Eight tribes with large reservations announce a new coalition

Eight tribes, representing some of the largest reservations in the United States, have formed a new organization to represent their concerns.

The Coalition of Large Tribes will address land, economic, jurisdictional and funding issues faced on large reservations. They want to educate the Obama administration, Congress and other tribes about their needs.

“Congress and the Administration need to understand that tribes with large land holdings, like those who have already joined COLT, face higher costs when they try to provide the same level of services as tribes with small reservations and smaller populations," said Tex Hall, the chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation in North Dakota, one of the founding member tribes.

“Large tribes are also the ones who are most seriously impacted by federal Indian land policies," Hall added. “We are not trying to downplay the needs of smaller tribes, but we need our voices to be heard and in the past that has simply not happened.”

Other founding members include the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, the Crow Tribe of Montana, the Navajo Nation, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate of South Dakota, the Blackfeet Nation in Montana, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe of South Dakota and the Spokane Tribe of Washington.

“While treaty tribes with 100,000 acres or more comprise only a small percentage of the federally recognized tribes in the United States, they collectively represent the largest percentage of federally recognized Indian tribal members and trust land ownership,” said Oglala Sioux President John Yellowbird Steele.

The Spokane Tribe will host a meeting on April 22 to discuss COLT and to encourage other tribes to join. A. Gay Kingman, the executive director of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association, can be reached at (605) 484-3036 for more information.

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