Department of the Interior Seeks Input from Tribal Leaders on Implementing the Agreement between DOI and Canada's Department of Indian Affairs

On March 29, 2010, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada entered into a Memorandum of Understanding “concerning Indigenous and Northern Issues.” On February 17, 2011, Larry Echo Hawk, Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs, sent a “Dear Tribal Leader” letter to each federally recognized tribe announcing that the DOI is now developing a workplan to implement the MOU and asking for comments and suggestions from tribal leaders. A copy of the “Dear Tribal Leader” letter is attached, along with a copy of the MOU as an enclosure with that letter. The MOU can also be found at The DOI has requested comments and recommendations by March 7, 2011. Comments should be sent to Mr. Eric Wilson at, or by fax to (202) 208-4564. This deadline is for input into the initial version of the workplan. The DOI anticipates that the workplan will be “an organic document that continues to evolve, including any future input” that tribal leaders may have.

The intent of the MOU is “to strengthen cooperation in indigenous affairs through processes that facilitate the mutual exchange of information, experiences, ideas and knowledge, in order to improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples in each country.” The workplan will include informational exchanges on “lessons learned and best practices.” As explained in the “Dear Tribal Leader” letter, DOI is seeking input on how to focus its attention. They anticipate that some of the initial areas for cooperation will include:

  • Northern environment and sustainable development
  • Preservation and development of tribal economies and traditional ways of life
  • Education

These are three of the ten subject matters listed in the MOU. Tribal leaders may wish to suggest others as priorities. The DOI has suggested that, although not specifically listed in the MOU, they may include “youth and women’s issues” in the priorities for the workplan. The DOI welcomes guidance from tribal leaders on how the U.S. and Canadian governments can “work better and learn from one another on tribal issues.”

If you would like further information regarding the U.S.-Canada MOU, please contact us at the information below.