Native American Affairs Program

Policies, Procedures, and Guidance for Working With
Federally Recognized Indian Tribes

Featured Resources:
Consultation With Indian Tribes and the Government-to-Government Relationship
Cultural Resources and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
Endangered Species
Environmental Justice
Grants and Cooperative Agreements With Indian Tribes
Indian Sacred Sites
Indian Trust Responsibility
Overarching Indian Policy
Title Transfer of Reclamation Projects

The obligation for Federal agencies to engage with Indian tribes on a government-to-government basis is based on the
U.S. Constitution and Federal treaties, statutes, executive orders, and policies.  Federal agencies help to meet that obligation through meaningful consultation with Indian tribes.

Mandates require Reclamation and other Federal agencies to identify, evaluate, and encourage preservation of cultural resources; manage museum property collections; and consult with an array of interested parties.  NAGPRA establishes rights of Indian tribes of certain cultural items held or controlled by Federal agencies and museums that receive Federal funds.

  • Cultural Resources—Visit Reclamation's "Cultural Resources Management" website, maintained by the Federal Preservation Officer in Reclamation's Policy and Programs.  This site includes links to Reclamation Cultural Resources Policies and Directives and Standards.
    (Reclamation's "Cultural Resources Management" Website)

  • NAGPRA—Visit the national NAGPRA website, maintained by the National Park Service (NPS).  Reclamation's Cultural Resources Management website (listed above) also includes information about NAGPRA.
    (National Park Service's NAGPRA Website)

Secretarial Order No. 3206 was issued to clarify the responsibilities of component agencies—bureaus and offices of the
U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Commerce—when actions taken under authority of the Endangered Species Act and associated implementing regulations affect, or may affect, Indian lands, Tribal trust resources, or the exercise of American Indian Tribal rights.

  • Secretarial Order No. 3206, "American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act," June 5, 1997.
    (Adobe PDF)

  • Secretarial Order No. 3225, "Endangered Species Act and Subsistence Uses in Alaska (Supplement to Secretarial Order 3206)," January 19, 2001.  Note:  Pertains to Alaska only.
    (Adobe PDF)

  • Working with Tribes | Frequently Asked Questions—Visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's "Endangered Species" website for questions and answers regarding Secretarial Order No. 3206, "American Indian Tribal Rights, Federal-Tribal Trust Responsibilities, and the Endangered Species Act."
    (U.S. Fish and Wildlife's "Endangered Species" Website)

Per Executive Order 12898 of February 1994, Federal agencies are to ensure no racial, ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic group disproportionately bears the negative environmental consequences resulting from governmental programs, policies, or activities. The order also asks that these programs, policies, and activities be conducted in a manner that does not have the effects of exclusion or discrimination toward minority, low income, or Tribal populations.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a partnership to better address environmental justice and economic development issues in accordance with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 4332) and the mandate of Executive Order 12898.

Source of authority for Reclamation to enter into grants and cooperative agreements with Indian tribes, institutions of higher education, national Indian organizations, and Tribal organizations. Note:  There is a slight difference between versions of this provision, specifically between the Public Law and the United State Code, therefore, it is recommended that the statute be referred to, which is included here.

  • Statute, 43 USC Sec. 373d, "Grants and cooperative agreements with Indian tribes and organizations," January 5, 2009.
    (Adobe PDF)

Reclamation has a commitment to manage Federal lands under its jurisdiction to 1) accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners and 2) avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.

All U.S. Department of the Interior agencies, including Reclamation, share the Secretary's duty to act responsibly to protect Indian trust assets.

Reclamation is committed to being respectful of Tribal sovereignty and to upholding its Overarching Indian Policy, which states:

    “The Bureau of Reclamation will comply with both the letter and the spirit of Federal laws and policies relating to Indians; acknowledge and affirm the special relationship between the United States and Federally recognized Indian tribes; and actively seek partnerships with Indian tribes to ensure that tribes have the opportunity to participate fully in the Reclamation Program as they develop and manage their water and related resources.”  (Indian Policy of the Bureau of Reclamation, February 25, 1998)

  • "Indian Policy of the Bureau of Reclamation," Reclamation Manual Policy NIA P10, July 24, 2014; Last Minor Revision September 24, 2020
    (Adobe PDF)

  • "Authority," Reclamation Manual Policy NIA P10—Appendix A, July 24, 2014; Last Minor Revision September 24, 2020
    (Adobe PDF)

Title VIII of Public Law 116-9 authorizes Reclamation to transfer title to certain eligible facilities under certain conditions to qualifying entities without special authorization from the Congress.  Note:  There could be other specific statutes governing title transfer, such as Public Law 93-638, Indian Water Rights Settlements, etc.

  • Title Transfer—Visit Reclamation’s Title Transfer Program website.  This site also includes links to the Reclamation Manual Directives and Standards CMP 11-01, "Title Transfer for Reclamation Project Facilities."
    (Reclamation’s "Title Transfer of Projects and Facilities" Website)

  • "Criteria and Principles for Title Transfer," no date—Summary of 2004 Revised Framework for the Transfer of Title.
    Note:  Some criteria pertain to Native American concerns.
    (Adobe PDF)


Last Updated: 10/5/21