Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry Echo Hawk have announced a new tribal consultation policy for the Department of the Interior that will offer American Indian and Alaska Native tribes a greater voice in federal policy that would affect Indian tribes. The new tribal consultation policy will include any regulation, rule, policy, guidance, legislative proposal, grant funding formula change or operational activity that may significantly impact a tribe. It was developed in close coordination with tribal leaders, including meetings in seven cities with more than 300 tribal representatives.
The consultation policy fulfills President Obama’s directive that all federal agencies develop ways to improve consultation with tribal leaders. It provides detailed guidelines to ensure Interior officials and managers are using the best practices and most innovative methods to communicate with tribes. Based on information received from the bureaus and offices, the secretary will issue an annual report to the tribes on the tribal consultation policy, and establish a joint federal-tribal team to make recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the policy.
Salazar said, “This comprehensive initiative reflects President Obama’s commitment to strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the United States and tribal nations and recognizing their fundamental right to self-governance. The new framework institutionalizes meaningful consultation so that tribal leaders are at the table and engaged when it comes to the matters that affect them.”