Interior Department Announces Formation of First Tribal Advisory Committee to Strengthen Nation-to-Nation Relationship with Tribes

November 16, 2021

Agency will also hold Tribal consultation on how to improve consultation policy

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced the formation of a new Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC), which formally establishes a mechanism for Tribal leaders to engage in routine and robust conversations directly with Secretary Deb Haaland. This important move will further strengthen the Department’s nation-to-nation relationship with federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and their leadership.

The STAC will ensure that Tribal leaders and the current and future Secretaries have a forum to seek consensus, exchange views, share information, and provide advice and recommendations regarding programs and funding that affect Tribes across the entire Department.

“Tribes need a seat at the decision making table before policies are made that impact their communities. The creation of this new Tribal Advisory Committee is a timely and much-needed development that will ensure Tribal leaders can engage at the highest levels of the Department on the issues that matter most to their people,” said Secretary Haaland. “I look forward to continued engagement with Indigenous communities and ensuring that we honor and strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships with Tribal leaders.”

“The establishment of a STAC and planned consultation process improvements at Interior are welcome additions to the ways we connect and communicate with Tribal leaders and address their priorities,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Their input is vital to improving how we respond to the needs of their communities through the many programs Interior administers.”

The Department also announced that Tribal consultations will be held regarding draft updates to the Department’s Tribal consultation policy and procedures contained in its Departmental Manual at 512 DM 4 and 512 DM 5, respectively. As part of the Department’s continuing efforts to improve implementation of Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments,” the Department will seek Tribal input on edits that would:

  • Bolster Interior’s consultation policy to encourage early, robust, interactive, pre-decisional, informative and transparent consultation;
  • Establish a model for seeking Tribal consensus;
  • Require that DOI staff undergo training before participating in consultation;
  • Codify the STAC;
  • Address flexibility for Tribal waivers;
  • Clarify that Interior decision-makers must invite Tribes to engage in consultation; and
  • Require a record of consultation.

Secretary Haaland made the announcement in remarks to Tribal leaders as she hosted a Listening Session with Assistant Secretary Newland and other administration leaders during the Biden-Harris administration’s first Tribal Nations Summit.

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Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

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