Tribal Consultation

Tribal Engagement encompasses all levels of Tribal communication and partnership from the informal coordination to formal Government-to-Government consultation, whether initiated by the Department of Commerce or the Tribe(s).

Why Consult with Tribes

Federally recognized Tribes retain their rights since time immemorial and are as such inherently sovereign. Federally recognized Tribes have a unique trust relationship with the United States federal government as a result of treaties, legislation, and Executive Orders. Their status as sovereign nations entitles them to a direct government-to-government relationship with the Federal Government, independent of the states or local jurisdictions where these Tribes may reside.

In 1989, the 26 federally recognized tribes and the State of Washington under Governor Booth Gardner signed the Centennial Accord. This made Washington State and the Tribes historically the first in the nation to establish a relationship to strengthen tribal government-to-government relations on issues of shared interests and to promote collaborative best management practices.

Washington State Cabinet Agencies maintain a government-to-government relation with 29 federally recognized Tribes located within Washington; there are also an additional six federally recognized tribes are located outside of the state, but who have interests, traditional territory or treaty rights within the state- who may be involved in consultation processes.

The Department of Commerce respects and honors Tribal Sovereignty by engaging in a meaningful government-to-government (G2G) relationship with Tribal governments in policy and program development and administration. The government-to-government relationship will be supplemented and enhanced with regular informal engagement and coordination between Commerce and the Tribes. Government-to-Government consultation occurs independent of the public involvement process.

This policy defines Commerce’s commitment to meaningful and effective Tribal engagement, spanning from informal engagement and coordination, guidance in Archaeological and Historical review, all the way to formal government-to-government consultation, in the planning and implementation of Commerce programs and services, delivered by Commerce or by contractors, to ensure effective communication, collaboration, and relationship building with Tribal partners and provisions of quality services to American Indian and Alaska Native people in Washington State.

Archaeological Project Review

A great resource to learn more about the requirement to consult with Tribes is the Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation Tribal Consultation webpage.

The Department of Commerce must engage with Tribes in consultation under the requirements of Executive Order 21-02 Archaeological and Cultural Resources, Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (when federal permits or funds are included), and RCW 43.376 Government to Government Relationship with Indian Tribes. There are new requirements for Tribal Engagement around projects funded through Climate Commitment Act funds (ESHB 1753) that will compliment any previously existing requirement for Tribal consultation. When this new consultation structure is ready there will be an update provided.

If at any point in the project review process you need support with the Tribal aspect please reach out to the Department of Commerce Tribal Liaison.  

Determining Consultation Type

Does your project include federal funds or permits?

Is the project state-funded acquisition or construction?

  • If Yes: The project will require an Executive Order 21-02 Archaeological and Cultural Resource Review. For more information visit the Department of Archaeology and Historical Preservation page on Project Review.
  • If No: There is no need for project review.



Michelle Gladstone-Wade, Tribal Liaison
Phone: 360-725-2902


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