President Biden Issues Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships

President Joe Biden issued a memorandum reaffirming the administration’s commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Nations and directing the heads of executive departments and agencies to reinvigorate the consultation process with Indian Tribes.

President Biden wrote:

“It is a priority of my Administration to make respect for Tribal sovereignty and self-governance, commitment to fulfilling Federal trust and treaty responsibilities to Tribal Nations, and regular, meaningful, and robust consultation with Tribal Nations cornerstones of Federal Indian policy.  The United States has made solemn promises to Tribal Nations for more than two centuries.  Honoring those commitments is particularly vital now, as our Nation faces crises related to health, the economy, racial justice, and climate change—all of which disproportionately harm Native Americans. History demonstrates that we best serve Native American people when Tribal governments are empowered to lead their communities, and when Federal officials speak with and listen to Tribal leaders in formulating Federal policy that affects Tribal Nations.”  

The memorandum directs the executive departments and agencies to complete the following \:

  1. Submit to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) a detailed plan of actions the agency will take to implement detailed tribal consultation action plans (Executive Order 13175) within 90 days of the date of this memorandum.
  2. Designate an agency official to coordinate the implementation of the plan and preparation of progress reports required by the memorandum. Reports will be submitted to the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy (APDP) and the Director of OMB.
  3. Submit to the Director of OMB annual progress reports on the status of each action included in the agencies plan within 270, including with any proposed updates to the plan
  4. For the OMB Director, in coordination with APDP, within a year from the date of this memorandum, submit a report to the President on the implementation of Executive Order 13175.

HUD Acting Secretary Matt Ammon released a statement on the memorandum stating:

“HUD applauds President Biden for taking bold action to strengthen the Federal government’s recognition of Tribal sovereignty, carry out our Federal trust and treaty responsibilities, and ensure that all Federal agencies engage in meaningful government-to-government consultation when developing policies that affect Tribal Nations. HUD plays an instrumental role in providing safe, affordable housing for Tribal communities, and this work could not be done without the engagement of our Tribal partners. The President’s memorandum will ensure that our agency will work tirelessly to consult with Tribal leaders when formulating policies to expand opportunity and equity in Native communities. HUD looks forward to implementing the President’s Memorandum and to continuing our critical work to meet the housing needs of Tribal Nations.”

The “Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996” (NAHASDA) is the primary federal statute designed to address Native American housing issues. NAHASDA has two major components: 1) the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG) Program (which is not the same as the Indian Community Development Block Grant, or ICDBG), and 2) the Title VI Tribal Housing Activities Loan Guarantee Program. Enacted in 1996, NAHASDA provides assistance to Indian tribes by providing affordable housing-related opportunities for low-income families residing on reservations and in other tribal areas. The act, which became effective in October 1997, provides tribes with a consistent, dedicated annual funding stream without requiring them to navigate the myriad of general housing programs administered by HUD. The act recognizes tribal sovereignty and self-determination by providing block grant funds directly to tribes, which are operated pursuant to tribally created Indian Housing Plans.

Read the “Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships” at:

Read the Memorandum in the Federal Register at:

Read Acting HUD Secretary Matt Ammon’s statement at:

More about NAHASDA is on page 5-29 of NLIHC’s 2020 Advocates Guide.