Native American Liaison
Northeast Region
DJ Monette
(413) 253-8662
Native American Liaison
Northeast Regional Office
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, MA 01035-9589

Native American Implementation Plan

On April 29, 1994, President William Jefferson Clinton, issued a Memorandum for Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the subject of Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments (Tribes). This memorandum addressed principles that Executive Departments and Agencies are to follow in their interactions with Tribes. Further, these principles clarified responsibilities of working within the Government-to-Government context and established a commitment to building more effective working relationships.

As a result of this Executive Order, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), on June 28, 1994, issued its Native American Policy (Policy), which set forth the principles that will guide the government-to-government relationship with Tribes in matters relative to fish and wildlife resources. To provide guidance and further clarification on how the Policy will be implemented in Region 5, a Tribal-Service Partnership Work Group was formed to develop this Regional Implementation Plan (Plan) which includes goals, objectives and action items.

This Plan is meant to provide a framework for the Service and the Tribes to use in developing meaningful government-to-government relationships in fishery and wildlife resource management. The Plan also addresses access to animal parts, access to Service-managed lands, and other natural resources for traditional and ceremonial uses. This Plan is dynamic and designed to be a working document.

The Service Native American Policy contains 10 principles that provide the framework within which the Service will cooperate with Tribes to conserve fish and wildlife resources. Each principle is addressed with appropriate action items to further the implementation process.

Click on each section title below to go directly to that section of the implementation plan.


The Service recognizes that the Federal Government has a unique legal relationship with Tribes as set forth in the Constitution of the United States (Constitution), treaties, statutes, executive orders, and court decisions. Native American Governments are referred to as quasi-sovereign domestic dependent nations by the courts, therefore, the Service is committed to operate within a government-to-government relationship with federally recognized Native American Tribes. In order to ensure that the Service builds a more effective day-to-day working relationship with Tribes, the Service will inform and educate all levels of the agency, the states, and the public on Tribal sovereignty and Federal trust responsibilities that define the Service's government-to-government relationship with Tribes.

Action Items:

1. All Service employees will be provided the opportunity to improve their understanding of Tribal sovereignty and the trust responsibility the Service has to Native American Tribes in issues related to fishery and wildlife resources. This will be accomplished through appropriate training including, but not limited to, seminars and conferences.

2. The Tribes will be invited to participate in the development and implementation of a cultural training program for Service employees. The Service will identify key personnel to attend and establish milestones to increase the percentage of employees trained each year.

3. Evaluations of each training session will be conducted through participant feedback to gauge the success of the training efforts, and improvements will be made to ensure a quality learning experience is provided.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, all Service programs, Tribes

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Realizing the cultural and traditional significance of fishery and wildlife resources to Tribes, the Policy's goal to ensure long-term conservation of these resources. It is incumbent upon the Tribes and the Service to work cooperatively to ensure that mutual benefits occur. In consideration of the fact that Tribes are sovereign and they have jurisdiction over matters regarding fishery and wildlife resource management on Tribal lands, the Service will consult directly with Tribes when Service actions affect or have the potential to affect Tribal fishery and wildlife resources.

Action Items:

1. The Service will contact the appropriate Tribal leader and the designated Tribal natural resource person when planning fish and wildlife activities that may affect Tribal resources.

2. The Service will maintain an updated Regional list of all appropriate Tribal contacts complete with phone numbers, addresses, faxes, and E-mail addresses.

3. To assist communications, the Tribes will be asked to provide the Service a functional directory.

4. The Service will provide to each Tribe a directory for the Regional Office and a field office listing with phone numbers and addresses.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison and Tribes

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Due to the unique and distinctive political relationship that exists between the United States Government and Native American Governments as defined by treaties, statutes, court decisions, executive orders, and the Constitution, the Service will maintain government-to-government relationships with Native American Governments. The Service will work directly with Tribes and respect Native American cultural values when planning and implementing programs.

Action Items:

1. The Service will maintain a current list of Tribal contacts. The list will be updated annually and provided to Service personnel who work with Tribes.

2. The Service and Tribes will work cooperatively to implement the Service's Native American Policy in Region 5.

3. For major joint ventures between the Service and the Tribes, the parties will enter into meaningful formal agreements (e.g., Statement of Relationships, Cooperative Agreements, Memorandum of Understanding). These agreements will clearly identify the roles, responsibilities and obligations of each party.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison and Tribes

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The Service supports empowering Tribes though PL. 93-638, Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act and also supports the rights of tribes to be self-governing, and their authority to manage, co-manage, or cooperatively manage fish and wildlife resources. The Service is committed to entering into contracts, cooperative agreements, or grants at the request of individual Tribes for fish and wildlife activities to the extent allowable under PL. 93-638 and in conformance with Department of the Interior rules and regulations.

Action Items:

1. The Service will provide written clarification to Tribes concerning the eligibility of Service programs under PL. 93-638.

2. Should Service programs be eligible under PL. 93-638, the Service will work cooperatively with Tribes to implement such programs.

3. The Service recognizes that Tribes desire to work with legislators to develop funding mechanisms to provide PL 93-638 opportunities.

Responsible Person/Program: Native American Liaison, Tribes , and Service contracting office

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The Service will consult with Native American Governments on issues of mutual interest. Upon request, the Service will encourage and facilitate communications among Native American Governments, States, Federal agencies, and others to identify respective roles and responsibilities and to ensure that issues of common interest and concerns are discussed.

Action Items:

1. The Service will provide copies of the Policy to State, Federal, and other agencies who may have interests in Native American fish and wildlife resource issues.

2. The Service will provide the opportunity for state, federal, and other agency employees to improve their understanding of Native American traditions and cultures through appropriate training forums.

3. The Service will make efforts to speak at conferences, symposia, and other forums to explain the provisions of the Policy and opportunities for collaboration. Opportunities may include the national and regional conferences of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, meetings of the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., New England Environmental Training Conference (NEETC) and other appropriate meetings and conferences.

4. The Service and the Tribes have established a Partnership Work Group (Work Group) to enhance communication and will strive to meet quarterly. The scheduling of Work Group meetings will coincide to the greatest extent possible with the scheduling of other Tribal training conferences and meetings. Conference calls in lieu of Work Group meetings will be considered as needed.

5. The Service will establish a contact for each Tribe. If possible, the Service Tribal contact will be from a Service field station located near Tribes and represent programs of interest to the respective tribe. The Service contact will meet at least annually with the assigned Tribe and will work with the Tribe to identify Service-Tribal fish and wildlife projects, assist in identifying Tribal budget needs, and coordinate technical assistance.

6. Tribes will be encouraged to participate in the Service's Ecosystem teams approach to fish and wildlife conservation in their respective watersheds.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, Tribes, State, Federal and other agencies

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Federal funding for Tribal fish and wildlife management activities is limited as Tribes are not eligible for Federal Aid funding through Pitman-Robinson, Dingell-Johnson, Wallop-Breaux, nor from Endangered Species Act Section 6. The Service will assist Tribes to identify federal and non-federal funding sources that are available to them. Possible funding sources include the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Heritage Programs, and private sources including the World Wildlife Fund, Wildlife Forever, Ducks Unlimited and Trout Unlimited.

Action Items:

1. The Service will assist Tribes in obtaining source documents or provide a list of individual

contacts for organizations that may provide funding for eligible fish and wildlife activities.

2. The Service and Tribes will jointly work on budget initiatives for the purpose of providing funds to promote fish and wildlife conservation on Tribal lands.

3. The Service will encourage State-Tribal partnerships in State-approved Federal aid projects and will facilitate meetings between States and Tribes as requested. Partnerships of this nature will in no way preempt or modify the authority or jurisdiction of the State or Tribe.

4. Subject to the availability of funds, the Action Items identified under Section IV also apply.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, all Service programs, Tribes, and State wildlife agencies

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In consideration of the unique cultural and traditional ways of Native American Tribes, the Service will involve Native American Governments in all Service actions that may affect their cultural or religious interests, including archaeological sites. The Service will be guided in this respect by such legislation as the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and any other legislation that may be applicable. The Service will provide Native Americans reasonable and safe access to Service managed or controlled lands and waters for exercising ceremonial, medicinal, and traditional activities recognized by the Service and by Native American Governments. The Service will permit these uses if the activities are consistent with treaties, judicial mandates, or Federal and Tribal law and are compatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established. To the extent possible, the Service will expedite processing and distribution of certain animal parts, such as eagle feathers, for recognized religious, ceremonial and cultural purposes in accordance with Federal laws.

Action Items:

1. The Tribes will be invited to participate in the Region 5 review of Service policies, rules, and regulations regarding the eagle permitting process with the intent to minimize delays and reduce the backlog of requests for animal parts, particularly eagle feathers. The Service will sponsor Tribal visits/workshops for interested Tribal members to review the permitting process and ways to improve Tribal access to feathers.

2. The Service will work with the state fish and wildlife agencies to ensure all available eagle carcasses are submitted to the National Eagle Repository as soon as possible. All state fish and wildlife agencies will be notified in writing, by July 31, 2001 , by the Regional Director.

3. The Service will work with Tribes and other federal agencies to assist interested Tribal members in the process/procedures to become a licensed migratory bird rehabilitator with access to permanently injured migratory birds.

4. The Service in collaboration with Tribes will work to enhance the quality of ecosystem habitat for the traditional use of foods, fish, flora and fauna.

5. Refuge Managers will consult with Tribes on a government-to-government basis to determine their interest for reasonable access for traditional activities.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, Division of Law Enforcement, Division of Migratory Birds and State Programs, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Department of Agriculture (Wildlife Services Division), Tribes

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The Service acknowledges law enforcement as an integral part of Tribal conservation programs. Realizing the benefits of a team approach in law enforcement, the Service encourages cooperation and coordination in law enforcement activities where appropriate. Upon request, the Service will assist in the formulation of cooperative law enforcement agreements and will evaluate Tribal law enforcement capabilities and provide recommendations for improving such capabilities. The Service will work with Tribes to improve capabilities and coordinate appropriate investigations that require the use of the Federal court system.

Action Items:

1. In 2001, the Service will consult with the Tribes to determine what type of law enforcement technical assistance is needed and available through the Service.

2. The Service will work with interested Tribes to develop Cooperative Law Enforcement Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) to share law enforcement expertise and assist in providing effective law enforcement of Federal and Tribal laws.

3. The Service and Tribes will issue a press release and notify appropriate State/Federal agencies to publicize the signing of Cooperative Law Enforcement MOAs.

4. The Service will contact other Federal and State law enforcement agencies to encourage coordination and cooperation with Tribal wildlife law enforcement efforts.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, Division of Law Enforcement, Refuge Managers and Tribal Conservation Law Enforcement Division

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The Service acknowledges the success of this Policy is contingent upon the availability of funding and quality of technical assistance provided to Tribes. It is important to provide as much technical assistance as reasonably possible to ensure the success of Tribal conservation efforts, therefore, the Service will make available technical expertise from all Service program areas to assist Native American Governments in the management of their fish and wildlife resources, and assist them in developing their own technical expertise. The Service will develop partnership agreements with Native American Governments with regard to the cooperation and exchange of technical expertise in areas of mutual interest including the conservation and recovery of threatened and endangered species and migratory birds. Realizing the importance of the confidentiality of information collected on Tribal lands, the Service will not share or release this information without the consent of the Tribes or as required by law.

Action Items:

1. The Service will provide a written summary of the type of technical assistance available within all Service programs.

2. In consultation with the Service, the Tribes will determine the types of technical assistance that may be needed.

3. The Service will contact other federal and state agencies to encourage partnerships with Tribal efforts particularly in areas of mutual concern.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, all Service programs, and Tribes

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The Service realizes that the key to Tribal self-sufficiency in fishery and wildlife resource management is proper training and education, therefore, Native American Governments will be provided the same access to Service training programs as are other government agencies. The Service will make its law enforcement expertise available to Native American Governments and will provide assistance in the development, implementation and improvement of their fish and wildlife law enforcement programs. The Service will also provide law enforcement training as needed. The Service will facilitate the education of Native Americans by providing access to innovative education programs and on-the-job training opportunities.

The Service will establish partnerships and cooperative relationships with Tribal educational institutions to assist in developing natural resources curricula or implementing cooperative education programs. The Service will also ensure that Native American schools are included its environmental education outreach programs. The Service is also committed to developing active, innovative and aggressive recruitment programs to attract qualified Native Americans. The Service also realizes that meaningful interaction with Tribes is enhanced if each employee becomes more familiar with Native American cultural and traditional values. To that end, the Service will work with Tribes to help Service employees gain that knowledge and understanding. Finally, the Service will work with Tribes to educate the public about Tribal laws, regulations, and views regarding fishery and wildlife resource management.

Action Items:

1. The Service will issue a memorandum from the Regional Director to all employees in support of the Native American Policy and the Regional Implementation Plan and encourage all employees to read them.

2. The Service will ensure that Service, State wildlife, and other interested personnel have the opportunity to improve their understanding of Native American traditions, cultural and religious values by attending forums, conferences, and seminars.

3. The Service will provide to each Tribe the annual training catalog and other notices of training opportunities available from the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), located in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, and from other training institutes as notices become available.

4. The Service will work annually with Tribes to identify training opportunities (such as NCTC courses and other training sources) to meet tribal fish and wildlife management training needs.

5. The Service will work in conjunction with educational institutions to provide educational programs and on-the-job training opportunities for qualified Native American students. Within budget constraints, the Service will establish cooperative education opportunities through the Service's Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and seek qualified Native American students for the SCEP program.

6. The Service, through its Region 5 website, will provide information on the Policy and other Service-Tribal cooperative efforts in fish and wildlife management.

7. The Service will make every effort to speak at conferences, symposia, and other forums to explain the Policy. The Service will also provide opportunities to states and other interested organizations to learn about the Policy, Native American cultures and traditions as they relate to fishery and wildlife management, and the goals and accomplishments of Tribal conservation efforts.

8. The Service will enhance efforts to recruit qualified Native Americans and initiate a more aggressive recruitment program.

Responsible Person/Programs: Native American Liaison, all Service program managers, Tribal, State and other governmental entities, and appropriate educational institutions

Approved:  M.A. Parker, Regional Director                  February 12, 2001    
                                    Regional Director                                              Date

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Last updated: August 29, 2013
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