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Continuing Education Launches Government to Government Tribal-State Relations Training

UMD Professor Tadd Johnson  
UMD Professor Tadd Johnson. Photos courtesy of Dave Gonzalez, MnDOT  
UMD Assistant Professor Ed Minnema  
UMD Assistant Professor Ed Minnema  
Janice Bad Moccasin, Assistant Tribal Administrator, Shakopee Mdwakanton Sioux Community  
Janice Bad Moccasin, assistant tribal administrator, Shakopee Mdwakanton Sioux Community  

Tadd Johnson, professor and head of the UMD American Indian Studies Department, collaborated with Assistant Professor Ed Minnema and UMD’s Continuing Education Department to conduct the first Government to Government Tribal-State Relations Training in October. The Prairie Island Indian Community, in Welch, Minn., hosted the two-day event.

During the two-day training, Johnson spoke about federal Indian policy and the legal background between the tribes and states. Minnema facilitated panel and small group discussions. Johnson is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. In addition to teaching at UMD, Johnson is an attorney with over twenty years’ experience, a tribal court judge, and a tribal administrator. Minnema has served over twenty years in educational leadership as a teacher, administrator, and the corporate director of education and performance for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Currently he teaches strategic management, human resources, project management, and operations within UMD's Master of Tribal Administration & Governance (MTAG) program.

The MTAG program was created in 2011 to serve working adults to help them gain a firm grounding in the principles of sovereignty, ethics, law, management, budgets, and leadership, to benefit tribal governments. UMD has had an American Indian Studies Department since 1972. The department aims to fulfill the liberal arts mission to teach critical reading and writing of American Indian history, culture, and language. But, more importantly, the department’s goal is to introduce the idea of working more closely with Indian country and consulting to satisfy their needs in order to help them best maintain their reservations.

The event was created in response to an executive order Governor Mark Dayton signed on August 8, 2013, which stated “All Cabinet Agencies shall provide training for designated staff who work with the Minnesota Tribal Nations in an effort to foster a collaborative relationship between the State of Minnesota and the Minnesota Tribal Nations.”

An overview of federal, tribal, and state relations was provided at the event. Johnson stated, “The relationship between federal government and the tribal government is long established, and understanding the history and culture of the tribes is important for effective dialogue to occur between tribes and state governments.”

There is a need for the training because state agencies and tribes must work together to solve issues…both governments coming together to create a larger force. The event brought in more than 60 state agency and tribal leaders, including the Minnesota Department of Transportation to the Agriculture Department to tribal members from Prairie Island, Mdewakanton, Upper Sioux, Lower Sioux, and Mille Lacs tribes.

In Minnesota alone, there are 11 sovereign tribal nations governing themselves across the state. These 11 tribes are made up of seven Anishinaabe (Chippewa, Ojibwe) reservations and four Dakota (Sioux) communities. The Anishinaabe include Grand Portage, Bois Forte, Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake, Fond du Lac, and Mille Lacs. The Dakota include Shakopee Mdewakanton, Prairie Island, Lower Sioux, and Upper Sioux. Minnesota tribes make up just a portion of the 562 Indian tribes found over the entire United States.

Lynn Burbank, director of UMD Continuing Education and Roxanne Richards, program development associate, worked closely with Johnson and Minnema in developing the training for Minnesota’s state agency commissioners and employees. “UMD Continuing Education has the resources to host this type of training for state agency employees at all levels,” said Richards. Training such as this has real value for those working with Minnesota’s tribal nations. “Hearing a tribal leader speak of their past and cultural ancestry is very powerful,” said Richards. "More so than just reading about it in a textbook.”

Additional training events will be offered in 2014 to state agency staff to create a broader awareness of Dayton’s executive order, as well as creating the bond between federal and tribal governments. The goal is to build respectful relationships between the two and create a lasting commitment among state and tribes. Just another way those who can, work together.

For more information, visit the Continuing Education website.

Those Who Can, Duluth

Written by Kaitlyn Hukriede, November 2013


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