President Joe Biden issued a Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships on Jan. 26, 2021, requiring each federal agency to develop a plan of action on how it proposes to engage in regular, meaningful and robust consultation with Tribal Nations.
Following the Memorandum, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) sent a Dear Tribal Leader letter that requested input on the formation of its action plan. Comments must be submitted to DoD on or before March 8, 2021, by email at DoD_NativeAffairs@keresnm.com. In the letter, dated Feb. 8, 2021, DoD specifically requested input on a number of items, including how to:
- enhance its consultation efforts
- identify procedures to ensure that consultation is regular, meaningful and robust
- build awareness among tribal leaders of DoD polices on consultation
- improve DoD's Instruction 4710.02: DoD Interactions with Federally Recognized Tribes
- enhance the capacity of military installation leaders and staff to engage effectively with tribes and foster stronger nation-to-nation relationships
- protect tribal lands, rights and resources from the impacts related to the ongoing operations of military installations and training activities
- measure the progress of its ongoing efforts to consult and coordinate with tribes
- promote the success of DoD-tribal partnerships and collaborative efforts
- address legacy pollution of tribal lands due to past DoD activity
- recognize the service and sacrifice of Native American veterans
- communicate with tribes and tribal-owned businesses about opportunities to work with DoD
Given the number of 8(a) and other government contracting opportunities available through DoD, and DoD's significant influence over procurement policy, Holland & Knight encourages tribal governments, Native Hawaiian Organizations and Alaska Native Corporations to weigh in with substantial feedback on how DoD can increase 8(a) and other government contracting opportunities, identify and remove barriers that hinder collaboration with DoD, and establish new and creative partnerships to spur economic development in Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
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