Twenty-two federally recognized American Indian tribes reside within the regulatory boundaries of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) St.Paul District. USACE reviews hundreds of projects every year that have potential to affect tribal interests. Various federal laws and policies require agencies to consult with tribes on their undertakings.
The USACE St. Paul District sought to identify a preferred approach for effective government-to-government consultation with tribal partners within district boundaries, build strong working relationships, develop a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, and increase awareness of tribal perspectives and interests. USACE enlisted the assistance of the Udall Foundation’s U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution to contract with 106 Group to provide impartial, third-party facilitation services.
We organized, facilitated, and documented two rounds of face-to-face tribal meetings to first assess concern and then to present responses. The project team met with more than 50 tribal leaders from 18 of the 22 federally recognized tribes to discuss how consultation strategies could be improved and how to more fully incorporate consultation as an essential part of its program implementation. During follow-up meetings, we met with tribal leaders to present responses to the needs and interests of the tribes. The response tools and materials were very well-received and several tribal representative noted that they felt heard at the meetings.