A grant from the initiative on Native American Intellectual Leadership to UC Irvine will support development of a field guide for consultation and collaboration between native and non-native agencies and organizations. Associate Professor of Anthropology Justin Richland and his team will interview and survey tribal leaders and non-native entities to uncover and highlight best practices for tribal engagement.
“Clarifying best practices for tribal consultation is but one step in an ongoing effort to rectify the invisibility of Native Americans and their issues in the U.S.”
There are 573 federally recognized tribes in the United States operating as sovereign nations, each with a distinct system of laws and rights. When non-native government agencies and public institutions – the Department of Forestry, Department of Justice, Elections Commissions, universities, museums – enact policy that impacts tribal people and resources, federal law requires “meaningful tribal consultation.” What exactly this looks like varies widely and overall implementation has been fragmented at best, says Justin Richland, UCI associate professor of anthropology.
“The piecemeal nature of regulations passed in 2000 and 2009 across federal government and in the private sector has made it difficult to account systematically for what meaningful consultation looks like, what kinds of practices work, what kinds don’t, and what recommendations can be made for improving processes going forward,” he says. A 2012 report on the implementation of the consultation processes and procedures across agencies of the Federal Executive Branch found that the vast majority of federal agencies at that time had not fully complied, and many had no formal processes or procedures for tribal consultation. Since that report, there’s been no follow up.
Richland, author of Arguing with Tradition: The Language of Law in Hopi Tribal Court and Introduction to Tribal Legal Studies, is an expert on Native American law and politics in the contemporary moment – particularly the interface between tribal nations in the U.S. and the U.S. federal and state governments. He’s been awarded a $50,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to develop a field guide for engagement between native and non-native agencies and organizations.