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 intended to lead to mutual understanding and comprehension.

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 (AI/AN). Through enhanced communication and collaboration between NIH and AI/AN communities, NIH strives to build biomedical research capacity, expand research, and enhance cultural competency 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 follows the NIH Guidance on the Implementation of the HHS Tribal Consultation Policy and adheres to the policy. The office also prepares Consultation summaries, tracks follow-up, and reports outcomes.

Current Tribal Consultations

NIH Tribal Consultation on the Draft NIH Tribal Consultation Policy
Sponsored by the NIH Tribal Health Research Office (THRO)

The draft NIH Tribal Consultation Policy complements the HHS Tribal Consultation Policy by focusing on NIH-specific issues and will replace the 2014 NIH Guidance to the Implementation of the HHS Tribal Consultation Policy. The draft Policy was developed with extensive input and review from the NIH Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) to reflect respect of Tribal Sovereignty and strengthen Nation-to-Nation relationships with Tribes. Read the Dear Tribal Leader Letter (DTLL).

This virtual Consultation will occur during the HHS 2021 Regional Tribal Consultations as follows:

Region 1: July 27, 2021
Region 2: June 22, 2021
Region 3: June 29, 2021
Region 4: June 9, 2021
Region 5: July 21-22, 2021
Region 6: May 27, 2021
Regions 7 and 8: May 25, 2021
Region 9: August 9-12, 2021       
Region 10: June 14-16, 2021

NIH Tribal Consultation on Tribal Data Repository
Sponsored by the NIH Office of Data Science Strategy and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

In response to the Tribal Consultation for COVID-19 Research held in May 2020, NIH incorporated Tribal input into the design of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Initiative aimed to accelerate the development, commercialization, and implementation of COVID-19 testing. NIH is now seeking input on key issues critical to the creation of the RADx Initiative’s Tribal Data Repository (TDR) including how to shape the TDR’s ability to hold and share Tribal data that recognizes Tribal sovereignty and appropriate governance. The TDR is envisioned to be a central research data repository resource for researchers and their collaborators who are working with Tribal RADx research data. For more information, read the Dear Tribal Leader Letter (DTLL) and Framing Letter. You may also review slides from the recent pre-Consultation informational webinar.

Date and Time: Friday, July 30, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET., Virtual
View Tribal Consultation Slides
Please submit written feedback by COB on the extended deadline, Monday, August 30, 2021.

Past Tribal Consultations

View details and materials from past NIH Tribal Consultations.

This page last reviewed on October 4, 2021