Indian Country’s Guide to Tribal Consultations Aims to Improve Nation-to-Nation Dialogue

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With the generous support of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) released Facilitating True Nation-to-Nation Dialogue: A Guide to Effective and Meaningful Consultation with Tribal Governments to provide direction on rules, regulations, laws, and more regarding Tribal consultations, with specific emphasis on the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). PLEASE NOTE, THE USDA HAS RELEASED NEW DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS REGARDING TRIBAL CONSULTATIONS MAY 2024. IFAI WILL UPDATE THIS DOCUMENT SPRING 2024 WITH THE LATEST RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS.

“It is really clear from the guide that consultation is not only a legal obligation, but it’s just good, sound policy,” said Mia Hubbard, vice president of programs, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. “It’s a fantastic publication and provides a framework for best practices and protocols from a Tribal perspective on how to set a high bar for achieving meaningful, timely, and effective consultation.”

Tribal consultations are key for Federal and Tribal communication and engagement. When done correctly, they are a tool for resolving issues that Tribal citizens experience in accessing federal programs and services. However, understanding and upholding the rules and regulations around official Tribal consultation is not always common knowledge for all employees within federal agencies. Because of this, federal officials often seek practical advice from IFAI and others on how to carry out what they read in the department’s consultation policy. IFAI’s recently released consultation guide aims to give that kind of practical advice, focused entirely on the USDA.

“We’ve seen so many benefits when (consultation) was done right, so we really value this as a resource to get to the point that we do it right more often,” said Chris Borden, acting national tribal liaison –USDA Natural Resources and Conservation Service.

In addition to legal document texts, like USDA’s Departmental Directives, Executive Orders (EOs), and other administrative rules, IFAI’s consultation guide relies on decades of lived and learned experience from legal and policy professionals in Indian Country as well as current and former Tribal leaders and Tribal government staff.

“We hope this guide can help facilitate the government-to-government dialogue that leads to solutions, problem solving, and better relationships with Tribal Nations and USDA,” said Erin Parker, IFAI’s executive director.


Download the guide here.

Media Contact:

Mary Belle Zook, IFAI communications director