What is Tribal Consultation?
Federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations are sovereign governments recognized under the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes, Executive Orders and court decisions.
Tribal consultation is broadly defined as a process of meaningful government-to-government communication and coordination between U.S. government agencies and tribal governments before an agency takes actions or implements decisions (“undertakings”) that may affect tribes or tribal interests. Federal consultation practices have been established as federal government policy in several presidential directives (Clinton, G.W. Bush, Obama, Biden). Numerous states and municipalities have also sought to include input from Tribal Governments when their actions are thought to affect tribal interests.
The City of Boulder respects and honors American Indian Tribal sovereignty and self-determination and conducts engagement projects and government-to-government consultations with appointed Representatives from federally recognized Tribal Nations that share agreements with the city. The city follows federal and state consultation guidelines and guidance for consultations with Tribal Nations, including those that share agreements with the city. It also bases its consultation practices on guidance and desires provided by Tribal Representatives during ongoing consultations. The city recognizes and understands that it needs better standard practices to collaborate with local Indigenous community members on a broader, community-wide basis.
Guiding Resolutions, Plans and Policies
City of Boulder efforts to engage and consult with American Indian Tribal Nations are guided by the plans, policies and documents:
- Four agreements the City of Boulder shares with federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations
- Ongoing engagement conversations and government-to-government consultations with American Indian Tribal Nations.
- Final statements from 2019 and 2021 consultations with Tribal Nations.
- The city’s 2016 Indigenous People’s Day Resolution. In 2016, in collaboration with community members and the Human Relations Commission, Boulder City Council adopted Resolution No. 1190, a resolution declaring the second Monday of October of each year to be Indigenous Peoples Day.
- A staff land acknowledgement developed with guidance from American Indian Tribal Nations and the Boulder community.
- Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) Master Plan.
- The city's Racial Equity Plan.
Consultation Final Statements
The City of Boulder invited these American Indian Tribal Nations to participate in a March 2022 consultation:
- Apache Tribe of Oklahoma
- Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
- Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
- Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
- Eastern Shoshone Tribe
- Jicarilla Apache Nation
- Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma
- Northern Arapaho Tribe
- Northern Cheyenne Tribe
- Oglala Sioux Tribe
- Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
- Rosebud Sioux Tribe
- Southern Ute Indian Tribe
- Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
- Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
- Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah & Ouray Reservation
As common with government-to-government consultations, the City of Boulder-Tribal consultations are typically closed sessions in order to facilitate conversations among city staff, Tribal Representatives and elected and appointed community leaders. Those conversations may include sensitive topics, such as sacred traditions and stories, along with the location of Native American cultural resources.
However, the city recognizes the public interest in citywide consultations with American Indian Tribes. Staff seek permission from Tribal Representatives to develop a joint city-tribal statement at the end of each consultation. City staff create these collaborative statements in partnership with Tribal Representatives. When in-person, there is also an effort to provide community members the opportunity to attend pre and post consultation discussions, such as the opening and closing sessions.
City-Tribal Nation Agreements
The City of Boulder has four agreements with 13 federally recognized American Indian Tribal Nations, which were developed during previous consultations during the late 1990s and the early-to-mid 2000s. Broadly, these agreements recognize tribes and the city had common interests, including:
- Preserving open space and cultural resources on city land.
- Providing opportunities for ceremonial practices on city open space.
- Notifying tribes if Native American cultural resources are inadvertently discovered on Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) land.
The four agreements the city currently has with American Indian Tribal Nations are:
City-Tribal Nation consultations in the late 1990s and early 2000s led to four Memorandums of Understanding – which focus on city open space – that the city shares with Tribal Nations:
- 1999 Memorandum of Understanding-A: The City of Boulder and American Indian Tribal Nations agreed to create a spiritual, moral and policy partnership to protect the land south of Boulder.
- Memorandum of Understanding-B: The City of Boulder and Tribal Nations agreed to obtain approval for a city-administered utility easement for an area in south Boulder and to provide for a tribal monitor during then-proposed, ground-disturbing work. The city also agreed to provide reasonable ﬁre protection services for permitted tribal cultural use of a protected area during ﬁre bans.
- 2002 Memorandum of Understanding: The 2002 MOU provides the critical foundation for the proposed MOU, which has been discussed at city consultations in 2019, 2021 and 2022. Read the MOU online. The 2002 MOU outlined several city-Tribal Nation agreements regarding cultural resource consultations, Tribal Nation notiﬁcation of funerary objects and human remains and ceremonial access requiring temporary structures and/or ﬁre.
- Amendment to 2002 MOU: The city and Tribal Nations agreed to update the procedures related to ceremonies involving ﬁre and temporary structures – such as tipis and sweat lodges – on Valmont Butte east of Boulder.