Helping Address Needs in Indian Country

Committed to Making Sure the Federal Government is Responsive to the Needs of Indian Country

Sen. Thune fights for South Dakota’s tribal citizens and works hard to ensure government programs that serve tribes and tribal members function fairly.

Highlights of Sen. Thune’s Commitment to Indian Country:

  • Keeping the Indian Health Service (IHS) Honest:
    • For years, Sen. Thune has been active in his oversight of the IHS. In 2014, he requested an update from the top IHS official regarding the agency’s state of affairs in South Dakota. Unfortunately, the agency’s response did not compare with the situation on the ground.
    • In 2015, reports indicated that similar issues were happening once again. Sen. Thune was able to secure a Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing during which these practices were examined and continues to work on legislative proposals to address the problems.
    • In response to these continued failings, in 2016, Sen. Thune and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs introduced the Indian Health Service Accountability Act of 2016. This bill would address the systemic failures at IHS by increasing transparency and accountability at the agency. By implementing these common-sense reforms, IHS and its leaders could refocus on their key mission, which is to provide tribal citizens with access to safe, quality health care.
  • Addressing Tribal Youth Suicide:
    • Sen. Thune’s amendments, adopted as part of a recent education reform bill, requires the secretary of education to coordinate with other federal agencies to report on efforts to address youth suicide in Indian Country and expand the use of Project School Emergency Response to Violence (Project SERV) funds to include preventive efforts against youth suicide and other school violence instead of merely responding to the crisis.
  • Improving Tribal Law and Order:
    • From 2008 to 2010, Sen. Thune worked with his colleagues to pass the Tribal Law and Order Act, which brought increased local control to tribal law enforcement agencies and established accountability measures for federal agencies responsible for providing public safety in Indian Country.
    • Sen. Thune’s provisions raised the maximum hiring age of law enforcement officers and the other required a study into a Department of Justice’s community policing program application to remote reservations.