BLM releases new Tribal Relations Manual

Canyon of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado, Aug. 6 , 2016 | Photo by Bob Wick courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management, St. George News

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA —The Bureau of Land Management Friday announced the release of the new BLM 1780 Tribal Relations Manual and Handbook which, it said, represents the culmination of years of outreach and coordination between the agency and American Indian Tribes.

The president and the Department of the Interior have made tribal relations and tribal consultation a priority of the administration, the BLM’s news release stated.  The manual has been developed to complement the direction of the administration and the department.

As public land managers, we have a foundational responsibility to work closely and engage in meaningful consultation with Native Americans.  This guidance will help the BLM’s current and future leaders build positive, long-lasting relationships with tribes across the country,” BLM Director Neil Kornze said.

The new guidance supports the Bureau’s renewed commitment to our tribal responsibilities and provides a foundation for increased communication and collaboration between the BLM and tribes, the release said.  Strong relationships built on trust are the keys to joint success. The health of our landscapes and resources are of strong mutual interest.

Beginning in August 2008, the BLM initiated comprehensive outreach to the tribes that garnered valuable input for improving BLM tribal consultation policy and practice.  Tribes also provided insights regarding tribal consultation required by the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act.  The decision to create a comprehensive manual resulted from tribal feedback.  The new manual and handbook will assist BLM’s line managers and responsible staffs who carry out consultation and cooperation across a wide spectrum of resources and issues of concern to tribes.

A Nov. 5, 2009, presidential memorandum directed federal agencies to develop a plan to comply with 2000 Executive Order 13175, titled “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.”  In December 2011, the Interior Department adopted a new departmental policy on tribal consultation with Secretarial Order No. 3317.  The Secretarial Order established new responsibilities, positions, performance metrics and goals.  It also established principles including involvement of the authorized official and conducting consultation in the context of an ongoing relationship with tribes.

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