What does the nation’s commitment to tribal co-stewardship mean for public lands? (Tribal co-stewardship takes shape) — High Country News – Know the West
, 2023-02-01 03:04:20,
Since the start of his administration, President Joe Biden has taken significant actions that have resonated in Indian Country: restoring Bears Ears National Monument; nominating the first Indigenous Cabinet member, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo); investing billions in tribal water-rights settlements and infrastructure. In 2021, his administration took a historic step when it committed to a policy of restoring tribal oversight of ancestral lands and of working with tribes in co-stewardship to manage public lands. Since then, a flurry of agency memos and reports have filled out more details of what these co-stewardship arrangements might look like. But what do all these statements amount to in practical terms?
Tribes across the country are seeking the return of lands that were illegally or forcibly taken by the United States. For some, co-management with federal agencies is a way to regain a measure of control of their ancestral lands and can be a first step toward the restitution and sovereignty sought by the LandBack movement. Given the declining budgets of federal agencies and tribes’ deep, place-based knowledge and growing governing capacity, co-stewardship can be a natural fit.
“There really is an ongoing nationwide conversation right now about co-management,” Kevin Washburn (Chickasaw Nation), who was assistant secretary of Indian Affairs under Obama and worked on the Biden transition…
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