Tribal Consultation

Federally recognized Indian tribes are sovereign nations exercising government-to-government relations with the United States. Where the public lands are concerned, these relations usually take the form of legally required consultation, and in most day-to-day consultations with tribes, the BLM field office manager serves as the official representative of the United States.

For the BLM, the essential reason for Native American consultation is to identify the cultural values, religious beliefs, traditional practices and legal rights of Native American people, which could be affected by BLM actions on public lands.

Tribal consultation regarding public-land activities has 4 essential elements:

  • Identifying appropriate tribal governing bodies and individuals from whom to seek input.
  • Talking with appropriate tribal officials and/or individuals and asking for their views regarding land use proposals or other pending BLM actions that might affect traditional tribal activities, practices, or beliefs relating to particular locations on public lands.
  • Treating tribal information as a necessary factor in defining the range of acceptable public-land management options.
  • Creating and maintaining a permanent record to show how tribal information was obtained and used in the BLM's decision making process.


BLM Releases Guidance for Improving and Sustaining Tribal Relationships

comanche nation elders

The new BLM 1780 Tribal Relations Manual and Handbook represents the culmination of years of outreach and coordination between the BLM and American Indian tribes, and has been developed to complement the direction of the Administration and the Department.  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 (NHPA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  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.