Minnesota Department of Transportation

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MnDOT Policies

American Indian Employment

MnDOT Policy #OE018
Effective: September 10, 2020

View/print signed policy (PDF)

Please go to the MnDOT Org Chart to find specific contact information: Org Chart.

Responsible Senior Officer: Deputy Commissioner/Chief Administrative Officer
Policy Owner: Director, Office of Tribal Affairs
Policy Contact: Tribal Liaison

Policy statement

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) is responsible for the planning, project development, construction, reconstruction, repair and maintenance of all state trunk highways, including roads in Indian country. MnDOT must work with recognized tribal governments on transportation-related projects, workforce training opportunities, employment and contracting.

All American Indians are eligible for employment on state and federally-funded projects. Recruiting efforts must be targeted toward those living on or near a reservation. To that end, Indian employment preference must be applied without regard to tribal affiliation or place of enrollment.

For construction projects on or near reservations, contractors must collaborate with tribal governments to utilize American Indian labor in performing contract work. MnDOT encourages cities and counties to adopt a similar policy for state-funded road projects on or near reservations.

In addition, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) requires states to have an on-the-job (OJT) training program. The contractor must collaborate with tribal governments to recruit and retain American Indians for OJT positions on projects on or near reservations.

As it relates to recruitment, retention and promotion within state agencies, MnDOT must collaborate with tribal governments in providing access to relevant resources to fulfill Executive Order 19-01’s requirements.

Reason for policy

The State of Minnesota and the 11 federally recognized tribal governments within Minnesota promote and support American Indian employment on MnDOT projects on or near reservations. Besides providing an economic benefit, this position ensures American Indians are involved in projects affecting their communities. Indian employment on MnDOT projects provides employment opportunities and meaningful work for American Indians.

As authorized by United States Code, title 23, section 140(d), the Commissioner of Transportation may implement an Indian employment preference for members of federally recognized tribes on projects carried out under United States Code, title 23, on or near an Indian reservation.

The FHWA encourages state Departments of Transportation to work cooperatively with tribes to employ American Indians.

Executive Order 19-24, signed by Governor Tim Walz, recognizes the unique relationship between Tribal Nations and the State government. MnDOT must coordinate meaningfully and in a timely fashion with Tribal Nations, including but not limited to, coordinating on access to employment and contracting and training opportunities.

As it relates to American Indians as applicants and current MnDOT employees, Executive Order 19-01, signed by Governor Tim Walz, creates a Diversity and Inclusion Council to address recruitment, retention, and promotion of State employees while creating opportunities for everyone to thrive. MnDOT’s goal is to have a workforce that represents Minnesota’s communities.

Applicability

All MnDOT employees must comply with this policy.

Key stakeholders affected by this policy include:

  • MnDOT Commissioner
  • MnDOT Senior Leadership
  • Tribal Liaison
  • District Offices Leadership
  • Project Managers
  • Project Engineers
  • Human Resources (Central Office and Districts)
  • Office of Civil Rights
  • Office of State Aid Local Transportation

Definitions

Indian/American Indian

An individual who is a member of a federally recognized tribe.

Near

Projects that are "near" an Indian reservation are defined as those within a reasonable commuting distance from the reservation. MnDOT has determined that, at a minimum, all projects within a 60 mile radius of each reservation in Minnesota are near a reservation based on this definition of ‘near.’ There may also be projects beyond the 60-mile radius that are near a reservation based on this definition of ‘near.’ This will be determined on a case-by-case basis and in coordination or consultation with impacted tribes.

Indian Country

A legal term of art referring to lands held in trust for Indians and Indian tribes. Indian country goes beyond reservation boundaries. It includes reservations, some off-reservation allotments, and “dependent Indian communities” (i.e., land that is federally supervised and set aside for the use of Indians, this is usually found on off-reservation trust land).

Responsibilities

MnDOT Commissioner

  • In consultation with federally recognized tribes in Minnesota, determine when a project is near an Indian reservation.

MnDOT Senior Leadership

  • Create the “tone at the top” as it relates to American Indian employment with MnDOT and on construction projects on or near a reservation.

Tribal Liaison

  • Establish and promote effective working partnerships between MnDOT leadership and tribal governments.
  • Lead and coordinate statewide efforts and ensure MnDOT’s implementation as it relates to the establishment and development of American Indian employment, contracting and training.

District Offices Leadership

  • Coordinate and collaborate regularly (at least annually), with each tribe in the district to share information on short- and long-range programs, the status of projects on or near reservations within the district boundaries, and on employment, training, and contracting opportunities.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with tribal governments and, upon agreement, include Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment on individual projects on or near the reservation.
  • Inform tribal governments of delayed projects and share solutions to mitigate impact on American Indian employment, tribal communities, and tribal businesses.
  • Encourage partnership opportunities with tribal governments for maintenance activities and other contractor-related work that falls under MnDOT’s responsibility.

Project Managers

  • Inform tribal government of the upcoming project.
  • Collaborate closely with the Office of Civil Rights and Tribal Affairs to develop Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment requirements for each project.
  • Insert and assist with special provisions relating to Indian Employment into contracts on or near the reservation.
  • Inform district leadership and tribal governments of delayed projects and share solutions to mitigate impact on American Indian employment, tribal communities and tribal businesses.

Project Engineers

  • Review Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment requirements with contractors at pre-construction conferences.
  • Collaborate closely with the Office of Civil Rights to ensure compliance with Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment.

Human Resources (Central Office and Districts)

  • Provide information on MnDOT job openings to the tribal government employment representative including TERO and non-TERO tribes (e.g. Urban Offices, Tribal Human Resources Directors, Tribal Employment Rights Officers, Tribal Colleges’ career counselors, and other tribal employment representatives).
  • Ensure American Indians can access resources on resume tips, State employment application process, and interview tips.
  • Collaborate with Tribal Affairs and the Indigenous Employee Resource Group to organize and participate in job fairs and other community events in Indian country.
  • Collaborate with Tribal Affairs and implement the action plan for Hiring and Retention of American Indians.
  • The Office of Human Resource will establish and maintain relationships with tribal government employment representatives.

Office of Civil Rights

  • Meet with tribal employment representatives to promote employment opportunities for American Indians on state and federally-funded projects on or near reservations.
  • Enforce Special Provisions Relating to Indian Employment and ensure contractor compliance.
  • Administer the On-the-Job Training (OJT) program and increase opportunities for American Indians.
  • Consult and coordinate with Tribal Affairs in the development and administration of the Tribal Employment, OJT, and Small Business programs as they relate to American Indian employment, contracting and trainings in Minnesota.
  • Coordinate with Tribal Affairs, District leadership, and tribal employment representatives to identify and diversify training, small business services, and contracting opportunities for American Indians in Minnesota, including Indian country and urban centers.

Office of State Aid and Local Transportation

  • Follow the American Indian Employment policy for state and federally-funded projects.
  • Coordinate with Tribal Affairs and encourage cities and counties to adopt a similar policy for state-funded road projects on or near reservations.

Policy Owner (Director, Office of Tribal Affairs)

  • Review policy every two years, or sooner as necessary, to ensure policy remains up-to-date.
  • Ensure supporting documents associated with the policy remain current.
  • Work with Policy Coordinator to revise policy as needed.
  • Communicate revisions, reviews, and retirements to stakeholders.

Resources and related information

Maps

Processes, Procedures, and Instructions

Resources

History and updates

Adopted

September 10, 2020

Superseded

  • Policy 6.3, Indian Employment
    • Effective April 22, 2005

Policy review

This policy's next scheduled review is due September 2022.