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Order From Interior Secretary Gives Tribes More Say In Management

Emily Schwing
Northwest News Network
George Plutnikoff, an Alaska Native from St. Paul Island, held a sign opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline during remarks from Sally Jewell at the 50th Annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks over the weekend.

U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is calling for increased tribal involvement in land management decisions. Although it’s not a legal mandate, tribes are calling it a “landmark” order.

Jewell said the order is a “directive for federal land agencies to identify opportunities to work with tribes.” She said it will incorporate traditional knowledge on landscapes important to Native Americans.

“How do we facilitate a closer working relationship between indigenous people and our land management agencies on landscapes that indigenous people of this country sustainably managed for millennia?” Jewell said.

The order does not call for what the federal government calls “co-management.” The Northwest Inter-tribal Fish Commission manages salmon resources under a formal agreement. But Jewell says with her new directive, she does not want to set inappropriate expectations for federal agencies or tribes.

Jewell’s order comes at a time when tribal members are increasingly speaking out about various uses of their traditional lands. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota has been actively protesting the construction of an oil pipeline since last spring. Jewell said this order has been in the works since long before opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline came to a head.

The Alaska Federation of Natives praised the order for setting goals for tribal participation in a broad range of land management decisions.