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Tribal Consultation

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Statewide, MPO, and FHWA Role in Tribal Consultation

This summary provides tribal decisionmakers and planners with a brief summary of the tribal consultation process in transportation planning. It is based on the module Statewide, MPO, and FHWA Role in Tribal Consultation, which is one of twelve modules in the series Transportation Decisionmaking: Information Tools for Tribal Governments produced by the FHWA Office of Planning to educate tribal planners and decisionmakers about the tribal transportation planning process and to provide them with program information.

What is Tribal Consultation?

Tribal consultation is the federally mandated process for timely and meaningful notification, consideration and discussion with tribes on actions proposed by Federal, State and local governments that may impact tribal lands and property.

Why is Tribal Consultation Important?

Actions taken by Federal, State and local governments may negatively impact tribal lands and property. Consultation is the orderly process for early notification by these governments to tribal governments. It enables discussion, consideration and input from the tribal government before the action is taken.

What is the Basis for Tribal Consultation?

Tribal Sovereignty. Indian tribes have the right to self-governance, self-determination, and economic self-sufficiency.

Outside governments must respect tribal sovereignty when undertaking actions that may impact tribal lands and property.

Federal Actions that protect tribal sovereignty and mandate government-to-government consultation:

  1. 1994: Presidential Memorandum – Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments.
  2. 1996: Presidential Executive Order No. 13007 – Indian Sacred Sites.
  3. 2000: Presidential Executive Order No. 13175 – Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments.
  4. 2009: Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation.

The Principles of Tribal Consultation

There are three principles of tribal consultation:

Communication The process among the consulting parties for the exchange of information, data, or knowledge through speech, writing, and visual tools. This may include: presentations; data collection; newsletters and bulletins; a tribal monitor; and training on a range of topics.
Coordination The process among the consulting parties for defining and organizing activities, events, and tasks for achieving a mutual goal. This may include: meetings, summits, and workshops; tribal liaisons and coordinators; formal agreements; and regional and State conferences.
Cooperation The process in which the consulting parties agree to work together in planning, programming, and project delivery.

Federal, State DOT, and MPO Tribal Consultation Practices

How Does Tribal Consultation Relate to the Rest of the Modules?

This module is closely aligned with the Partnering and Leveraging module. It and tribal consultation foster government-to-government relations that protect and promote tribal interests.

What is the Transportation Decisionmaking Information Tools for Tribal Governments Series?

The figure below shows how each of the twelve modules in the series relate to each other.

Each of the training modules is laid out in this graphic of the training module series. At the top of the image is the Introduction to Planning module. Below are three modules, Developing a Long-Range Transportation Plan, Data Collection and Use, and Public Involvement, aligned in a row labeled “planning.” Underneath these modules are two more, Tribal Consultation and Partnering and Leveraging aligned in a row labeled “Tribal Intergovernmental Relations.” Below them are four modules, Developing the Transportation Improvement Program, Funding Resources, Financial Planning, and Project Prioritization, aligned in a row labeled “programming.” In the bottom-most row, labeled “other elements,” are the remaining two modules, Safety and Asset Management. All of the modules are encompassed in a large circle with the rows labeled just outside.

Additional Resources

Transportation Planning Capacity Building Website:

FHWA Tribal Transportation Planning:


Theresa Hutchins, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (360) 753-9402

Michelle Noch, FHWA Office of Planning
Phone: (202) 366-9206

Kyle Kitchel, FHWA Western Federal Lands High Division
Phone: (360) 619-7951

Brian Beltyon, FHWA Resource Center
Phone: (410) 962-0086

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Updated: 10/20/2015
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