USACE Tribal Consultation Policy released to advance Tribal collaboration

By Lauren LeuckDecember 6, 2023

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

WASHINGTON – Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Michael L. Connor signed the Civil Works Tribal Consultation Policy yesterday to provide modernized guidance for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program. Under the Biden-Harris administration, the Army has prioritized strengthening Nation-to-Nation relationships with Tribal Nations in recognition of Tribal sovereignty and advancing self-determination.

“Through this policy and our actions, we are continuing a change of culture at USACE to be more inclusive of Tribal communities and better use our authorities to meet the challenges in Indian country,” Connor said. “We are working to achieve robust and meaningful engagement with Tribal leaders on critically important issues facing Native American communities, with the goal of better fulfilling federal trust responsibilities to Native people.”

This Tribal Consultation Policy reaffirms and strengthens the Army’s commitment to Tribal relationships by solidifying the definition of consultation, clarifying the Tribal Policy Principles, and establishing guidelines to USACE division and district commanders on execution of the policy and education regarding Tribal concerns. USACE Civil Works programs are conducted in accordance with the Tribal Policy Principles to ensure effective and mutually beneficial relationships that recognize and promote Tribal sovereignty and self-determination, honor the agency's trust responsibility, and build Tribal capacity.

The policy provides that the USACE will emphasize Tribal expertise and Indigenous Knowledge to the maximum extent. The Army is expanding on the USACE 2012 Tribal Consultation Policy following invaluable consultation and coordination with Tribal leaders.

“The Swinomish Tribal Community greatly appreciates the commitment to Tribal sovereignty and treaty rights that the Army Corps has demonstrated through its new Tribal Consultation Policy,” said Swinomish Tribal Chairman Steve Edwards. “The new policy honors Tribal expertise and traditional ecological knowledge in a respectful manner and sets us on a course to better work in partnership as we address ongoing challenges to protecting and restoring the natural resources that are central to our cultural lifeways and traditions.”

This new guidance will advance the Army’s ability to consult with and collaborate with Tribal Nations on the full breadth of issues that have direct effects on Tribal Nations, treaty rights or other reserved rights, and our nation’s trust responsibilities. The Tribal Consultation Policy can be found here and Mr. Connor's memo to USACE can be found here.

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works establishes policy direction and provides supervision of the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspects of the Civil Works Program of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. For more information, please contact Col. Alexander Bullock at or (703) 340-5750.