Roles and Responsibilities

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.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plays an important role in providing help and support to Tribes as they exercise their sovereignty in the management of their fish and wildlife resources on more than 55 million acres of Federal Indian trust land and in treaty reserved areas.

  • 2010 Office of Native American Liaisons. Credit: USFWSServe as the liaison (i.e., lead point-of-contact or intermediary) between the Service and federally recognized Indian Tribes.
  • As a federal government agency, ensure that the Service is fulfilling its federal Indian trust responsibility to federally recognized Tribes.
  • Ensure that the Service operates within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized Tribes.
  • Implement the Service's 2016 Native American Policy.
  • Maintain and continue to build and promote positive working relationships with federally recognized Tribes.
  • Educate and promote Tribal cultural sensitivity and awareness regarding the Service's fiduciary obligations as they relate to Tribes.
  • Educate Tribes regarding the Service's federal mandates and mission.
  • Promote partnership opportunities with Tribes.
  • At the request of a Tribe, develop and prepare agreements relating to mutual activities involving natural resources.
  • Notify Tribes regarding change in Service policy or direction.
  • Inform Tribes of new laws enacted by congress that may affect Tribal governments or their resources.
  • Dismantle communication barriers between the Service and the Tribes.
  • Participate and/or attend Tribal (or Service) annual conferences, meetings or forums relating to mutual natural resource or fish and wildlife topics.
  • Coordinate Tribal project activities between the region and the Washington Office.
  • Coordinate Native American Liaison or Service and Tribal activities with other federal agencies' Native American coordinators and work cooperatively on mutual interests.


Last updated: October 28, 2021