Southern California tribal governments closer to participating in regional planning

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LOS ANGELES -- Under a proposal approved March 2 by the Regional Council of
the Southern California Association of Governments, tribal governments
throughout the region came one step closer to having a formal role in
regional planning and policy-making efforts.

The proposal would amend the bylaws of SCAG to invite the 17
federally-recognized tribal governments in the SCAG region to participate
in the organization at various planning and policy-making levels. The
proposed amendments will be considered by the SCAG General Assembly at its
May 2006 meeting.

Under the proposal, a new Tribal Government Regional Planning Board would
be created by federally recognized tribal governments in the SCAG region.
The new tribal planning board would select tribal council members to sit on
SCAG's policy committees and would also elect one voting representative to
the SCAG Regional Council and Administration Committee. Tribal governments
would also participate in the SCAG General Assembly as advisory members.

Tribal leaders on hand at the SCAG meeting applauded SCAG's Regional
Council for its foresight and inclusion of tribal governments following the
vote.

"This is an historic development for tribal governments," said Lynn
Valbuena, chairman of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations. "We
commend the council for its vision and recognition of Native American
tribes as capable and committed governments, and we look forward to
continuing to work with SCAG to make tribal government participation in the
organization a reality."

Tribal leaders were optimistic that tribal government participation in SCAG
would benefit regional planning efforts.

"Tribal governments had no voice in regional planning efforts for far too
long," said Patrick Murphy, TASIN secretary. "This is good not only for our
reservations and quality of life, but for the entire region. This will lead
to improved communication and coordination between tribal and local
governments, and that's a good thing for the entire region."

Since 2003, TASIN tribal governments have been working with SCAG to discuss
and identify ways that tribal governments in the SCAG region can
participate in the planning organization.

For TASIN, this is another example of its commitment to working with local
governments in a mutually beneficial manner. Over the years and in
partnership with local governments, TASIN has sponsored and passed
legislation to secure funding for local communities from the Indian Gaming
Special Distribution Fund, a statewide fund designed to offset the impacts
of tribal casinos.

TASIN tribal governments also helped to create a special unit in the
Riverside and San Bernardino County District Attorney's offices, which is
fully funded by tribal governments, to prosecute crimes committed in Indian
casinos. In addition, TASIN tribal governments and Riverside County have
formed the Tribal Council Task Force, which meets monthly and provides a
forum for county supervisors and tribal leaders to discuss issues of mutual
concern.