WorkFirst HandBook

Indian Tribes and Tribal Organizations

9.1 Indian Tribes

Legal References:

The Indian Tribes section includes:

WorkFirst staff consults and develops policy with Indian tribes as a WorkFirst partner - at the state, regional, and local level. As part of this partnership we:

This section will describe key concepts that are important to understand when we work with Tribal Government representatives. The following section describes important principals we must be aware of when working with Tribal members.

9.1.1 Tribal Sovereignty

Indian tribes, as governments, occupy an important place in our federal governmental system. Different from a minority or racial classification, Indian tribes are separate and independent political entities. They are sovereign nations possessing inherent governmental authority and powers. For more information see Understanding the legal basis of working relationship with Indian tribes and tribal clients.

Tribes possess the right to form their own government, to make and enforce their own laws, to tax, to establish membership criteria, to license and regulate activities, to zone, and to exclude persons from tribal lands, independently from the neighboring state government.

9.1.2 Centennial Accord

The Centennial Accord recognizes and respects the sovereignty of the Tribes and calls for a government-to-government approach to dealing with the tribes. Governor Booth Gardner and the Tribal Chairs of most of the Washington tribes signed the Centennial Accord in1989.

Accredited public and private technical colleges and schools, community and technical colleges, and tribal colleges offer approvable vocational programs. For TANF families, the case manager approves training. For Non-WorkFirst families, a community or technical college give approval, by confirming the vocational nature of the consumer's training plan.

Since 1989, each Governor has signed a Proclamation reaffirming the fundamental principles and integrity of government-to-government relations established by the Centennial Accord. The Proclamation directs state agencies to develop policy consistent with the principles stated in the Accord and asserts that the principles of the Accord shall guide Washington State 's policy in relations with the federally recognized tribal governments.

For more information about government-to-government relations and tribal sovereignty, Click here.

9.1.3 DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01

DSHS Administrative Policy 7.01 is the department's American Indian Policy. The policy outlines the state's commitment and a process for consulting with tribes and tribal organizations in the planning and delivery of services to Indian governments and communities.

DSHS agencies consult with Indian tribes and Indian organizations in the development of biennial service plans along with an updated report on the status of these plans. Policy 7.01 provides the opportunity for involvement and meaningful input in the department's plans, budgets, policies, manuals, and operational procedures affecting American Indian people. Biennial service plans and progress reports must be developed at headquarter and regional levels.

9.1.4 Tribal Governments

Tribes operate under their own governmental systems. Many tribes have executive, legislative and judicial arms of government. Many have adopted their own constitutions and some still have traditional systems of governments.

In Washington State there are twenty-nine (29) federally recognized tribes and several non-federally recognized tribes and Indian organizations. Washington ranks among the top ten states in terms of significant Indian population and significant reservation land base. Over 50% of tribal members still live on or near reservations.

9.1.5 State Liaisons

There are several state resources available to help state agency staff when they work with tribes.

For more information on Tribes, STRU, GOIA and IPSS see the State Tribal Relations Unit (STRU) Website.


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