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Home arrowNews arrow Interagency Group Releases Major Report on Tribal Consultation

Interagency Group Releases Major Report on Tribal Consultation

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) commends the Departments of the Interior, Justice, and the Army on the January 18 release of a comprehensive report outlining ways to improve the role of Indian tribes in federal planning processes.

The interagency work group, which ACHP staff and Members also participated in, was set up last fall following criticism and protests from tribes and other members of the public over whether the Army Corps of Engineers and other planning agencies were obtaining adequate input from tribes on infrastructure projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline. The group held several tribal consultation meetings over the course of the fall that examined steps the federal government might take to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure project reviews and decisions.

The report, entitled Improving Tribal Consultation and Tribal Involvement in Federal Infrastructure Decisions, includes summaries of tribal comments from the consultation sessions, as well as recommendations for how federal agencies can improve tribal consultation.

The ACHP believes the report is a major accomplishment that provides a blueprint for constructive action and opportunities to advance the ACHP's longstanding policies of effective tribal consultation in the Section 106 process.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires federal agencies to identify and assess the effects of their undertakings on historic properties. The ACHP has said in recent comments filed with the Corps that 'Appendix C' the process it uses to comply with Section 106, falls short of the NHPA requirements. In the report issued this week, the Corps pledged to update Appendix C in 2017 in response to input received from tribes.

The agencies also committed in the report to incorporating its findings into work covered by the Memorandum of Understanding on Interagency Collaboration and Coordination for the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites.

The ACHP was a participant in the work group. Vice Chair Leonard Forsman and Office of Native American Affairs Director Valerie Hauser attended the consultation meetings, and Hauser and Native American Program Specialist D. Rae Gould helped analyze tribal comments and draft the report.

The report can be viewed at https://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/document/idc2-060030.pdf