The Bureau of Indian Affairs is one of the oldest agencies in the United States Federal Government, established in 1824 under the then-Department of War and charged with negotiating government-to-government trade and treaties between Native Nations and the United States. Over time — and with a push from activists’ takeover of the BIA during a surge of Native activism in the 1960s and 1970s — BIA’s role and relationship to Tribal governments has evolved from one of oversight and restriction to increasing support for self-determination. The Tiwahe Pilot Initiative is the latest in a series of landmark legislative and administrative decisions that have loosened the relationship between BIA and Tribal governments.

Federal Legislation Preceding and laying the groundwork for Tiwahe (1954 - 1994)


  • Responsibility for providing health services to American Indian and Alaska Native communities transitioned from BIA to the now-Department of Health and Human Services.



  • Indian Child Welfare Act redressed the widespread removal of AIAN children from their homes and mandated Tribal involvement in decision-making about child welfare cases.


  • Tribal Self-Governance Act established a permanent program of Tribal Self-Governance, cementing existing compacts for the 95 Tribes already participating and allowing for expansion of self-governance to additional Tribes each year.

Tiwahe Program Timeline (2015-2024)

Phase 1: Pilot Site Selection

Tiwahe national planning, selection of initial pilot sites, and community planning. Tiwahe provides across the-board funding increases to all Tribes that operated social services and/or ICWA programming in Fiscal Year 2014. Tiwahe Pilot Communities receive an additional funding bump for implementing integrated services. 


  • Tiwahe Pilot Initiative increased flexibility and autonomy in social service program allocations and tested integrated service delivery in six AIAN Pilot Communities. 


  • The First Round of Pilot Communities are selected: Red Lake Nation, AVCP, Spirit Lake Nation, and Ute Mountain Ute Tribe — begin implementing and tracking coordinated social services. The Tiwahe National Coordinator is hired. Across-the-board and Tribal specific performance measures are established. 

2017 - 2021

  • BIA invited four Tribes to participate in the demonstration in 2015, and an additional two Tribes in 2017. Funding for Tiwahe remained flat between Fiscal Year 2017 and 2021.  

Phase 2: The Second Round of Pilot Communities

  • Fort Belknap Indian Community and Pascua Yaqui Tribe began implementing and tracking coordinated social services.  
  • 2017-2020 All six Pilot Communities implement and report against approved Tiwahe plans. 

Phase 3: 2019-2021

  • With reporting from the Pilot Communities, the Tiwahe framework is developed and the pilot evaluation is conducted. 


In 2022, Congress appropriated an additional $2 million to expand the demonstration to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana and the Paiute Indian Tribe in Utah beyond the current six demonstration Tribes. Two tribes were selected, and 10 Tribes received $100,000 in one-time funding. 

2023 - 2024 


  • Bureau of Indian Affairs added the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana, and the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah to the list of Tiwahe communities. They also added an additional 10 Tribes and Tribal Organizations to receive one-time funding of $100,000 each to implement programming or support the development of a Tiwahe plan. 
  • Congress appropriated an additional $2 million to further expand the demonstration in the Social Service and ICWA program areas. 


The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 requests an increase of $33.5 million for the Tiwahe Initiative to further expand support for Native families and communities. 


Contact Us

Tiwahe Program
Washington, DC
Open 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Monday–Friday.