At the Interior Department, honoring our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes, strengthening Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, and upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities are paramount to fulfilling our mission.
These commitments are particularly vital now, as our nation faces crises related to health, the economy, racial justice, and climate change — all of which disproportionately impact Tribal communities.
Here are just some of the ways Interior and the federal government are engaging with Tribal communities as we address the intersecting challenges and begin to build back better:
Central to strengthening the partnership between the federal government and Indian Country is a robust consultation process. Interior recently announced a series of initial government-to-government Tribal consultation sessions to strengthen that process, identify additional best practices to improve consultation, and fortify Interior’s relationship with Tribal governments.
Because national monument designations are crucial to protecting America’s national outdoor heritage, including sacred Tribal lands, Interior is also engaging in Tribal consultations regarding a review of the monument boundaries and conditions of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
These consultations are just the beginning of a long, fruitful, and co-equal dialogue we anticipate having over the next several years. More information about ongoing consultations can be found on our Upcoming Tribal Consultations page.
Just as we at Interior are prioritizing Tribal engagement, so too is President Biden. The President knows that the intersecting health, economic, racial justice and climate crises disproportionately impact American Indians and Alaska Natives, which is why he has directed the entire federal workforce to take a whole-of-government approach to supporting Indian Country.
Right now, President Biden is championing a bold emergency legislative package to provide direct financial relief to communities and individuals, and to stand up a national vaccination program to protect us from further harm and accelerate our Nation’s path to recovery.
The American Rescue Plan will also deliver immediate economic relief by devoting nearly $1 trillion to help working families, including Native American families, with direct payments, extended unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility, and rental, mortgage, and homelessness assistance.
Interior’s political team proudly reflects the diversity of America, with more than 50% identifying as BIPOC (black, Indigenous and people of color) and 80% as women. This includes Native American leadership across the Department, which ensures that 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.
There is so much work to do – and we know we can’t do it without a full partnership from Indian Country. History demonstrates that we best serve Native American people when Tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities, and when federal officials speak with and listen to Tribal leaders in formulating federal policy that affects Tribal Nations.