minnesota’s Tribal Colleges are important institutions that serve Native and non-Native students alike in some of the most impoverished and geographically isolated regions of the country,” said Smith. “These institutions deserve a seat at the table when federal agencies make decisions that impact them. I’m proud of this bipartisan effort to support TCUs and their students and look forward to getting this bill across the finish line.” “The 35 accredited Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in the U.S., which together form the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, commend Senators Fischer and Tester for their leadership in introducing this important legislation. The National Advisory Council on Indian Education Act will ensure Tribal College and University voices are included and supported throughout the council’s work, thereby strengthening the K-16 pathway for American Indian and Alaska Native students. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this much needed legislation,”said Carrie L. Billy, President and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium. The National Advisory Council on Indian Education (NACIE) advises the Secretaries of Education and Interior on programs serving Native students of all ages. NACIE releases an annual report, but neither Department has a process for considering NACIE’s

Klobuchar, Smith Secure Significant Federal Funding to Expand College Access for American Indian and Alaska Native Students

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) secured $500,000 in federal funding to expand a program at Saint Paul College focused on providing academic and social support to American Indian and Alaska Native students.  Specifically, the funding will help grow the Four Directions Pathway program at Saint Paul College. The program is designed to promote college access and success for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) students through a culturally relevant lens. In 2020, AI/AN communities in Minnesota saw a degree attainment rate of 27.5%, a figure well below the state’s 70% attainment goal. Improving access to

U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith Secure $4+ Million for Tribal Nations

WASHINGTON, D.C. [04/06/22]—U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that they have secured $4,199,000 for Minnesota Tribal Nations. These funds will support the communities of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, and Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. “This federal funding will have a real impact for Minnesota’s Tribal Nations. From supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs to strengthening public safety infrastructure and increasing energy efficiency, these projects will address key issues impacting our Native communities on a daily basis. I am proud to have worked with Tribal leaders

Sen. Smith’s Bipartisan Bill to Help Tribes Pursue Justice for Crimes of Sexual Violence Signed Into Law

WASHINGTON [03/24/22]—U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.)—a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee—announced that her bipartisan legislation, which will restore Tribal criminal jurisdiction over crimes of sexual violence committed by non-Native offenders on Tribal lands, was signed into law. According to the National Institute of Justice, over half of all Native American women—56 percent—and more than one in four Native men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes. And among those, almost all—96 percent of women and 89 percent of men—were victimized by a non-Native offender. Yet, few survivors ever see justice. The Justice for Native Survivors of Sexual Violence

Sen. Tina Smith Introduces Legislation to Ensure Accurate, Thorough Education about Native Peoples

WASHINGTON [3.24.22] – U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.) announced that she has introduced significant legislation to improve public education and understanding about Native peoples and their histories. Accurate, thorough education about Native peoples benefits all students, Native and non-Native alike. Unfortunately, the education most students receive regarding Native histories and cultures is woefully inadequate. For example, nearly half of Americans say that what they were taught in schools about Native Americans was inaccurate and in most K-12 classrooms, students are not taught about Native peoples at all post-1900. Furthermore, teachers rate “history of Native American peoples” and “pre-Columbian American history

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