The purpose of the new advisory committee is “to assist HUD to further develop and maintain its Indian housing programs.”

HUD Finalizes Tribal Consultation Policy

Mark Fogarty

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has acknowledged tribal sovereignty by finalizing its tribal consultation policy and planning to establish a tribal advisory committee.

HUD revised its tribal consultation policy after regional meetings with tribes and a national comment period.

The federal agency is seeking comments (it is accepting them through July 23) for its proposed Tribal Intergovernmental Advisory Committee.

The committee structure calls for tribal recommendations on HUD programs and policies and for tribes to have an enhanced role in advising on HUD’s tribal housing priorities.

The new acknowledgments of tribal self-determination have been in the works for several years and proceed from President Obama’s 2009 re-affirmation of a government-to-government status between the federal government and Indian nations. The regional consultations began in 2010.

The purpose of the new advisory committee is “to assist HUD to further develop and maintain its Indian housing programs.”

HUD noted that several other federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Treasury Department have such advisory committees.

According to a notice in the Federal Register, the structure of the new committee will be up to eight tribal representatives and up to four HUD officials. One of the tribal representatives will be voted chairman of the committee. Tribal delegates will serve terms of two years apiece.

The committee will meet at least twice a year in person, and can also meet by teleconference as desired.

HUD published several principles of its tribal consultation policy in the Federal Register, many of them specifically acknowledging sovereignty.

“HUD respects tribal sovereignty and acknowledges the unique relationship between the Federal Government and tribes,” the agency declared. “HUD recognizes and commits to a government to government relationship with federally recognized tribes.”

It also pledged to remove impediments to dealing directly with tribes.

The consultation policy will be used in HUD’s planning and management activities, including budgets, operating guidance, legislative initiatives, management accountability system, and others.

HUD also re-stated its fundamental principles on tribal relationships: “The United States has a unique relationship with Indian tribal governments as set forth in the Constitution of the United States, treaties, statutes and executive orders, and court decisions.”

It continued “Our nation has recognized the right of Indian tribes to self government.”

Self-determination was at the heart of the landmark 1996 Native American Housing Assistance and Self Determination Act (NAHASDA), which took control of Indian housing allocations away from HUD and put it in the hands of Indian tribes or their tribally-designated housing entities (TDHEs).

HUD and tribes undertook a comprehensive negotiated rulemaking to determine how the dictates of NAHASDA would be implemented. NAHASDA is now up for re-authorization before Congress.

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