Wisconsin State Tribal Relations Initiative

About the Initiative
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On April 9, 2019, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #18, affirming the sovereignty of the 11 federally recognized tribal governments in Wisconsin and the government-to-government relationship that exists between the State and the tribes. This is a continuation of the work set in motion by Executive Order #39 of 2004, which established the State-Tribal Consultation Initiative.

The Initiative is a comprehensive program aimed at increasing ties between state agencies and tribal governments in order to streamline and improve the services our governments provide to both tribal and non-tribal members. The State-Tribal Consultation Initiative, now fully underway and unique in Wisconsinís history, will pave the way for state-tribal partnerships well into the future.


What is the State-Tribal Consultation Initiative?

In 2004, Executive Order #39 was issued, recognizing the government-to-government relationship between the state and tribal governments and requiring strengthening of the working relationship between the two governments.


As a result, the State-Tribal Consultation Initiative was created.  Nearly all of the agencies in the Governorís Cabinet have drafted policies which establish a framework for interaction with tribes.  These policies were drafted with input from representatives of all of Wisconsinís tribal governments at meetings hosted by the stateís 11 federally recognized tribes.  The policies state that whenever the agencies consider programs or initiatives that would affect tribes, they share this information with them.  Conversely, whenever tribes have an issue with the state, the Initiative establishes processes through which these can be shared with state government.


The goal of this Initiative will be greatly improved communications allowing for any potential issues to be corrected early on or avoided entirely on both sides.  Through the Initiative, valuable state and tribal resources are put to more effective use delivering government services in a more streamlined, coordinated and economically efficient manner. 



Why Creation of a State-Tribal Consultation Initiative Now?

The reason for the Initiative's launch is that tribes are increasingly striving to provide governmental services to their tribal members and, in many cases, non-tribal members living on tribal lands.  Tribal members and non-tribal members living on Wisconsinís reservations are also citizens of the state of Wisconsin, entitled to the services to which any other state resident is so entitled.  Tribes, governed by democratically-elected councils/legislatures,  provide a number of governmental services including the provision of public safety services; construction and maintenance of water and sewer infrastructure; road building and maintenance and providing for quality health care and education.


Taking these facts into consideration demonstrates the need for the state and tribes to begin more closely coordinating and streamlining the delivery of these services to tribal and non-tribal members in order to increase efficiency and eliminate wasteful duplication of effort.  The State-Tribal Consultation Initiative has this as its bottom line goal:  improving the provision of governmental services and economic development to both tribal communities and the citizens of the state of Wisconsin to save valuable taxpayer money.



What Agencies have Completed State-Tribal Consultation Policies?

  • Department of Administration
  • Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection
  • Department of Children and Families
  • Department of Commerce
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Financial Institutions
  • Department of Health Services
  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
  • Wisconsin Office of Justice Assistance
  • Department of Natural Resources
  • Department of Revenue
  • Department of Tourism
  • Department of Workforce Development
  • The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has signed a state-tribal consultation agreement with each of Wisconsinís 11 federally recognized tribal governments.
  • The Department of Public Instruction, the Public Service Commission and the Department of Justice are not a part of the Governor's Cabinet.

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