Service Agreements: Exploring Payment Formulas for Tribal Trust Lands on the Oneida Reservation

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Many tribal governments throughout the United States struggle with developing
and maintaining positive relationships with other governments
that have overlapping boundaries.1 Sometimes a tribe and other governments
are able to strike an accord and realize a wide array of ways their
respective governments can complement each other in order to provide
the best services to their shared communities. Other times tribal and local
governments find themselves tied up in litigation and negative public relations
campaigns due to their inability to find a way to peacefully coexist.
Th e Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin is no different: the tribe enjoys
cooperative relationships with most local governments and uncooperative
relationships with one. With any luck, tribes and local governments
throughout the United States can learn from these experiences as they
seek to work toward positive government- to- government relationships.
Th e Oneida Tribe and local governments have negotiated and continue
to negotiate agreements to cover the costs of providing government
services to these tax- exempt properties. Th e problem is that there
is little guidance for tribes and local governments to use when considering
how to value government services and how to determine what
constitutes a fair and equitable payment. Th e purpose of this study is to
use the Oneida Reservation as a qualitative case study to start to gain a
better understanding of how the Oneida Tribe and local governments
have determined how to structure their payments in hopes of providing
guidance for future decision makers on the Oneida Reservation and on
other reservation communities in the United States. Unlike other literature
on the subject of state- tribal intergovernmental relationships, this
study did not focus on increasing tribal sovereignty, questioning state sovereignty, or empowering one government over the other. Rather, this
study approached the problem from a community perspective with an
end goal of providing guidance for tribal and local government decision
makers who want to find ways to work together.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)347
Number of pages368
JournalAmerican Indian Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

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