DENVER, CO – Consultation between governments is not a new idea. There are always a number of reasons why “meaningful” consultation is important. For the 568 American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Villages in the United States, meaningful Tribal consultation is about garnering views and preferences, understanding possible unintended consequences of a proposed policy or legislation, or getting views on implementation including costs.
“Increasing the level of transparency improves the quality of policymaking by bringing to bear expertise and alternative perspectives, and identifying unintended effects, practical problems, as well as solutions to the challenges,” explains Loris Taylor, President & CEO of Native Public Media.
Taylor sees meaningful Tribal consultation with the U.S. federal government as part of strengthening policymaking and insists that understanding the effects of any policy on those who will be affected is at the heart of engagement.
At the 75th Annual Convention, Native Public Media submitted two resolutions to NCAI’s Technology and Telecommunications subcommittee. Both resolutions speak to the critical importance of meaningful Tribal consultation and urge the Federal Communications Commission to adhere to the practice of engaging Tribal government leaders on important issues such as Lifeline and Net Neutrality, and directs the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs to re-establish a comprehensive and formal government-to-government process for meaningful Tribal consultation before decisions that effect Tribes are made at the FCC.
The following resolutions were passed by the elected Tribal leadership at NCAI:
Calling on the FCC to Regulate the Tribal Lifeline Program According to its Original Intent, and Adhere to the Administrative Procedure Act - This resolution directs the FCC and Congress to preserve the Tribal Lifeline Program for all Tribal lands; cease implementation of rules that were created arbitrarily and return to regulating the Tribal Lifeline program to the original legislative and regulatory intent, and program goals – that of an affordability program.
Calling on the FCC to Re-establish the FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy’s Tribal Consultation Duties, and Training and Education Efforts - This resolution directs the Office of Native Affairs and Policy to provide tribal nations with comprehensive education and training on telecommunications policy; re-establish a comprehensive and formal government-to-government process for meaningful pre-decisional consultation and education on FCC policies and rulemaking; and ensure robust government-to-government consultation with tribal nations.
The Technology and Telecommunications Subcommittee also received an announcement from the FCC Office of Native Affairs and Policy of newly appointed members to the Native Nations Communications Task Force. They include:
Honorable Susie Allen, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
Honorable Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head
Honorable Michael Conners, St. Rigs Mohawk Tribe
Honorable Joe Garcia, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo
Honorable Frankie Hargis, Cherokee Nation
Honorable Jefferson Keel, Chickasaw Nation
Honorable Andy Teuber, Tangela Native Village
Honorable Joey Whitman, Gila River Indian Community
Joelynn Ashley, Navajo Nation
Bill Bryant, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community
Crystal Hottowe, Makah Tribe
Kristan Johnson, Tohono O’odham Nation
Donald Long Knife, Fort Belknap Indian Community
Robert A. Lucas II, Tanana Chiefs Conference
Peter McCaslin, Kenaitze Indian Tribe
Will Micklin, Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians
Theron Rutyna, Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Dane Wilson, Nez Perce Tribe
Karen Woodard, Morongo Band of Mission Indians
The Taskforce will provide guidance, expertise and recommendations to specific requests from the FCC on a range of telecommunications issues that directly or indirectly affect Tribal governments and their people. ONAP stated this will enhance the Commission’s ability to carry out its statutory responsibilities to ensure the availability of communications by wire and radio, and entourage broadband deployment, to all Americans.
On behalf of Native Public Media, Melissa Begay provided a report to Tribal leaders at NCAI regarding NPM’s station support and policy programs. The report is provided annually as a means to update Tribal leaders about the Native broadcast network and any telecommunications or communications policy advanced during the year by NPM that directly impacts Indian Country.