Tribal Relations

Warm Springs

The Forest Service recognizes American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians as people with distinct cultures and traditional values. We strive to be in the top tier of federal land managing agencies in partnering appropriately and collaboratively with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal governments and communities for mutually beneficial outcomes.

American Indians and Alaskan Natives have a unique legal and political relationship with the government of the United States. This relationship is defined by history, treaties, statutes, executive orders, policies, court decisions, and the US Constitution. Indigenous people live in every state and often near Forest Service administered lands. The relationships with Tribes that Forest Service personnel build, maintain, and enhance make a difference.

The Management Direct Forest Plan is, essentially, as follows:

  • Honor treat rights and privileges of Native Americans. Protect and preserve Native American ceded rights and privileges to access and use the Forest for traditional religious values
  • The treaty rights and privileges of Native Americans shall be honored. Treat rights and privileges should supersede other management direction
  • The Forest should not deny access to Native Americans for any area confirmed as traditionally used in connection with tribal ceremonial or traditional rites

Throughout the agency, line officers are responsible for cultivating and maintaining government-to-government relationships in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and agency policy.

Historical Background

Grande RondeIn 1997, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Forest and the Confederated Tribes set a framework for a working relationship for managing huckleberry resources.

That MOU ensured timely and consistent notification, consultation, coordination, and participation in each other’s planning and management activities affecting huckleberry habitat in the local area. That agreement was also vital in framing further working relationships related to roots, access, timber planning, recreation, and law enforcement issues.

In 2000 and again in 2004, Harmony Workshops at Warm Springs Reservation brought land managers from several National Forests and Bureau of Land Management together with the Confederated Tribes for a solid grounding in the history and culture of the Confederated Tribes. The workshops helped federal managers understand how to work more effectively with the Confederated Tribes on natural and cultural resource management.

The Harmony Workshops looked at an array of cultural and legal issues. They included tribal history, tribal culture, the 1855 Treaty, trust doctrine and trust responsibility, sovereignty, 1994 Presidential Executive Order, reservation lands (allotments, assignments, leases, fee lands), ceded lands, usual and accustomed lands, ancestral areas, integrated resource management planning, intergovernmental relationships, co-management authorities, and tribal government structure.


In January 2006, a signing of a Forest Restoration and Fuels Management Memorandum of Understanding between the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, the Forest Service, and BLM occurred which brings together federal land management agency efforts to treat thousands of acres of hazardous fuels, restore the health of Forests, and minimize catastrophic wildfire with the opportunity to reduce costs and to supply a proposed sustainable biomass power facility to be located at the Warm Springs mill site.

This ten-year agreement provides a framework committing the federal land management agencies within the geographic scope of the agreement to offer residual woody biomass from about 8,000 acres a year of vegetation management activities (about 80,000 “bone dry tons”) to fuel the proposed biomass facility.

Additional Resources