Sen. Udall Presses Interior on Failures to Engage in Tribal Consultation

Nov 20, 2019News, Tribal Sovereignty

Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, pushed officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to explain its failure to engage in consultation with Tribes when determining how the BIA’s 477 workforce training program is implemented.

According to a press release, the “477” Tribal workforce training program “authorizes Tribes to consolidate federal workforce, training, and economic development programs into a single, integrated Tribally designed plan.”

“Consultation is the bedrock of a strong government-to-government relationship with Tribes,” Udall said, responding to a Department of Interior Official who defended the Bureau’s lack of consultation by saying the agency was not required to do so.

“The Department of the Interior knows very well that any direction it’s given to act is to be done with consultation,” Udall added. “To say that the statute does not direct it runs counter to all Indian law principles, existing executive orders, and the spirit and the language of the law that’s before us.”

Executive Order 13175, first issued by President Bill Clinton, mandates that the federal government “establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the development of Federal policies that have tribal implications.” Furthermore, the Department of Interior’s Tribal Consultation Policy “strives to include elements that: honor the government-to-government relationship; involve the appropriate level of decision maker in a consultation process; promote innovations in communication by including a Department-wide tribal governance officer; detail early tribal involvement in the design of a process implicating tribal interests; and capture a wide range of policy and decision-making processes under the consultation umbrella.”

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