Tribal Consultation, Coordination, and Collaboration
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Federally recognized Indian Tribes (Tribes) share the goals of developing sound agricultural production practices, enhancing food safety, improving nutrition and health through food assistance and nutrition education and promotion, managing and protecting the United States’ lands and natural resources, and working cooperatively to ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) have full access to the programs and services of the Department. To achieve this goal, it is essential that all agencies of the USDA engage with Tribes in timely and meaningful consultation on policies that have substantial direct effects on one or more Tribes. Consultation, coordination, and collaboration are different but not mutually exclusive; rather, they are mutually supportive. Together, they lead to information exchange, mutual understanding, and informed decision-making. The importance of consultation and coordination with Indian Tribes was affirmed through Presidential Memoranda in 1994, 2004 and 2009, and in Executive Order “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments” EO 13084, issued in 1998 and replaced by EO 13175 in 2000, as well as in numerous statutes and policies. The value of collaboration is fully recognized within the USDA for all of its constituents, including Tribes.
This Departmental Regulation builds upon these requirements. It establishes over-arching Department-wide guidance upon which the USDA and its many agencies shall rely, thereby providing a baseline from which individual agencies shall further develop and refine their own specific, supplemental tribal consultation policies for government-to-government consultation. USDA agencies shall respect Indian tribal self-government and sovereignty, honor tribal treaty and other rights, and meet the responsibilities that arise from the unique legal relationship between the Federal Government and Tribal governments.