Conserving this Nation’s fish and other aquatic resources cannot be successful without the partnership of Tribes; they manage or influence some of the most important aquatic habitats both on and off reservations. In addition, the Federal government and the Service have distinct and unique obligations toward Tribes based on trust responsibility, treaty provisions, and statutory mandates.
Walking the Walk with Tribes (for Conservation)
Commitment, continuity and communication: please pardon the pedestrian alliteration, but these three words best describe the relationship that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Fisheries Program has with Native Americans.
Tribal governments and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service own common commitments to fisheries conservation. Like the Service’s mission statement says in so many words, we work with people in conservation for the benefit of people.
Sovereign tribal governments and the U.S. government have compelling interests in promoting healthy waters and the well-being of fisheries, be they cutthroat trout streams on an Indian reservation in the West, or a lowland warmwater fishery used by Native Americans in the South. Quality fisheries benefit the well-being of people and economies, and you, the reader, are our clientele.
For generations, Native Americans have developed lifestyles, cultures, religious beliefs and customs centered on their relationships with fisheries and wildlife. Nature provided these – food, shelter, tools, and trade goods. Fisheries continue to provide sustenance, cultural enrichment for Native Americans, as well as help maintain tribal social structure and stability by permitting gainful employment in traditional and desirable occupations.
In more recent times, with assistance from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, tribes have developed and expanded their fish and wildlife management programs, thereby increasing economic and social opportunities. Revenues generated through recreational and commercial fishing on Native American lands have helped to support numerous tribal governments. These situations have benefitted fish, wildlife, habitat and people, Native American and otherwise.
The conservation projects shown below help to highlight just a small part of the contributions and partnerships made by Tribal Natural Resource Departments and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.