Tribal Relations

Our Commitment

Our commitment at the Forest Service is to work with tribal partners to achieve healthy and resilient landscapes both now and for generations to come.

Meet your R5 Tribal Relations Specialist

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.

Policy

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.

Cultural Resources on Federal Land are protected by Law. 

It is Illegal to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise deface any archaeological resource located on public or Indian lands. Damage to archaeological sites in excess of $500 is a felony punishable by up to $250,000 in fines and imprisonment for up to two years for the first offence. All materials, equipment, and vehicles used in the commission of such crimes are subject to forfeiture. Learn more about the protection of cultural resources.

Features

Traditional Gathering: The Policy

A basket of traditional plants.

A Joint Project of the USFS and BLM in coordination with the California Indian Basketweavers' Association and the California Indian Forest and Fire Management Council, and agency staff.

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Tribal Relations Strategic Plan Assessment (PDF 917 KB)

Tribal Relations Strategic Plan Assessment Thumbnail Image shows a stream reflecting clouds

The Tribal Relations Program Assessment (TRPA) was developed through a committee consisting of region staff personnel, forest personnel, forest supervisors and tribal members from the region.  Region 5, in partnership with the Udall Foundation, has assembled a Tribal Relations Strategic Plan (TRSP) working group that is comprised of tribal members and forest service personnel.  The working group will convene in March 2022 to discuss how the TRSP will support improving Tribal Relations Program delivery and identifying priorities for the next five years. 

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