DOI Announces First-Ever Consultation Policy with Native Hawaiian Community


On Oct. 18 the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that, for the first time in the agency’s history, it will require formal consultation with the Native Hawaiian Community.

New policies and procedures, subject to formal consultation, will further affirm and honor the special political and trust relationship between the U.S. and the Native Hawaiian community.

“The Interior Department is committed to working with the Native Hawaiian community on a government-to-sovereign basis to address concerns related to self-governance, Native Hawaiian trust resources, and other Native Hawaiian rights,” said Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo). “A new and unprecedented consultation policy will help support Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination as we continue to uphold the right of the Native Hawaiian Community to self-government.”

The draft consultation policy and procedures seek to, among other things:

• Bolster the Department’s consultation efforts to encourage early, robust, interactive, pre-decisional, informative and transparent consultation;

• Require that Department staff undergo training before participating in consultation;

• Establish bi-annual meetings between the Secretary and Native Hawaiian community leaders to consult on matters of mutual interest;

• Clarify that the Department’s decision-makers must invite Native Hawaiian community leaders to engage in consultation; and

• Require a record of consultation.

The draft requirements help further the spirit and intent of President Biden’s “Memorandum on Tribal Consultation and Strengthening Nation-to-Nation Relationships,” which outlines the Administration’s efforts to engage Indigenous communities early and often in federal decision-making.

“The historic news that the Department of the Interior intends to develop a formal consultation policy with the Native Hawaiian community is a victory in the fight for Native Hawaiian sovereignty and self-determination,” said OHA Board Chair Carmen “Hulu” Lindsey.

“The department’s commitment to working with the Native Hawaiian people in consultation on matters of mutual interest is an important step in our people’s struggle for self-governance. This is very welcome news and we mahalo Secretary Deb Haaland and President Biden for their continuous efforts to involve and engage Indigenous communities and provide us a voice in federal decision-making. We have much to contribute when discussing Native Hawaiian trust resources and Native Hawaiian rights, and we look forward to the work ahead.”

The Office of Native Hawaiian Relations (ONHR) will host two virtual consultations on Thursday, Nov. 10 from 9:00-11:00 a.m. HST and on Monday, Dec. 5 from 6:00-8:00 p.m. HST to gather feedback from the Native Hawaiian community on the new policy. ONHR discharges the Secretary’s responsibilities for matters related to Native Hawaiians and serves as a conduit for the Department’s field activities in Hawaiʻi. For more information: