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U.S. Department of the Interior - Office of Policy, Management and Budget
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Day 2 Opening and Welcome

Sarah Palmer, U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution

SP: Are there any thoughts, questions, or comments from the session yesterday?

Audience comment: It is interesting to hear about the various definitions of consultation. And it comes down to something as simple as "just talk to us." Why do we make it so complicated?

Audience comment: A problem I seem to run into in consultation is that there are a lot of ceremonies during the summer and it is very difficult to get in touch with someone in authority during those times. But sometimes we have time-sensitive issues that need to be resolved.

Audience response: Consultation is an ongoing process. We should share calendars. You should try to schedule around one another just like any other agency. It is the trust ---- the dialogue that is important. Consultation is something that you nurture, you have to build upon. Consultation is not a part-time job.

Additional audience response: We shouldn't forget that we as Federal agencies are as difficult to work with as any other group. We have hierarchies as well. It takes a long time to get things done from our end also.

Additional audience response: I think the answer to that question is the first comment -- just talk to the tribes.

Additional audience response: What about running into "Indian time"? There is a shared responsibility. We need to have contingency plans in place for emergency situations. We need to think about how that plays into consultation.

Additional audience response: If there is already an infrastructure set up, and a dialogue and mutual respect and confidence in one another, perhaps you will know if what you are doing negatively affects the Tribe's interests. It is important to consult before people are at the point that they are unwilling to listen.

Additional audience response: We are not looked at as part of an agency -- we are looked at as "government" overall. The Tribe may look at something you are doing as just one more trick the government is trying to pull. A lot of Tribes have a long, sad, history with the government and that doesn't just go away.

Additional audience response: Maybe try to get in touch with the local people, they are often trying to make a living as well as govern the tribe. Maybe tie in the people's needs with what you are trying to accomplish.

Audience question: How can we educate our supervisors, our mid-level managers, who have the mindset that no one should get special treatment and don't understand the history? We are looking into adding a component to our general training. Has anyone had any success with this?

Audience response: It has been attempted with various success. But elections happen and momentum gets lost. A catalyst or something that brings it to the forefront is often necessary.

Additional audience response: Message from Frank's Landing is a very useful book for educating people. You can ask Tribes what books they would recommend.

Additional audience response: The Department of Defense has a cultural communications course. We try to offer this course quarterly. We try to get our senior management involved. That program is available on a CD.

Additional audience response: There are a couple of Border groups -- Southwest Strategy Group, Border 21 -- that may be helpful.

Additional audience response: At the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, we started a course called "Working Effectively with American Indians and Alaska Natives" that seems to hit the mark with folks who are trying to establish working relationships with natives. We try to get upper management involved. The NRCS training is open to other agencies. The announcements are on our national employee development websites. You can request special offerings at certain locations.

Audience comment: It would be helpful to develop a training manual for how to develop consultation training courses.

Audience comment: To suggest another tactic -- if you have a project that is particularly important, it is helpful to have a one-day joint training with the agency and the tribe because it will help you become a team and work together. It is helpful to break down barriers on both sides and is a good start for a big project or new initiative.

Comment from Kathryn Lynn, DOI Office of Collaborative Action and Dispute Resolution: One thing we found in our initial conversations was that people wanted training in consultation but didn't know where to find it -- either for themselves or for their managers or lawyers. We would like to get information about current resources, training manuals, and training courses. If you have this kind of resource, please let us know so we can add it to our website so people can have a resource to find this training. Sometimes, getting an agency to participate in training is as easy as letting them know that other agencies are doing it.