Tribal Relations

Native American and Forest Ranger walking in tall grass.

Tony Romero and Pete Crowheart

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.

Forest Service policy in general states that the Forest Service will:

  • Maintain a governmental relationship with federally recognized tribal governments;
  • Implement our programs and activities honoring tribal rights and fulfill legally mandated trust responsibilities;
  • Administer programs and activities to address and be sensitive to traditional relations beliefs and practices; and
  • Provide research, transfer of technology, and technical assistance to Tribes.

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.


Tribal Relations Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan

The Forest Service Tribal Relations Program created a strategic plan to foster beneficial outcomes for the agency and for American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal governments and communities. The strategic plan (in PDF) identifies specific goals, objectives, and actions to guide the program through 2013.


Working Together: American Indian Tribes and the Forest Service improving Forest Service policy, programs and projects through consultation.


National News and Events Archive

Office of Tribal Relations

Keep track of news and events about Tribal Relations topics from the Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) Program.