Minnesota Department of Transportation

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Civil Rights

Committed to equality in transportation service

Tribal Projects: Advertisement Duties

Pre-advertisement Duties

Federal law allows the preferential employment of American Indians living on or near reservations for projects located on Indian reservation roads. In addition, it gives states the right to implement Indian employment preferences for all federal aid projects located on or near reservations within their respective borders.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), exercises this right by including the Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment (Special Provisions) in federal-aid proposals calling for highway construction on or near reservations.

The Federal Highway Administration considers a project to be “near” a reservation when located “within a reasonable commuting distance.” Each tribe has a different interpretation of reasonable commuting distance. Further, there is no agreement or documentation between MnDOT and each tribe outlining that distance. For the purposes of including the Specials Provisions, some districts and counties discuss the preferred mileage on an annual basis with the applicable tribe or consider near a reservation to be projects within 60 miles of Indian Country. When evaluating employment goals on projects, project staff are informed of projects that are on reservations and those that are within a 60-mile radius.

The Special Provisions, which promote and encourage tribal engagement in highway construction, are accessible here:

Pre-advertisement Communication

If the project is fully on, partially on, or near a reservation, it is best practice to contact the tribe at least six weeks prior to project advertisement. Contact information for Minnesota’s federally-recognized tribes is located on the Minnesota Tribal Government Employment Contact List (PDF).

The conversation or email sent to the tribal employment contact should include the following topics:

Topic Discussion Items
Project Overview
  • Type of project and scope of work
  • Project location
  • Project Map
  • Estimated Project Cost
  • Type of trades involved
  • Applicable dates
    • Letting date
    • Estimated start and end dates
    • Pre-construction conference date
TERO Tax (only if the project is on the Indian Country):
  • Percent of Project on Indian Country
  • Confirmation of TERO Tax Rate
  • Payment of TERO Tax
  • Procedure for notifying tribe whenever work will be conducted on tribal land (if applicable)
  • Project schedule updates
  • Address any questions or concerns

*For Indian Country boundary questions, contact Levi Brown, MnDOT Tribal Liaison at levi.brown@state.mn.us or (651) 236-7048.

Post-advertisement duties

Once a MnDOT or locally let federal project calling for highway construction or maintenance on or near a reservation is completed, the project engineer must complete the following duties as set forth in the Special Provisions.

Pre-construction conference

The tribal employment rights officer must receive an invitation to the pre-construction conference. Furthermore, the conference agenda must include an item providing sufficient time to address tribal employment.

TERO tax payment

The TERO tax is not required if the project is not on located on the reservation.

The prime contractor will pay the TERO tax, meaning the assessment levied on highway construction projects occurring anywhere on tribal land, and seek reimbursement through the local agency.

It is important to remember the TERO tax is tribe-specific, such that anything relating to its parameters (remittance, rate, etc.) is set forth in a tribal ordinance.


If the tribal employment rights officer or another tribal representative indicates the prime contractor is failing to comply with the Special Provisions, refer the matter to the Office of Civil Rights immediately.

Project Completion Duties

Once a MnDOT or State Aid project calling for highway construction or maintenance on or near a reservation is completed, the project engineer must complete the following duties as set forth in the Special Provisions.

Indian Employment Tracking Form

The prime contractor must complete the Indian Employment Tracking Form, which lists all tribal members hired by either the prime contractor or any subcontractor following referral by the tribal employment rights officer, no later than 30 days after project acceptance. Do not accept the form if any of the requested information is missing.

Payment withholding is an option under MnDOT Standard Specifications 1906.1 if the prime contractor fails to submit the completed form within this timeframe.