Murkowski: Administration’s Consultation Policies Failing Tribes

Tribal Consultation a “Legal, Fiduciary and Moral Obligation that Must Be Honored”

Senator Lisa Murkowski today urged President Barack Obama to follow through on the federal government’s commitments and fulfill the expectations surrounding tribal consultation – enumerating the core frustrations and federal agency shortfalls she is hearing from many of Alaska’s 229 federally recognized Tribes.

In her letter to the White House (attached), she stresses that the requirements of notice and meaningful consultation with Alaska’s Tribes appear to be being violated by numerous federal agencies.  Of the promise of essential government-to-government consultation, she writes:

“Consultation is a term that has been said to embody your Administration’s approach to federal Indian policy. Let us not regress to an era where the federal government made systematic promises to Tribal governments that it had no intention of keeping.”

A member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Murkowski continues by listing off some of the concerns she has heard from Alaska Native Tribes:

  • There needs to be meaningful tribal consultation prior to notice of implementation of actions, regulation, or laws that impact Tribes;
  • We need one consistent policy that works across all agencies and departments, a policy conceptualized and formulated by the Tribes;
  • We need a better process in place to notify and inform Tribes of who, when, where, and what, regarding tribal consultation;
  • A number of Agencies and Departments are not adhering to their own tribal consultation policies which compromises the government-to-government relationship;
  • Tribes are not always afforded 30-day notice or adequate consultation notifications;
  • Agencies & Departments are not engaging in meaningful consultation, it is a one way road of communication dissemination instead of discussion and dialogue.
Senator Murkowski closes the letter by reminding President Obama that Alaska is home to more than 40% of all federally recognized Tribes in the Nation, and that she will continue to work on her efforts to achieve the meaningful tribal consultation that has been promised nationwide.