Gabe Galanda: Advancing state-tribal consultation mandates

"States’ actions or decision-making that violate tribal rights are nothing new; from birth, America’s youngest sovereigns have challenged and attacked Indian tribes. What is new, however, is the possibility of tribes suing states and municipalities to enjoin state or local decision-making that adversely affects tribal interests, for lack of tribal consultation.

Washington State provides a good example of that possibility. In 1989, the state of Washington and its neighboring tribes signed the Centennial Accord. The Accord commemorated the 100th anniversary of Washington’s statehood, paying homage to Washington’s first sovereigns: the Tribes. Founded on the government-to-government relationship, the Accord “respects the sovereign status of the parties, enhances and improves communications between them, and facilitates the resolution of issues.” The Accord provides: “The parties recognize that their relationship will successfully address issues of mutual concern when communication is clear, direct and between persons responsible for addressing the concern.” In short, the state recognized the need for meaningful tribal consultation regarding state decisions of tribal implication.

Ten years later, Washington State and the Tribes signed the Millennium Agreement “in the spirit of understanding and mutual respect of the 1989 Centennial Accord and the government-to-government relationship established in that Accord,” and desiring to strengthen their relationships and “cooperation on issues of mutual concern.” The sovereigns pledged continued cooperation through the development of “enduring channels of communication,” “institutionaliz[ed] government-to-government processes that will promote timely and effective resolution of issues of mutual concern,” and a state-tribal “consultation process, protocols and action plan.”"

Get the Story:
Gabriel S. Galanda: Advancing the State-Tribal Consultation Mandate (Indian Country Today 10/17)

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