Prosperity and resilience for all tribal nations is the vision of the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA). The WHCNAA endeavors toward this vision through collaborative inter-agency work across the Executive Branch, regular and meaningful Tribal-Federal engagement, and by fostering an all-of-government approach in meeting treaty and trust obligations to Tribes.
2023 Tribal and Indigenous Climate Speaker Series
This monthly series is designed to educate federal agency personnel about consulting and coordinating with Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiians, and other Indigenous Peoples in our combined effort to combat the climate crises. Each webinar will feature Indigenous speakers and/or federal agencies to share knowledge and experience beneficial to federal employees working on climate adaptation priorities and is hosted by the White House Council on Native American Affairs Climate Adaption Subcommittee.
January 10: Guidance on Indigenous Knowledge for Federal Agencies and Departments
Join Haley Case-Scott and 'Aulani Wilhem for a discussion on the Administration's recently released Indigenous Knowledge Guidance and accompanying implementation memorandum for Federal Agencies on recognizing and including Indigenous Knowledge in Federal research, policy, and decision making.
The 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit
The White House is pleased to announce the 2022 White House Tribal Nations Summit on November 30th and December 1st, 2022 at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The Summit will feature new Administration announcements and efforts to implement key policy initiatives supporting Tribal communities. For more information, please visit the link below.
The Summit provides an opportunity for Tribal leaders to engage directly with officials from the highest levels of the Administration. If you have any questions, please contact TNS@who.eop.gov.
2022 WHCNAA Deliverables for Tribal Nations Summit
New Best-Practices Report for Tribal Treaty and Reserved Rights
Seventeen federal agencies, coordinated through the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA), have released a new best-practices report to integrate Tribal treaty and reserved rights into agency decision-making processes. This best-practices report was developed in consultation with Tribal Nations and implements the agencies’ Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights. The agencies include ACHP, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Department of Commerce (DOC), Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Energy (DOE), DOI, DOJ, Department of Labor (DOL), Department of State (DOS), DOT, DHS, Department of Education (ED), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of Personnel Management (OPM), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
For federal staff working at the regional and local level, the Best Practices Guide has also been synthesized into a Regional and Field Guide with an additional stand-alone Flow Chart.
Access to Capital in Indian Country
The Small Business Administration (SBA), in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOC, DOE, DOI, Treasury, USDA, OMB, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has announced a new access to capital initiative with the goal of increasing awareness, access, and utilization of financing opportunities for Tribal Nations. Implementing part one of the plan—awareness—will entail identifying and summarizing all loan and financing programs available to Tribes, including through ARP, BIL, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the IRA. Part two of the plan—access—will involve identifying barriers to capital and summarizing policy, regulatory, and statutory solutions to increase access to federal financing programs. Part three of the plan—utilization—will involve increasing utilization of federal capital programs by establishing baselines of use and setting metrics to improve the utilization rate of the programs.
Indian Energy Purchase Preference at Federal Facilities
To ensure that investments in the clean energy economy reach Tribal lands, DOE—in coordination with WHCNAA and with involvement from DOD and the General Services Administration (GSA)—will launch a new initiative to increase federal agencies’ use of Tribal energy through purchasing authority established by statute. Title V of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 established for federal agencies a preference for purchasing electricity and other energy products from Indian Tribes and Tribal enterprises. That authority has been unused for over 17 years. The Administration will hold listening sessions with Tribal Nations to better understand the market conditions for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses developing carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE). DOD will integrate the Indian Energy Purchase Preference into electricity procurement strategies. GSA will lead a pilot focused on Tribal energy production to develop procurement strategies. Agencies will develop training and resources for Tribes and Tribal majority-owned businesses to foster technical expertise in the development of CFE projects, improve awareness of the Preference, and encourage partnerships for CFE development.
Electric Vehicle (EV) Initiative for Tribal Nations
BIL includes funding to secure an American EV supply chain and to build out the first-ever nationwide public EV charging network of 500,000 EV chargers. The Administration is announcing an EV Initiative for Tribal Nations to ensure that Tribal Nations and Native communities are part of the EV future of the country. Ten federal agencies, including DOT, DOE, DOI, DOL, ED, EPA, HHS, HUD, GSA, and USDA, coordinated through WHCNAA. This initiative will include mapping EV infrastructure, provided TA to Tribes to increase their funding opportunities, providing a toolkit to initiate planning and implementing EV infrastructure projects, prioritizing Tribal, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)-funded, and other schools on Indian lands for replacing diesel school buses with low or zero emission school buses within EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, providing assistance to Tribes for the purchase or lease of EV fleet vehicles, and supporting Tribal nations roles in the EV battery supply chain.
Indigenous Knowledge Guidance for Federal Agencies
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and CEQ are announcing first-of-its-kind government-wide guidance for federal agencies to recognize and include Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision-making. Initiated at the 2021 Tribal Nations Summit, the new White House guidance was developed with federal agencies, in consultation with Tribes and engagement with Indigenous peoples, to elevate Indigenous observations, oral and written knowledge, practices, and beliefs that promote environmental sustainability and the responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources in federal policymaking.
Tribal Co-Management and Co-Stewardship of Federal Lands and Waters
President Biden has recognized the importance of increasing Tribal participation in the management and stewardship of federal lands and waters of significance to Tribal communities. In 2021, USDA and DOI signed Joint Secretarial Order 3403, committing to Tribal co-stewardship, including through written co-stewardship agreements with Tribal Nations. In 2022, they delivered on this commitment: in total, USDA Forest Service and DOI signed over 20 new co-stewardship agreements with Tribes to further co-stewardship goals, with more than 60 additional agreements under various stages of review. At the White House Tribal Nations Summit in November 2022, DOC announced that it will formally join in these co-stewardships efforts by signing onto Joint Secretarial Order 3403. This commitment furthers an all-of-government approach to co-stewardship and ensures that additional agencies—like NOAA—will further co-stewardship goals in their management of waters, fisheries, and other resources of significance and value to Tribes.
10 Year National Framework Plan on Native Language Revitalization
The WHCNAA Education Committee has released a draft framework of a 10-Year National Plan on Native Language Revitalization. The Administration will consult with Tribal Nations on the draft and finalize the plan in 2023. This plan will be built upon four pillars: (1) Awareness—creating national awareness on the importance of Native languages, the current crises of Native language loss, and the urgency for immediate action; (2) Recognition/Affirmation—establishing a formal policy recognizing the role that the United States government played in erasing Native languages and affirming the need for federal resources and support for Native language revitalization; (3) Integration—integrating Native language revitalization in mainstream society, including in federal policies, and outlining the need to create Native language revitalization ecosystems; and (4) Support—identifying funding, including federal and philanthropic sources for Native language revitalization.
Native American Veteran Homelessness Initiative
VA, HHS, and HUD, through the WHCNAA Health Committee, have announced an interagency initiative to increase access to care and services for American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans experiencing or at risk of homelessness in urban areas. The initiative will involve partnerships with UIOs and focus on intake and referral services to ensure that Native veterans are aware of and have access to available resources.
Broadband and Electromagnetic Spectrum on Tribal Land
The Departments of the Interior and Commerce and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a new interdepartmental Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to advance consistent interagency coordination to promote electromagnetic spectrum access and deployment of broadband and other wireless services on Tribal lands to strengthen the federal trust responsibility to Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiians. Among other initiatives, this MOU is first of its kind to provide a framework for exploring new opportunities for tribal policy development for wireless services, including spectrum access and data exchange, in support of Tribes’ political and economic self-determination.
Additionally, Interior Secretary Haaland announced the establishment of a new Office of Indigenous Communications and Technology (OICT) to assist Tribal Nations and Tribal entities in managing and developing new technological and wireless services on Tribal lands and Native Hawaiian Homelands to modernize the Department’s available resources and advance true tribal self-determination over their digital resources. OICT will focus on the development of spectrum resources, wireless services, electric vehicles, and other technological services and will also play a key part in interagency coordination, technical assistance, and national policy development for broadband and spectrum services on tribal lands as part of the Interior’s long-standing role managing tribal trust resources
International Indigenous Issues Committee Engagement Session
** Will be rescheduled at a later date. **
The Departments of State, Interior, and the EPA invite tribal leaders to discuss the upcoming launch of the Indigenous Peoples Conservation Advisory Network (IPCAN). IPCAN will be designed to support and uplift the leadership of Indigenous peoples and their knowledge in conservation, restoration, and sustainable management efforts in terrestrial, coastal, and ocean ecosystems and will facilitate a global, Indigenous-led network supporting Indigenous peoples’ stewardship of lands and waters to address the climate and biodiversity crises.
- DOS: Deputy Assistant Secretary Maxine Burkett- moderator
- EPA: Assistant Administrator Jane Nishida
- DOI: Senior Advisor Raine Thiele
- Tribal Government Leaders
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Who We Serve
The White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA) was established to improve the coordination of federal programs and the use of available federal resources for the benefit of tribal communities.
The Council will ensure that tribal consultation—grounded in the special nation-to-nation relationship between the U.S. government and tribes—continues to guide federal decision-making in addressing the needs of Native peoples.
Tribal Treaty Rights
The WHCNAA Chair convenes the principals at least three times a year per Executive Order 13647 (June 2013). Recognizing Tribes have equity in all of President Biden’s four priorities – tackling COVID-19, addressing climate change, advancing racial equity, and supporting strong economic recovery – the Council formed the following six Committee topics to carry out the Council’s initiatives:
The Committees intend to produce deliverables and tools, make policy recommendations, and find ways to leverage resources and expertise among agencies to improve services to Indian Country. The Committees meet regularly and provide reports at each of the WHCNAA Principals meetings.
About the White House Council on Native American Affairs
President Obama established the WHCNAA in 2013 via Executive Order 13647 to improve the coordination of federal programs and use of available federal resources for the benefit of Tribes and Tribal communities.
Co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Ambassador Susan Rice, WHCNAA membership consists of heads of federal Departments, Agencies, and Offices. An Executive Director and inter-agency staff carry forward WHCNAA priorities grounded in the trust responsibility and treaty rights and informed by consistent and substantive engagement with Tribal Nations. The collaboration between the WHCNAA and Tribal leaders sets the foundation for effective federal investments in Tribal communities and for effective policies that impact Tribes.
The WHCNAA also supports and organizes the annual White House Tribal Leaders Summit to provide an opportunity for the leaders from all federally recognized Tribes to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of the Administration.