The Endangered Species Act establishes protections for fish, wildlife, and plants that are listed as threatened or endangered as well as provisions to maintain the list of threatened and endangered species, create recovery plans and outline procedures for interagency and intergovernmental cooperation to protect endangered species.
Since the law was passed by Congress in 1973, how the Endangered Species Act applies to trust lands and Tribal lands has been defined by the Secretary of the Interior secretarial orders, legal decisions and policy. A selection of these documents is provided below.
Memoranda and Secretarial Orders
A selection of current legal memoranda and secretarial orders pertaining to the enforcement of the Endangered Species Act for American Indians and Alaskan Natives is provided below.
- January 14-15, 2022: Department of the Interior Office of the Solicitor Memo No. 37063 “Withdrawal of Solicitor Opinion M-36936, ‘Application of Eagle Protection and Migratory Bird Treaty Acts to Reserved Indian Hunting Rights;’ Solicitor Opinion M-36926, ‘Application of the Endangered Species Act to Native Americans with Treaty Hunting and Fishing Rights;’ and Solicitor Opinion M-27690, ‘Migratory Bird Treaty Act’” and “Applicability of the Endangered Species Act and Migratory Bird Treaty Act to Reserved Tribal Hunting and Fishing Rights” (pdf)
- January 19, 2001: Secretarial Order No. 3225, “Endangered Species Act and Subsistence Uses in Alaska (Supplement to Secretarial Order 3206)” (pdf)
- June 5, 1997: Secretarial Order No. 3206, “American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act” (pdf)
Scholarship and Reports
Researchers have studied the Endangered Species Act and its effect on American Indian Tribes and Alaskan Native Villages. A selection of publicly available articles and reports are provided below.
- “Conserving Endangered Species in Indian Country: The Success and Struggles of Joint Secretarial Order 3206 Nineteen Years On” by Drew Kraniak. Colorado Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law Review, Volume 26, Issue 2, 2015.
- “Application of the Endangered Species Act to Tribal Actions: Can Ambiguity be a Good Thing?” by David Spohr & Lara B. Fowler. Bellwether: Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. Volume 1, Issue 1, 2009.
- “Implementing the Federal Endangered Species Act in Indian Country: The Promise and Reality of Secretarial Order 3206” by Marren Sanders. Joint Occasional Papers on Native Affairs No. 2007-01.