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Tribal Consultations

FEMA recognizes the nation to nation relationship between the U.S. government and federally recognized tribes. To acknowledge and honor the sovereignty of tribal nations, FEMA conducts regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal governments to ensure that FEMA policies and programs address tribal needs.

FEMA's Tribal Consultation Policy, updated in July 2019 with input from tribes, outlines the process that FEMA officials use to conduct consultation with tribal governments.

Current Consultations

FEMA Holds Virtual Listening Session on Pandemic Assistance for Tribal Nations

On March 13, 2020, the President declared a nationwide emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act. Additionally, all states and territories and one tribal nation have received major disaster declarations. As a result, tribal nations have applied for assistance from FEMA as Public Assistance Recipients or Subrecipients under an emergency or major disaster declaration.

On December 8, FEMA’s Recovery Directorate, in partnership with FEMA’s Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs Division, is hosting a virtual listening session to consult with tribal nations on Recovery policies and their implementation and impact during our continuous response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, FEMA would like to hear about tribal experiences as Recipients of FEMA Public Assistance and opportunities to improve tribal program delivery. During the listening session, Recovery staff will provide a brief overview of Public Assistance Category B: Emergency Protective Measures, the policies and guidance listed above, tribal inquiries received by Recovery, and an opportunity for tribal leaders to provide additional input and feedback on Recovery programs.

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On December 8, 2020, FEMA hosted a virtual listening session with tribal leaders that discussed Recovery coronavirus (COVID-19) policies, guidance and their implementation and impact on tribal nations.

Disaster Recovery and Reform Act

FEMA is currently seeking input from federally recognized Indian tribal governments on specific provisions of the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018 (DRRA).  DRRA reforms acknowledge the expectation of a shared, whole community responsibility for disaster response and recovery, while readying the nation for catastrophic disasters.

To fully implement the DRRA, FEMA must issue numerous policy or regulation changes to existing emergency management statutes.

FEMA will present at conferences and association meetings, host webinars and conference calls; announce on regularly scheduled calls with stakeholders through the consultation period that extends through 2020.

Disaster Recovery Reform Act Tribal Consultation

Past Consultations

These are records of past FEMA tribal consultations in reverse chronological order. These documents are no longer open for comment.

FEMA Tribal Consultation Policy: June - August  2017

FEMA updated the Tribal Consultation Policy which guides how FEMA engages tribal governments with regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration on actions that have tribal implications. The policy was updated to reflect current authorities, best practices, the recommendations from the Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) report titled "Tribal Consultation: Additional Federal Actions Needed for Infrastructure Projects (GAO-19-22)", and tribal input. This updated policy supersedes the FEMA Tribal Consultation Policy dated August 12, 2014 and all previous guidance on the subject.

FEMA Tribal Policy: August - October 2016

The FEMA Tribal Policy was revised and updated following the tribal consultation period from August 22, 2016 to October 28, 2016 and superseded the previous FEMA Tribal Policy, which was effective from 2013-2016. The policy was updated based on tribal input, current authorities, key policy questions, and continued efforts to improve the Agency’s nation-to-nation relationship with tribal governments.

Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance Second Draft: January - April 2016

FEMA conducted a third round of consultation on the second draft guidance with tribal governments through listening sessions throughout the country in 2016. The input received will be used to develop the final guidance. Federal Register Notice. For more information, please visit the Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance page.

FEMA Sought Comments on PDA Manual: November 2015

FEMA sought comments from state, tribal, and local emergency management practitioners on the draft Preliminary Damage Assessment Operating Manual. The manual established national damage assessment standards developed from historic lessons learned and best-practices already in use by local, state, tribal and federal emergency management agencies.

Tribal Declarations Pilot Guidance First Draft: April - August 2014

This guidance describes how FEMA will process and evaluate requests from tribal governments for a disaster declaration, independent of a state. FEMA developed the first draft of guidance, using input from tribal governments in 2013.

Consultation on the Tribal Consultation Policy: October 2013 - August 2014

FEMA created a draft tribal consultation policy and sought feedback from all federally recognized tribes. The tribal consultation policy establishes a process to guide FEMA officials on how to engage tribes and tribal Officials in regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration on actions that have tribal implications. The final policy was published in August 2014.

Consultation on Procedures to Request Emergency or Major Disaster Declarations: March-April 2013

This consultation requested tribal comment on the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013 and on the new process for tribal emergency and major disaster declarations.