DOI Implements First Tribal Advisory Committee: Here’s What It Means

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On Tuesday, the Department of the Interior announced the formation of the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee. It’s the first formal mechanism that facilitates conversations between Tribes and the DOI leader.

Just announced by the Department of the Interior, the Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) looks to secure more power for Tribal leaders in liaisons with the DOI.

According to the department, the STAC provides a permanent forum for Tribal leaders to seek consensus, exchange views, and share information on DOI matters. Tribes will also assume an increased advising role regarding any of the department’s programs and funding that affect Tribes.

“Tribes need a seat at the decision making table before policies are made that impact their communities. The creation of this new Tribal Advisory Committee is a timely and much-needed development that will ensure Tribal leaders can engage at the highest levels of the Department on the issues that matter most to their people,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “I look forward to continued engagement with Indigenous communities and ensuring that we honor and strengthen our nation-to-nation relationships with Tribal leaders.”

“I want tribal leaders to speak with me, directly”: At White House Tribal Nations Summit, Secretary Deb Haaland announces Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee at Department of the Interior to facilitate ongoing dialogue. @SecDebHaaland #STAC #WhiteHouse #TribalNationsSummit

— (@indianz) November 16, 2021

Tribal Advisory Committee Roles

The new committee’s exact duties within the DOI have not yet been determined. And, as yet, it has no appointed leader. However, the department will consult with Tribes for upcoming internal policies regarding Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.”

Among other items, Tribal leaders will provide input on edits that will:

Establish a model for seeking Tribal consensus;
Require that DOI staff undergo training before participating in consultation;
Codify the STAC;
Clarify that Interior decision-makers must invite Tribes for consultation, and record that consultation.

“The establishment of a STAC and planned consultation process improvements at Interior are welcome additions to the ways we connect and communicate with Tribal leaders and address their priorities,” said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland. “Their input is vital to improving how we respond to the needs of their communities through the many programs Interior administers.”

Future objectives for the STAC have not yet been announced. Secretary Haaland made the announcement during the Biden-Harris administration’s first Tribal Nations Summit.

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