The Indigenous Peoples Subcommittee is one of six subcommittees of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), a federal advisory committee of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NEJAC believes the federal government has a responsibility to consult and collaborate with American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments as an essential element of its trust responsibility to federally recognized tribal governments. However, the NEJAC contends that effective consultation and collaboration between federal agencies and federally recognized tribal governments is lacking. The NEJAC also believes that some existing public participation processes provide inadequate opportunities for tribal members and tribal communities to have meaningful involvement in the environmental and public health decisions affecting them. To facilitate more effective consultation, promote genuine collaboration, and improve public participation, the Indigenous Peoples Subcommittee prepared this guide. EPA's Office of Environmental Justice provided assistance in the development of this Guide. The Subcommittee solicited, received and applied a variety of comments on several working drafts of the Guide from tribal governments and organizations, federal agencies including various EPA offices, and other interested parties, and welcomes additional input. Accordingly, one purpose of this Guide is to inform federal agencies, as well as state and local agencies, why consultation with Indian tribal governments is an important aspect of the federal trust responsibility. The guide describes the sovereignty of federally recognized tribal governments and explains how they should be treated in a government-to-government fashion by federal and state agencies. It also highlights various laws and policies that require and support recognition of tribal governments as sovereign entities, and addresses the environmental and public health impacts that may adversely affect the lives of
American Indian and Alaska Natives.