W. Craig Fugate, Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator, is a strong supporter of engagement with tribes.

FEMA Ups Tribal Engagement With New Consultation Policy

ICTMN Staff
8/26/14

Building on last year’s Stafford Act amendment making tribes eligible to apply directly for federal disaster aid, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has upped its engagement with tribes even further.

Calling it a “new phase of engagement and collaboration with American Indian and Alaskan Native tribes,” FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced the establishment of a new Tribal Consultation Policy to foster “regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials on Agency actions that have tribal implications,” as well as emphasizing the importance of consultation when it comes to Indian country.

“This policy strengthens FEMA’s effort to support the emergency management needs of Indian Country,” Fugate said in a statement. “Providing direct Federal assistance to Tribal governments has been a top priority for FEMA, and this policy will ensure that Tribal leaders continue to have a voice in shaping how FEMA partners with communities before, during and after disasters.”

In January 2013, President Barack Obama signed the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013, which included changes to the Stafford Act that allow tribes to exercise their sovereignty and request aid instead of doing so through state governments.

RELATED: President Obama Signs Law Putting Tribes on Equal Footing as States for Federal Emergency Aid

Since then several tribes have requested and been granted such aid after disasters.

RELATED: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians First to Receive Disaster Aid Under Amended Law

6 Tribes That Took Advantage of Amendment for FEMA Relief in 2013

FEMA is the second major agency in as many months to establish policies specifically geared toward enhancing communication and consultation with tribes. In July the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized an environmental justice policy to support American Indians, as well as giving out grants for environmental health research on issues specifically affecting tribes.

RELATED: EPA Finalizes Environmental Justice Policy Supporting Indigenous Peoples

FEMA’s Tribal Consultation Policy, finalized on August 12, is online and available for download. In addition, a section of FEMA's website is also devoted to Tribal Consultation.

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Chinook Duffy
Chinook Duffy
Submitted by Chinook Duffy on
So, if FEMA was adhering to White House Tribal Consultation Executive Orders all along...why hasn't FEMA hired even ONE bonafide Tribal Liaison to any of it's 10 Regions? Despite recent Senate Hearing's to investigate FEMA's failed tribal interests, FEMA hasn't changed anything about their continued disinterest to follow federal law. FEMA trotted out 'Response & Recovery' at the Senate Hearing instead of sending an External Affairs staffer. E-A is the division which is 100% responsible for overseeing all FEMA-Tribal consultation interactions. FEMA sent a 'false' puppet to testify instead of E-A. There's two Directors in EA, one who manages Intergovernmental Affairs, and the other oversees External Affairs. Tribes need to demand 'why' FEMA refused to send either Director to testify before Senator Begich. And more questions remain unanswered: Why won't FEMA train and certify any of it's tribal liaisons (permanent hire or reservists)? Why does FEMA HQ National Cadre/Reservist Management send untrained, unqualified 'fake' tribal liaison reservists to Tribal Nations? Why won't FEMA External Affairs bother to give their new Tribal Liaison a full staff and divisional support? Why did FEMA allow a political appointee to racially attack External Affairs staff for years (Fugate was directly briefed about it)...and then promote that individual to a Director Position? How can FEMA legally give federal job titles to 'tribal liaisons' without any certified training? Why doesn't DHS demand a FULL investigation into FEMA's fake tribal titles and refusal to honor it's legal obligations to tribes? Tribes MUST DEMAND that FEMA only sends 100% certified, trained, 'real' tribal representatives to work with them. Tribes need to critically interview the so-called tribal backgrounds of personnel FEMA sends to them. So far, FEMA HQ has sent 'tribal liaisons' who have NO disaster experience, NO training, and ZERO tribal experience. -FEMA keeps trying to trick tribes into thinking they are getting quality help/assistance. Tribes have to stand their ground and demand real consultation. If tribes asked Fugate and every FEMA Regional Administrator if their Regional Tribal Liaisons were legit hires...FEMA would lie and cover up the truth.
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