The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has a government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes. This special relationship is affirmed in treaties, Supreme Court decisions, and Executive Orders, and provides that FHWA and other Federal agencies consult with Tribes regarding policy and regulatory matters. Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) also requires that FHWA consult with Tribes for undertakings that may affect properties considered to have traditional religious and cultural significance. This tribal issues page provides information on tribal consultation and coordination, examples of streamlining initiatives, and links to various resources related to Tribes and historic preservation.
Tribal Consultation and Coordination
Tribal consultation and coordination is an essential element in achieving a streamlined product. The National Historic Preservation Act, including Section 106, requires Federal agencies to work with Indian Tribes that may have a cultural or religious association to historic properties affected by an agency's undertakings. The websites below provide guidance and additional information to help practitioners better implement their tribal consultation and coordination practices.
Tribal Transportation Planning Program — The Tribal Transportation Planning Program provides guidance and technical assistance to Federally-recognized tribes in an effort to achieve a more effective working relationship with Indian tribal governments.
North Dakota's Collaborative Approach — The North Dakota Division of FHWA and DOT have forged a unique agreement with multiple tribes, residing in or with an interest in the state, that facilitates ongoing consultation.
Tribal Consultation Best Practices — The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO) report on Tribal consultation best practices in historic preservation includes perspectives from Tribal governments and government agencies.
New Echota Cultural Resource Study — In an unprecedented and pro-active approach, Georgia FHWA and DOT teamed up to conduct this study of this National Historic Landmark site already recognized as the birthplace of the modern Cherokee government and the beginning of the Trail of Tears. View the video online at the Archaeology Channel.
Programmatic Agreements (PAs) with Tribes are effective tools to streamline projects. Below are two examples of existing Tribal PAs. For more examples of tribal consultation and coordination and successful streamlining practices, visit the State Streamlining Practices Database.
Wisconsin Native American Partnering Agreement — Signed On May 24, 2005. Representatives from nine of eleven Native American tribes joined with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Wisconsin Division Office in a ceremony at the State Capital to sign a Tribal Partnership Agreement that promotes communication and cooperation between the state and the tribes on transportation issues with the overall goal of fostering economic growth. Other components of the agreement will assist Native American-owned firms in bidding on transportation projects, establish additional coordination between WisDOT and tribes when transportation projects impact Native American archeological sites, and provide for cultural competency training to educate WisDOT staff on Native American customs and traditions.
Texas PA with Caddo Nation — The FHWA Texas Division office and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) have executed several PAs that guide tribal consultation with Federally-recognized Indian Tribes that are both resident and not resident in Texas. The agreement with the Caddo Tribe (who now prefer to be referred to as the Caddo Nation) designates TxDOT as the agency point of contact and specifies the types of projects and procedures for consultation in designated areas of Texas that the Caddo Nation has identified on a map that is referenced in this agreement. Several of these agreements have now been in force for several years and have been effective in streamlining project delivery.
 The NHPA defines "Indian Tribe" as "an Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community, including a Native village, Regional Corporation or Village Corporation, as those terms are defined in Section 3 of the Alaska Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1602), which is recognized as eligible for the special programs and services provided by the United States to Indians because of their status as Indians" (16 U.S.C. 470w)
For questions or feedback on this subject matter content, please contact Stephanie Stoermer.