Seated before a crowd in the Crossed Arrows Ballroom at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel at the Lower Sioux Community, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan sent a message to the Minnesota tribal nations and the state as a whole.

Their administration is making the establishment of stronger relationships between the state and the tribes a priority. That commitment was made official when each signed Executive Order 19-24. 

The executive order affirms the relationship between the state and tribes and provides for consultation, coordination and cooperation.

The executive order states, “it is important to recognize that the United States and the State of Minnesota have a unique legal relationship with federally recognized tribal nations as affirmed by the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes and case law.”

There are 11 recognized tribal nations in Minnesota with elected or appointed tribal governments, and the executive order recognizes and supports the unique status of the Minnesota tribal nations and their rights to exist as well as self govern.

In the end, said Walz, the order is recognizing that the state and tribes benefit from working together.

The executive order establishing the relationship was initiated under the administration of Mark Dayton and is being enhanced under the Walz administration.

Walz referred to his One Minnesota concept as he talked about the executive order and what it means to the state, adding for that One Minnesota concept to be successful a key piece is the sovereign nations of the state.

“We know that if you and your children are doing well Minnesota is doing well,” Walz told the audience, which was made up of tribal representatives from across the state who had gathered as part of the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council.

Walz said it is not about doing things “to” or “for” the tribes but “with” them, which he believes will prove to be the most successful and have the greatest impact on the state as a whole.

Walz said when people ask where the best collaborative efforts are being done between the tribes, business and the state, he wants them to say that is happening in Minnesota.

Walz said he knows that words are one thing but deeds, action and effectiveness is what the tribes are looking for in a good relationship with the state. Walz said the state has seen tremendous leadership from the tribes as it relates to a number of issues that are impacting the state as a whole, adding he looks forward to continuing to receive that input from them.

“I am learning every day,” said Walz.

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said the executive order that became official with their signatures June 3 is extremely important, adding it represents the hard work of the tribes.

“We all are also responsible for its implementation,” said Flanagan.

Flanagan expressed how exciting it is to be at the point that now exists, adding not that many years ago she never would have imagined this could have happened.

“This is a really important first step,” said Flanagan, adding now the hard work of implementation begins.

That starts with continued consultation from the tribes. Issues such as education, suicide prevention and the opioid epidemic are going to be a priority under the administration.

Flanagan also talked about the establishment of a task force that will bring the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women into the light of day, adding the process of developing that group is being established.

Under the executive order:

• All agencies must recognize the unique and legal relationship between the state and the state’s tribal nations.

• All agencies will implement tribal consultation policies to guide their work and interaction with the tribes

• All agencies will meet with each tribal nation to identify priority issues to develop legislative and fiscal proposals

• All agencies will develop and maintain ongoing consultation with the tribal nations as appropriate and will consider input gathered into their decision-making processes with the goal of finding mutually beneficial solutions.

Walz expressed his belief that while the executive order specifically addresses the relationship between the state and the tribal nations this is an effort that will benefit the state as a whole.