WASHINGTON – The Department of the Interior will hold via teleconference the first of four tribal consultation sessions with leaders from federally recognized American Indian tribal nations in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Great Plains, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain regions on Monday, March 8, 2021. The sessions honor and seek to strengthen the United States’ nation-to-nation relationship with the tribes by hearing from their leaders suggestions for federal policy and departmental actions, including identifying additional best practices, to improve consultation and fortify Interior’s relationship with tribal governments.
The sessions, which are taking place in accordance with President Biden’s January 26 memorandum on tribal consultation and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship, will also help ensure that future White House and Interior efforts at addressing the four converging crises of our time – COVID-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change – are inclusive of the tribal nations’ priorities and recommendations. The Department first announced the series in a February 11 news release.
“Honoring our nation-to-nation relationship with tribes and upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities to them are paramount to fulﬁlling Interior’s mission. Meaningful consultations ensure we center tribal voices as we address the health, economic, racial justice and climate crises — all of which disproportionately impact American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes, Interior’s designated Tribal Governance Ofﬁcer and Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs.
The sessions are being conducted by Indian Affairs’ Ofﬁce of Regulatory Affairs and Collaborative Action via teleconference with tribal leaders in each of the 12 BIA regions with three regions per session.
The March 8 session will take place from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET with leaders from the Great Plains, Midwest, and Rocky Mountain Regions. The call-in number for this session is 888-843-9206 with the passcode 9530360.
The remaining sessions will be held on:
Wednesday, March 10 (10:00 a.m.-1 p.m. ET): Eastern, Eastern Oklahoma, and Southern Plains Regions
Wednesday, March 10 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET): Navajo, Southwest, and Western Regions
Friday, March 12 (2:00-5:00 p.m. ET): Alaska, Northwest, and Paciﬁc Regions
The sessions open a new chapter with tribal governments following President Biden’s January 26 memorandum, which noted that respect for tribal sovereignty and self-governance, fulﬁlling federal trust and treaty responsibilities to tribal nations, and regular, meaningful and robust consultation with tribal ofﬁcials are of the utmost priority for his Administration. In addition, Interior has invited federal agencies to send representatives to listen to the sessions to inform on how they might facilitate their own agency-speciﬁc consultations.
Interior notified tribes of the consultation series in a letter to tribal leaders and shared with them additional guidance to kickstart and facilitate a productive, meaningful consultation process.
Written comments from this consultation series can be submitted at email@example.com by 12 p.m. ET on March 19, 2021. This deadline will ensure that Interior has time to consider tribes’ input in developing its plan for submission to the Office of Management and Budget by the April 26, 2021, deadline established by the Presidential Memorandum.
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