WASHINGTON, D.C. ? In a possible breakthrough for the Bush Administration's understanding of tribal sovereignty, the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of the Interior eGovernment initiative announced April 26 that recognized tribes may participate in a program that will them to use the ".gov" domain name suffix on their official web sites.
"This has been an idea bandied around for quite some time; for it to happen now affirms President Bush's policy of treating American Indian tribes as sovereign governments," said Interior Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Neal McCaleb.
The GSA is the government agency that grants the .gov domain name suffix to government entities and the suffixes are generally used to identify the function of a specific organization. Currently, many tribes use the .nsn suffix meaning "native sovereign nation."
Steve Adams, accounting director and web site manager for the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), said the ".gov" designation helps to establish a more government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government.
"For us it recognizes that the administration is at least making an effort to recognize tribes as a government entity," said Adams. "It's a small gesture, but an important gesture."
President Bush's Management and Performance Agenda has set the e-Government program as a top initiative, according to the DOI. The initiative is intended to provide pertinent information about tribal programs and agencies and business transactions and to provide services to individuals over the Internet on a "24-7" basis.
A statement from the DOI said a tribe would need to apply to the Office of the Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs to receive the domain name suffix. Tribes will need to include a letter of application, a tribal resolution or minutes of a meeting granting authorization or designating an individual as being authorized to make the written request. Registration can also take place at www.gov-registration.gov. An example of web content guidelines for the new sites can be obtained by contacting Paul Marsden, e-Government Officer at (703) 390-6308.