Band takes strong role in talks


Biden Executive Order requires agencies to consult with tribes

On January 26, President Biden signed a memorandum titled “Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships“ declaring, “It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy.“ The Presidential Memorandum goes on to convey the administration's commitment to fulfilling the consultation requirements of Executive Order 13175, a directive originally issued by President Clinton on November 6, 2000.

Mille Lacs Band officials have taken part in numerous consultations in recent months, and Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin has been contacted directly by the White House on several occasions since the Biden-Harris team took office January 20.

President Biden also directs each agency to submit a detailed plan of action to implement Executive Order 13175. These plans “shall be developed after consultation by the agency with Tribal Nations and Tribal officials.“ All plans are to be submitted to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within 90 days (April 26, 2021).

Biden’s proclamation has led to a flurry of activity among tribes and federal agencies, which have never before participated in such extensive talks. The list of consultations that have already taken place is a long one.

As of April 7, 13 agencies had published deadlines for written comments and consultations: Agriculture, Defense, Health and Human Services, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Interior, Labor, State, Treasury, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs.

Within each agency are many departments that have held their own consultations, including Social Security, Small Business, AmeriCorps, Personnel, Management and Budget, etc. In addition, agencies have held regional consultations.