Deb Haaland
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland; (photo/Romie Miller)

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

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.”

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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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.