Tribal Protocol Manual (NUREG-2173, Revision 1)

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Publication Information

Date Published: July 2018

Prepared by:
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
Division of Materials Safety, Security, and Tribal Programs
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Availability Notice


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recognizes the unique relationship that the Federal Government has with Federally recognized Tribes. The NRC is committed to government to government relationships with Indian Tribes. The Tribal Protocol Manual facilitates effective consultations and interactions between the NRC and Native American Tribes related to activities within the scope of the NRC's jurisdiction.

This manual explains that Tribes are unique governmental entities and are not extensions of State or local governments. Each Federally recognized Tribe is a domestic, dependent sovereign nation with its own customs, culture, concerns, interests and needs. The Tribal Protocol Manual assists NRC management and staff in recognizing these distinctions and creates a more open and productive working relationship with Native American Tribal governments.

The Tribal Protocol Manual is a reference tool produced from multiple sources, including interviews with the NRC staff and management, other Federal agencies' personnel, and Tribal representatives who are experienced in working with Tribes. NRC management and staff can use this guide to develop and maintain government to government relationships with Tribal governments. This manual supplements the NRC staff's working knowledge by providing Tribal outreach experience and practical guidance to NRC personnel who have had limited interactions with Native American Tribes.

Some Native American Tribes have a regulatory relationship with the NRC as licensees. This manual does not imply that the NRC's regulatory relationship with license holding Native American Tribes is different from the agency's regulatory relationship with other NRC licensees.

This manual uses various names when describing Native American peoples because there is no specifically established name that describes Native American people. As a point of reference, in a speech given on November 5, 2009, before the representatives of roughly 400 Federally recognized Tribes, President Obama addressed his audience using terms such as "Native Americans," "First Americans," "Tribal Nations," and "Alaska Natives."1 President Clinton used the terminology "Indian Tribe" in Executive Order 13175, "Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments," dated November 6, 2000.2 The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), Bureau of Indian Affairs, uses the term "American Indian," whereas the National Congress of American Indians prefers "Native American." Accordingly, this manual uses these terms interchangeably.

1. President Obama provided remarks at the 2009 White House Tribal Nations Conference, which hosted leaders from the 566 Federally recognized Native Nations. These leaders engaged with the President, Cabinet Officials and the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues facing Tribes, including respecting Tribal sovereignty, upholding treaty and trust Responsibilities, addressing lack of access to capital and credit, and protecting Native women and youth. Please see the full transcript of President Obama's speech.
2.Executive Order 13175 requires Federal departments and agencies to consult with Indian Tribal governments when considering policies that would impact Tribal communities. Executive Order 13175 reiterated the Federal Government's commitment to Tribal self-government (Volume 65 of the Federal Register, page 67249 (65 FR 67249); November 9, 2000).

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