Policies on American Indians and Alaska Natives



March 14, 2008


OPI: Office of the General Counsel






The purpose of this regulation is to (1) set forth the USDA’s policy on government-to-government Tribal relations; and (2) provide policy and implementation guidance for Executive Order 13175 titled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.”




This regulation supersedes and replaces Departmental Regulation 1340-006 of October 16, 1992.


This regulation pertains to Federally Recognized Indian and Alaskan Native Tribes and provides guidance to USDA personnel.        




a.       Indian tribe (or tribe). Any Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village, or community that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian tribe pursuant to the Federally Recognized Indian Tribe List Act of 1994, 25 U.S.C. 479a-1.


b.      Alaska Native Corporation (ANC). Any Alaska Native village or regional corporation established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Pub. L. No. 92-203 (ANCSA).


a.       Indian. A member of an Indian tribe.


b.      Alaska Native. As defined by section 3(b) of ANCSA, a citizen of the United States who is one-fourth degree or more Alaska Indian (including Tsimshian Indians not enrolled in the Metlakla Indian Community) Eskimo, or Aleut blood, or a combination thereof. The term includes any Native as so defined either or both of whose adoptive parents are not Natives. It also includes, in the absence of proof of minimum blood quantum, any citizen of the United States who is regarded as an Alaska Native by the Native village or Native group of which he/she claims to be a member of whose father or mother is (or, if deceased, was) regarded as Native by any village or group.


c.       Tribal government. The governing body of an Indian tribe that has been officially recognized as such by the Federal Government.




      The United States Government has a unique, legal and political relationship with Indians and their tribal governments as defined through treaties, statutes, court decisions and the United States


      Constitution. The United States Government has obligations under treaties and statutes to protect and maintain the lands, resources, and traditional use areas of Indians. Tribal governments have powers similar to those of state governments. In Alaska, the relationship with ANCs is defined by ANCSA, as amended.         




a.       USDA is the lead department of the Federal Government for providing effective and efficient coordination of Federal agriculture, agricultural research, food assistance, food safety, natural resources and rural development programs. USDA recognizes that tribal governments and Alaska Native Corporations manage land for such agricultural activities as farming, grazing, hunting, fishing, subsistence agriculture and gathering of plants, plant products and animals. USDA further recognizes that such resources may hold a unique meaning in the spiritual as well as everyday life of many Indians and Native Alaskans. Consequently, and in furtherance of tribal self-governance, USDA incorporates the provisions of Executive Order 13175 herein and attaches this Executive Order hereto.


b.      USDA will observe the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Pub. L. No. 95-341.


c.       USDA will work with tribal governments, tribal high schools, colleges and universities to encourage the development of agribusiness skills and awareness, and where needed agribusiness curricula and where needed, curricula. USDA will share information through the exchange of technical staffs and skills. 




The Secretary of Agriculture is responsible for insuring that this policy is followed. The Secretary has delegated authority to certain USDA agencies for carrying out these policies. The Office of Native American Programs, a component of the USDA Office of External and Intergovernmental Affairs, has primary responsibility for coordinating USDA agencies’ programs serving Indians and Alaska Natives. The Office of Advocacy and Enterprise has primary responsibility for coordinating USDA’s equal employment, civil rights and employment-related outreach to Indians and Alaska Natives.




Future authority given to USDA by Congress shall automatically be incorporated into this regulation.




Inquiries, questions or comments pertaining to this regulation may be directed to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Native American Programs, Room 216-A, Whitten Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20250-1300 or by telephone at 202-720-6643.


Further information on USDA programs will be available in the guide, “American Indians and Alaska Natives: A Guide to USDA Programs.”




Appendix  A


Executive Order 13175


(Please refer to the pdf version for this document)