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U.S. Forest Service Tribal Relations

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Tribal Relations
Tribal Relations

Forest Service National Resource Guide to American Indian and Alaska Native Relations


To describe and improve implementation of the Forest Service’s American Indian/Alaska Native Policy (FSM 1563), the Washington Office appointed a task group to create a National Tribal Resource Book. The creation of this book was part of a remarkable convergence of people and events. In 1994, President Bill Clinton held a Tribal Summit, hosting elected representatives from all Federally Recognized tribal governments within the United States, where he articulated the government-to-government policy of his administration.

Managing ecosystems involves coordination and communication across administrative boundaries. Customer service, as articulated by President Clinton and former Forest Service Chief Jack Ward Thomas, is the order of the day; and reinvention in the public sector challenges us all to reexamine the way we are doing business to see if it can be done better. Tribal governments figure prominently in all of these topics.

This book is intended only to improve the implementation of the Forest Service’s American Indian and Alaska Native Policy; it is not intended to nor does it create enforceable rights.

The Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry, carries out the American Indian and Alaska Native program servicewide and in the Washington Office. Regional Foresters, Station Directors, and Area Directors are responsible for establishing and implementing an effective American Indian and Alaska Native program. Line and staff at all organizational levels are responsible for implementing a comprehensive American Indian and Alaska Native program (FSM 1563.04).

This resource book provides Forest Service leadership with critical information to develop or improve government-to-government relations with all Federally Recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes.

While the information in this document is national in scope, Forest Service regions and national forests may create their own resource books to supplement topics and more specifically address tribal governments within their local areas.

This document reflects the following key principles:

  • Indian tribal governments possess inherent powers of self-government.
  • No two tribal governments are exactly alike.
  • There are no single or standard answers for any given issue that can be equally applied to all tribes.
  • Forests and regions need to communicate and consult directly with each sovereign tribe about related laws, treaties, policies, and Forest Service activities.

Tribal governments have reviewed this book.


This resource book could not have been completed without the commitment and passion of the American Indian/Alaska Native Policy Task group. Their commitment to the Forest Service and its mission, as well as their passion for and vision of servicewide implementation of the Forest Service’s American Indian/Alaska Native Policy made the creation of this book a reality. It is with sincere appreciation and gratitude that we recognize the following committee members:

  • Pat Aguilar, Assistant Director, State and Private Forestry, Rocky Mountain Region
  • Mike Beckes, Regional Archeologist, Regional Office, Northern Region
  • Betty Blair, Forest Service Liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency, Land Use Planning, Washington Office
  • Norene Blair, Public Affairs Specialist, Washington Office
  • Marsha Butterfield, Realty Specialist, Lands, Washington Office
  • Tim Curtis, Tribal Government Program Manager, Eastern Region (retired)
  • Evan DeBloois, Federal Preservation Officer, Heritage, Washington Office
  • John Foss, Alaska Native Liaison Officer, Regional Office, Alaska Region
  • Paul Haarala, Realty Specialist, Washington Office (retired)
  • Dean Graham, Regional Office, Intermountain Region
  • Susan Johnson, Forest Health Management Biologist, Regional Office, Rocky Mountain Region
  • Ira Jones, Tribal Government Program Manager, Regional Office, Northern Region (retired)
  • Joseph D. Mitchell, Natural Resource Manager, Washington Office (detached), Fort Collins, CO
  • Jill Osborn, Heritage, Washington Office (detached), Boise, ID
  • Joyce Patterson, Illustrator, Rocky Mountain Station
  • Allen Pinkham, Nez Perce Tribal Government Liaison, Northern Region
  • Rhey Soloman, Deputy Director, Ecosystem Management, Washington Office
  • Jim Smalls, Regional Office, Eastern Region
  • Sonia Tamez, Program Manager, Tribal Relations, Regional Office, Pacific Southwest Region
  • Bob Tippeconnie, Tribal Government Program Manager, Washington Office (retired)
  • Shirley Twiggs-Johnson, Tribal Government Program Manager, Regional Office, Southern Region
  • Gilbert Vigil, Acting Director, Cooperative and International Forestry, Southwestern Region
  • Rich Williamson, Personnel, Regional Office, Northern Region (retired)
  • Arnold Wilson, Southwestern Region
  • Cheryle Zwang, Public Affairs Specialist, Regional Office, Northern Region

Last modified: 10:43:27 7-Oct-2016