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Guide for Tribal Governments


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Albuquerque Tribal Program

In Albuquerque District’s area of responsibility, Native American Tribes control 80 percent of the land in the middle Rio Grande Valley.  For the Corps to be successful in addressing any water resource challenge in the valley, be it endangered species or drought, tribes must be intimately involved in developing potential solutions.

The District works with tribes to be successful in our mission to serve the nation.  Tribes can be powerful proponents or opponents to any undertaking.  By working closely with them, we can help our undertakings be more successful by putting tribes in the position of being advocates rather than blockers of projects.  The geographic location of tribes, especially in the West, makes them important partners in any effort.

Federal recognition of an Indian Tribe constitutes designation of a Native community as a political sovereign within the U.S. federalist system.  As a result, the Corps, as part of the federal government, has a unique ‘Trust relationship’ with each tribe based on the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, court decisions and executive orders.  That ‘Trust relationship’ requires the Corps to protect and preserve tribal resources to the greatest extent possible. 

US Army Corps of Engineers Tribal Policy Principles

TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recognizes that Tribal governments are sovereign entities, with rights to set their own priorities, develop and manage Tribal and trust resources, and be involved in Federal decisions or activities which have the potential to affect these rights. Tribes retain inherent powers of self-government.

TRUST RESPONSIBILITY - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will work to meet trust obligations, protect trust resources, and obtain Tribal views of trust and treaty responsibilities or actions related to the Corps, in accordance with provisions of treaties, laws and Executive Orders as well as principles lodged in the Constitution of the United States.

GOVERNMENT-TO-GOVERNMENT RELATIONS - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will ensure that Tribal Chairs/Leaders meet with Corps Commanders/Leaders and recognize that, as governments, Tribes have the right to be treated with appropriate respect and dignity, in accordance with principles of self-determination.

PRE-DECISIONAL AND HONEST CONSULTATION - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will reach out, through designated points of contact, to involve Tribes in collaborative processes designed to ensure information exchange, consideration of disparate viewpoints before and during decision making, and utilize fair and impartial dispute resolution mechanisms.

SELF RELIANCE, CAPACITY BUILDING, AND GROWTH - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will search for ways to involve Tribes in programs, projects and other activities that build economic capacity and foster abilities to manage Tribal resources while preserving cultural identities.

NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will act to fulfill obligations to preserve and protect trust resources, comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and ensure reasonable access to sacred sites in accordance with published and easily accessible guidance.