Idaho’s Indian Affairs Council, which includes state legislators and representatives of the state’s five recognized Indian tribes, met today at the state capitol, with council Chairman Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, and council Vice Chairman Chief J. Allan, head of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, presiding. Among the council’s business: An update on the ongoing negotiations between the various tribes and the governor’s office over fuel tax issues. “Most definitely the tribes have been negotiating in good faith, and the governor simply ran out of time to complete these negotiations,” Jorgensen told the council after hearing the update. “And the governor-elect is eagerly anticipating a chance to continue those negotiations. … I’m just hopeful that we can get this thing taken care of very soon.”
The council meeting also included Reps. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, and Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, as well as representatives of the Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute tribes.
Nez Perce Tribe official Sam Penney noted that the fuel tax issue caused “conflict and hard feelings” during the last legislative session, and council members representing both the state and the tribes said they hope there’ll be no repeat of that, and that the negotiations will be allowed to conclude. The Shoshone-Paiutes already have negotiated a compact with Nevada, in which half of their reservation falls, over the issue.
“The reality is that each tribe is separate and unique,” Jorgenson said. “That’s the one thing I can say has come out of all these negotiations.” That means separate agreements must be negotiated to address the differing issues rather than a “uniform compact,” Jorgenson said.