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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 542-98
October 21, 1998

DOD RELEASES AMERICAN INDIAN AND ALASKA NATIVE POLICY

The Department of Defense today announced a new policy that will guide all DOD interactions with federally recognized tribes. The new policy, presented to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) at their annual meeting of tribal elders, leaders and delegates in Myrtle Beach, S.C., commits DoD to work closely with the tribes to better understand and address mutual concerns and interests.

The policy statement enacts President Clinton's 1994 memorandum on "Government to Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments," which established a framework for operating government-to-government relationships with federally-recognized tribal governments. It also committed the federal government to building more effective day-to-day working relations with tribal governments.

Secretary of Defense William Cohen said, "The Defense Department is committed to ensuring we meet our responsibilities to federally recognized tribes, and that our work is consistent with the government-to-government principles established in the DoD American Indian and Alaska Native Policy. This policy will help lay the foundation for developing strong relationships with tribal nations. It is designed to enhance understanding and cooperation between tribal nations and the Defense Department."

Defense Department leaders have been working with NCAI and other tribal representatives for the past year and a half to develop a series of principles and responsibilities that support tribal self-governance and government-to-government relations between DoD and tribes. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security Sherri W. Goodman was responsible for developing the policy.

"I am very proud that we were able to develop this policy in close collaboration with interested tribal representatives," Goodman said. "We are grateful for their contribution to the policy development process. This new policy is only one step in strengthening our existing working relationships with tribal nations, and building new ones. As we continue on this path, our goal is to work in partnership on DoD issues affecting tribes in a way that helps American Indians, Alaska Natives and Defense personnel to join forces on shared interests-and to do so in a way that promotes opportunity for all parties."

To develop the policy, DoD participated in thirteen separate gatherings of Indian tribes and Alaska Natives throughout the United States. DoD also invited direct tribal comments through several mailings to all federally recognized tribes and worked with NCAI to form a tribal steering committee of interested tribal representatives.

For more information call Lt. Col. Vic Warzinski at (703) 697-5331.