A unique relationship exists between Tribes and the State of Washington. This relationship is due to the inherent sovereignty of American Indian tribes. Consequently, tribes are independent governments and not another minority or special interest group.
The term government-to-government was first used to describe the relationship between tribes and the federal government. However, it is also used to describe the relationship and protocols between tribes and other governments such as states.
In the State of Washington, the term government-to-government was first used broadly in the
1989 CENTENNIAL ACCORD between the FEDERALLY RECOGNIZED INDIAN TRIBES in WASHINGTON STATE and the STATE OF WASHINGTON.
American Indian Tribes are recognized in federal law as possessing sovereignty over their members and their territory. Sovereignty means that tribes have the power to make and enforce laws, and to establish courts and other forums for resolution of disputes. The sovereignty that American Indian Tribes posses is inherent, which means that it comes from within the tribe itself and existed before the founding of the United States. Tribal sovereignty is not absolute, but rather is subject to certain limits resulting from the unique relationship of the tribes to the United States. Under federal law, tribes are said to retain all those aspects of their original sovereignty except aspects that have been given up in a treaty, taken away by an act of Congress, or divested by implication as a result of their dependent status. In addition to inherent sovereignty, tribal governments may also exercise authority delegated to them by Congress.
Additional Information: The Governor's Office of Indian Affairs offers Government-to-Government training classes to all state agencies.