Washington Report

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The Washington Report is an e-newsletter produced by the National Indian Health Board. Each issue contains a listing of current events on Capitol Hill, information on passed and upcoming legislation, Indian health policy analysis and action items.

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HHS Finalizes Tribal Consultation Policy After 3 Years of Collaboration

Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finalized and released its Tribal Consultation Policy. The finalization of the consultation policy is the culmination of nearly three years of collaboration between Tribal leaders and the Federal government. The revision process began in January 2021 when President Biden issued a Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation, which instructed all federal agencies to engage in meaningful and robust consultation with Tribal officials when formulating policy and making programmatic changes. In response to the memo, HHS began the process of updating its consultation policy. HHS worked with members of the HHS Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) to incorporate Tribal recommendations into the updated HHS Tribal Consultation Policy.

Over two years, Tribal leaders on the STAC worked with HHS staff to incorporate Tribal comments and recommendations to help draft a consultation policy that upholds the nation-to-nation relationship and honors the federal government’s Trust obligations. Through this process, Tribal leaders advocated for the inclusion of the principles of free, informed, and prior consent, principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. While the policy does not adopt the declaration directly, these principles are incorporated throughout the policy. Additionally, Tribal leaders helped align the purpose and objectives listed in the policy and include intertribal consortiums and organizations in the consultation process. You can find the updated HHS Tribal Consultation Policy here.

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