Section I - Background

A. Guidelines Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the Government-to-Government Implementation Guidelines is to better define how a government-to-government relationship is implemented between the State of Washington and the federally recognized American Indian Tribes within the state as called for in the 1989 Centennial Accord. This Guidelines document will serve to frame the basic government-to-government policy and provides (or outlines) a process for each state agency and tribe to develop its own Centennial Accord Plan. The Government-to-Government Implementation Guidelines objectives are:

  • To formalize the requirement for the State of Washington to implement a government-to-government policy and to seek consultation and participation by representatives of tribal governments in policy development and program activities.
  • To outline tribal responsibilities in implementing a government-to-government policy that encourages consultation and coordination with representatives of state government.
  • To establish a minimum set of requirements and expectations with respect to a government-to-government relationship.
  • To define the kinds of activities in which tribal/state consultation and participation will be required.
  • To promote the development of innovative methods of obtaining consultation on issues from tribal representatives and involving representatives in agency decision making processes.

B. Centennial Accord

American Indian Tribes are sovereign governments recognized as self-governing communities under federal and common law. American Indians are also citizens of the United States and the State of Washington. Because of their unique sovereign status, federally recognized tribes have the inherent power to make and enforce laws on their lands, and to create governmental entities. Many federal laws have delegated federal programs to be managed by tribes in recognition of their governmental status.

Given this background, in 1989, the State of Washington and the federally recognized tribes located within the state signed the "Centennial Accord between the Federally Recognized Tribes in Washington State and the State of Washington." This Accord provides a framework for a government-to-government relationship, and implementation procedures to assure execution of that relationship. The Centennial Accord calls for state agencies and tribal governments to develop procedures by which a government-to-government policy will be implemented. Independent Executive Officers and Boards and Commissions are encouraged to develop government-to-government procedures as well.

C. Key Principles of Government-to-Government Policy

The State of Washington and the federally recognized tribes within the state have committed to improving and maintaining effective government-to-government relations. The state and tribes acknowledge that while successful intergovernmental communication and cooperation is not a guarantee of agreement on every issue, it will ensure a durable, effective working relationship to the benefit of all of the citizens of Washington State. Toward this goal the state and tribes will:

  • Work directly with each other in a government-to-government fashion, rather than as subdivisions of other governments.
  • Take appropriate steps to remove legal and procedural impediments to working directly and effectively with each other's governments and programs.
  • Endeavor to assure that each other's concerns and interests are considered whenever their actions or decisions may affect the other's governments or programs.
  • Encourage cooperation between tribes, the state and local government to resolve problems of mutual concern.
  • Work with federal agencies that have related responsibilities.
  • Incorporate these Principles into planning and management activities, including budget, program development and implementation, legislative initiatives, and ongoing policy and regulation development processes.
  • Coordinate and provide mutual assistance as the governments assume new regulatory and program management responsibilities.

D. Definitions

Tribal Sovereignty - American Indian Tribes are recognized in federal law as possessing sovereignty over their members and their territory. Sovereignty means that tribes have the power to make and enforce laws, and to establish courts and other forums for resolution of disputes. The sovereignty that American Indian Tribes posses is inherent, which means that it comes from within the tribe itself and existed before the founding of the United States. Tribal sovereignty is not absolute, but rather is subject to certain limits resulting from the unique relationship of the tribes to the United States. Under federal law, tribes are said to retain all those aspects of their original sovereignty except aspects that have been given up in a treaty, taken away by an act of Congress, or divested by implication as a result of their dependent status. In addition to inherent sovereignty, tribal governments may also exercise authority delegated to them by Congress. Key principles of sovereignty include:

  • Tribal Sovereignty is the right of tribes, as "domestic dependent nations," to exercise self-determination and the right to self-government, unless these powers have been modified by treaty or by an act of Congress. Sovereignty ensures control over the future of the tribes and encourages preservation of tribal culture, religions, and traditional practices.
  • Tribes have the authority to, among other things, govern their people and their land; define their own tribal membership criteria; create tribal legislation law enforcement, and court systems; and to impose taxes in certain situations.
  • Membership in a sovereign tribe is what distinguishes American Indians as a political group rather than solely an ethnic minority.
  • Washington State Sovereignty - Each state is a sovereign entity in our federal system and has governmental powers except to the extent the states have agreed in our constitutional framework to the supremacy of federal laws and treaties.

Government-to-Government - Describes the relationship between tribes and the federal government. It is also used to describe the relationship and protocols between tribes and other governments like states.

Consultation - Consultation requires an enhanced form of communication that emphasizes trust and respect. It requires a shared responsibility that allows an open and free exchange of information and opinion among parties that leads to mutual understanding and comprehension.

Consultation with tribal governments is an endeavor, which is uniquely a government-to-government process. In this government-to-government consultation process, the goal is to reach consensus during decision making. Consultation is undertaken with a desire to reach mutually agreeable decisions that acknowledge the broad interests within the state, including interests of concern to state government and interests of concern to tribal governments, while recognizing agreement cannot always be reached.

Participation - Participation is an ongoing activity that allows all interested parties to engage one another through negotiation, compromise, and problem solving to reach a desired outcome.

Trust Responsibility - Reference is often made of the unique legal status of American Indians to the United States. Trust Responsibility is a legally enforceable obligation of the United States to protect tribal self-determination, tribal lands, assets, resources, and treaty rights, as well as carry out the directions of federal statutes and court cases.