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Tribal Consultation

Long before European-Americans arrived in the Western Hemisphere, Native Americans lived on and used the lands the BLM now administers as public lands.

Successions of mobile hunting and gathering peoples relied on the lands and their natural resources in differing ways for at least 10,000 years. In the last two millennia, farming and fish-harvesting economies encouraged permanent settlements in some areas, but in most parts of the West occupation remained seasonal and temporary.

The Indian tribes whom the European-American explorers and settlers encountered after the 16th century were carrying on their own cultures' refinements of age-old land-use patterns. Many of those traditional land-use patterns were lost as a result of European-American encroachment and displacement.

Certain rights are guaranteed to Indian tribes and Indian individuals because of their status as Indians. The Constitution of the United States, the treaties executed with some tribes, a comprehensive body of Federal Indian law, and many other laws, executive orders, and secretarial orders define tribes' special status and rights.

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

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

• Identifying appropriate tribal governing bodies and individuals from whom to seek input.

• Conferring 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.

For more information, go to the BLM 8100 Manuals and use Adobe's search function to go to the 8120 section. You will find both the Native American coordination and consultation manual and handbook there. See also the links below.