Bridging the gaps that divide
The US Constitution provides that Native American tribes are sovereign-dependent nations and their interactions with the federal government, including the cession of the tribal lands that formed America, are governed by a complex set of treaties. For decades, federal law and public policies have defined the formal, legal relationship between agencies such as the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service (USDA FS) and federally recognized Indian tribes. However, this formalized partnership has never been an easy one, long strained by misunderstanding, misgivings, missed opportunities, and political expediency. When President William J. Clinton issued Executive Order 13175 (“Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments”; since approved and upheld by the two subsequent Administrations) in 1996, could any different outcome be expected?