Tribal Consultations

Honoring Commitments and Building Relationships

Since the formation of the Union, the United States (U.S.) has recognized Indian Tribes as sovereign nations. Integral to this unique government-to-government relationship is the formal process of Consultation. Through Consultation, Tribal Nations provide meaningful and timely input on potential actions by Federal agencies that may significantly affect them. Characterized by an emphasis on trust, respect, and shared responsibility, Tribal Consultation is an open and free exchange of information.

The Federal-Tribal relationship is grounded in the U.S. Constitution, treaties, statutes, Federal case law, regulations, and has been reaffirmed through executive orders. Most recently, President Biden issued an Executive Memorandum on January 26, 2021 emphasizing the Federal government’s commitment charging all executive departments and agencies with engaging in “regular, meaningful, and robust consultation” with Tribal officials.

Tribal Consultation at NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is committed to supporting the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Through enhanced communication and collaboration between NIH and Tribal Nations, NIH strives to build biomedical research capacity, expand research, and enhance cultural awareness and community engagement.

At NIH, the Tribal Health Research Office (THRO) conducts Tribal Consultation at least once a year to ensure critical input on agency research. Consultation occurs when NIH, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or a Tribe identifies an NIH action – proposed research projects, priorities, programs, and other activities of interest to American Indians and Alaska Natives – with substantial direct effects for one or more Tribes. THRO ensures that NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) adhere to the new NIH Tribal Consultation Policy.

New Tribal Consultation Policy: Fostering Consistent, Meaningful Engagement with Tribal Nations
Read post by THRO Director Dr. David R. Wilson on the new NIH Tribal Consultation Policy.

Current Tribal Consultations

NIH Tribal Consultation on the NIH Strategic Plan for Tribal Health Research, FY2024–2028
Sponsored by the NIH Tribal Health Research Office

  • HHS Region 1: June 28, 2022
  • HHS Region 3: June 21–22, 2022
  • HHS Region 4: June 15–16, 2022
  • HHS Region 5: July 19–20, 2022
  • HHS Region 6: August 16–17, 2022
  • HHS Region 7: July 12–14, 2022
  • HHS Region 8: June 7–8, 2022
  • HHS Region 9: July 26–28, 2022
  • HHS Region 10: August 22–24, 2022

DTLL  |  Current Strategic Plan

NIH requests input to inform the NIH Strategic Plan for Tribal Health Research, FY2024–2028. The purpose of the strategic plan, which will build on the existing one, is to improve NIH’s relationship and collaborative efforts with American Indian and Alaska Native communities with the goal of addressing health research needs. The virtual NIH Tribal Consultation will occur during the HHS regional consultations listed above. Additional supporting materials will be posted here as they become available.


NIH Tribal Consultation on Research Needed to Address the Opioid Crisis, Including Managing Chronic Pain and Addiction
Sponsored by the Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®

Thursday, March 31, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET, Virtual

DTLL  |  Framing Letter  |  Background Slides  |  About NIH HEAL Initiative®

The NIH HEAL Initiative® is a trans-agency effort to speed scientific solutions to stem the national opioid public health crisis. The initiative aims to reduce suffering due to chronic pain and opioids; curb the rates of harmful opioid use, addiction, and overdose; enhance the management of chronic pain; and help individuals achieve long-term recovery from opioid addiction. Almost every NIH Institute and Center is accelerating research through the initiative to address the nation’s pain and opioid public health crises.

NIH requests input from Tribal Nations about their priority areas of research and research-related needs to address the opioid crisis and support new strategies to improve chronic pain management and harmful opioid use, addiction, and overdose in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. NIH seeks to build on input from the 2018 Consultation and continue to adapt its approaches to the on-going crisis.


NIH Tribal Consultation on the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C)
Sponsored by the NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS)

Friday, February 11, 2022, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET, Virtual
Watch recording

The Tribal Consultation on N3C was held to solicit input and recommendations on whether and how to appropriately make American Indian and Alaska Native data available to Tribal researchers and to the broader scientific research community. Please visit the N3C Tribal Consultation website for more details.

Past Tribal Consultations

View details and materials from past NIH Tribal Consultations.

This page last reviewed on May 18, 2022