Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

The U.S. Department of Interior announced it will begin initial conversations with tribal leaders beginning in March.

The announcement follows an executive order to uphold tribal consultation signed by President Joe Biden one week after being sworn into office.

The agency sent notices to every federally recognized tribe Thursday inviting them to participate in the upcoming sessions. Tribes were invited to provide written comments on the consultation series or can attend virtual meetings.

The virtual meetings will happen based on region, following this schedule:

  • Monday, March 8:
  • Great Plains, Midwest and Rocky Mountain regions
  • Wednesday, March 10:
  • Eastern, Eastern Oklahoma and Southern Plains regions
  • Wednesday, March 10:
  • Navajo, Southwest and Western regions
  • Friday, March 12:
  • Alaska, Northwest and Pacific regions

(Read: Joe Biden: ‘Tribal sovereignty will be a cornerstone’)

“Honoring our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes and upholding the trust and treaty responsibilities to them are paramount to fulfilling Interior’s mission,” said Ann Marie Bledsoe Downes who is Interior’s designated Tribal Governance Officer and Deputy Solicitor for Indian Affairs. She is a citizen of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

The Interior department says it provided tribal leaders with guidance to kickstart conversations.

In addition, the agency announced it has invited other federal agencies to send representatives to join the conversations.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com.

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