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S. 2097 encourages negotiations between tribes and States. But if negotiations fail, the bill provides a mediation process with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. States get what they are owed and tribal sovereignty remains intact.
This bill also addresses compensation for injuries when a tribal government is responsible. Many tribes are covered completely or in part through the Federal Tort Claims Act or private insurance coverage. But where there are gaps in the coverage there is the potential for wrongs not being compensated.
S. 2097 addresses this situation by directing the Secretary of the Interior to ensure that there is sufficient liability insurance in place for tribes that receive tribal priority allocations (TPA).
There have been attempts to resolve these issues by waiving Tribal Sovereign Immunity. I have opposed this approach-it solves one set of problems by creating another. But I must say to all the tribal representatives here we must address these issues. Not just to keep the more drastic legislative solutions at bay, but because if people believe they cannot get justice on tribal lands, they will not do business there. Private sector investment on reservations has worked economic wonders in some areas and is a model for getting out of poverty. If these problems persist, that will all go away.
I want to make it clear from the beginning that S. 2097 is a work in progress. I welcome all suggestions on how to make it more effective. I am confident that working together in this committee, we can develop reasonable and responsible solutions to the issues be
[Text of S. 2097 follows:
To encourage and facilitate the resolution of conflicts involving Indian tribes,
and for other purposes.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
MAY 20, 1998
referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs
To encourage and facilitate the resolution of conflicts
involving Indian tribes, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa
2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
3 SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "Indian Tribal Conflict
5 Resolution and Tort Cla'ms and Risk Management Act
6 of 1998".
7 SEC. 2. FINDINGS; PURPOSES.
(2) a unique legal and political relationship ex
ists between the United States and Indian tribes;
(3) through treaties, statutes, Executive orders,
and course of dealing, the United States has recog
States in the role of the trustee for Indian tribes;
(6) litigation involving Indian tribes, that often
requires the United States to intervene as a litigant,
(7) for many years, alternative dispute resolu
achievements toward developing a foundation for economic self-sufficiency and self-determination, and that economic self-sufficiency and self-determination have increased opportunities for the Indian tribes and other entities and persons to interact more frequently in commerce and intergovernmental relationships;
(11) although Indian tribes have sought and se
cured liability insurance coverage to meet their needs, many Indian tribes are faced with significant
barriers to obtaining liability insurance because of
the high cost or unavailability of such coverage in
the private market;
(12) as a result, Congress has extended liability coverage provided to Indian tribes to organizations
to carry out activities under the Indian Self-Deter
mination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C.
450 et seq.); and
(13) there is an emergent need for comprehen
sive and cost-efficient insurance that allows the
economy of Indian tribes to continue to grow and
provides compensation to persons that may suffer 5 personal injury or loss of property. 6 (b) PURPOSES.—The purposes of this Act are to en7 able Indian tribes, tribal organizations, States and politi8 cal subdivisions thereof, through viable intergovernmental 9 agreements to 10
(1) achieve intergovernmental harmony; and 11
(2) enhance intergovernmental commerce.
(1) FEDERAL AGENCY.—The term "Federal
agency' has the meaning given the term “Executive agency” in section 105 of title 5, United States
(2) INDIAN COUNTRY.—The term "Indian coun
try" has the meaning given that term in section
1151 of title 18, United States Code.
(3) INDIAN TRIBE.—The term "Indian tribe"
has the meaning given that term in section 4(e) of
the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assist
ance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b(e)).