Indianz.Com Video: Tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships
Biden administration announces nation-to-nation tribal consultations
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Indianz.Com

The Biden administration will be consulting tribes on ways to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship following an executive directive issued by the 46th president of the United States.

The consultations will be hosted by the Department of the Interior. They take place via teleconference next month, from March 8 through March 12.

“Honoring our nation-to-nation relationship with tribes and upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities to them are paramount to fulfilling Interior’s mission,” Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, a citizen of the Winnebago Tribe who serves as Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs at Interior, said in an announcement on Thursday.

“Meaningful consultations ensure we center Tribal voices as we address the health, economic, racial justice and climate crises — all of which disproportionately impact American Indian and Alaska Natives,” added Bledsoe Downes, also designated as Tribal Governance Officer at the department.

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President Joe Biden is seen in the White House on January 21, 2021. The tribal consultation and nation-to-nation executive order was signed on January 26. Photo: Adam Schultz / White House

On January 26, President Joe Biden signed a memorandum on tribal consultation and strengthening nation-to-nation relationships. He directed all federal agencies to detail how they will implement executive order 13175, which was originally issued in 2000.

“Today, I’m directing the federal agency to reinvigorate the consultation process with Indian tribes,” Biden said in the State Dining Room at the White House.

“Respect for tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone of our engaging with Native American communities,” Biden said before signing the memo.

The schedule for the Department of the Interior’s tribal consultations follows:

Monday, March 8 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET)
Great Plains, Midwest and Rocky Mountain Regions

Wednesday, March 10 (10:00 a.m.-1 p.m. ET)
Eastern, Eastern Oklahoma and Southern Plains Regions

Wednesday, March 10 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET)
Navajo, Southwest and Western Regions

Friday, March 12 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET)
Alaska, Northwest and Pacific Regions

Written comments can also be submitted to consultation@bia.gov. The deadline is 12 p.m. ET on March 19, 2021.

A February 11, 2021, press release from Interior follows:

Interior Announces Series of Tribal Consultations in Recognition of the Importance of Nation-to-Nation Relationship

WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior announced today that it will host initial consultations with Tribal leaders next month. In addition to honoring and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship, these steps will help ensure that future White House and Interior efforts at addressing the four converging crises of our time – COVID-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change – are inclusive of Tribal Nations’ priorities and recommendations.

Today’s actions open a new chapter with Tribal governments following President Biden’s January 26 memorandum, which noted that respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful and robust consultation with Tribal officials are of the utmost priority for the Administration. Interior has invited federal agencies to send representatives to listen to the sessions to inform how they might facilitate their own agency-specific consultations.

“Honoring our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes and upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities to them are paramount to fulfilling Interior’s mission. Meaningful consultations ensure we center Tribal voices as we address the health, economic, racial justice and climate crises — all of which disproportionately impact American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, Interior’s designated Tribal Governance Officer and Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs.

Interior will notify all federally recognized Tribes of the consultation series today, and shared additional guidance to kickstart and facilitate a productive, meaningful process. Interior will hold four tribal consultation sessions in March to hear Tribal leaders’ suggestions for federal policy and departmental actions, including identifying additional best practices to improve consultation and fortify Interior’s relationship with Tribal governments. The sessions will be conducted by Indian Affairs’ Office of Regulatory Affairs and Collaborative Action via teleconference with Tribes in each of the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ 12 regions:

Monday, March 8 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET): Great Plains, Midwest and Rocky Mountain Regions

Wednesday, March 10 (10:00 a.m.-1 p.m. ET): Eastern, Eastern Oklahoma and Southern Plains Regions

Wednesday, March 10 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET): Navajo, Southwest and Western Regions

Friday, March 12 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET): Alaska, Northwest and Pacific Regions

The deadline for written comments on the consultation series is 12 p.m. ET on March 19, 2021. Comments can be submitted at consultation@bia.gov.