U.S. Dept. Agriculture reviews its American Indian sacred sites procedures

The US Department of Agriculture’s Office of Tribal Relations and the U.S. Forest Service are jointly initiating formal Tribal consultations on the effectiveness of existing department and agency sacred sites laws, regulations, and procedures.

In a letter to Tribal government officials, the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Chief of the Forest Service, encouraged Tribal leaders and citizens to actively participate.

The first national telephone consultation session to introduce the effort and initiate the process will take place on November 29, 2010. In-person and telephone listening sessions will then occur throughout the country. A national session is slated after all local sessions are completed. The next phase will include government-to-government consultation, development of a draft policy and subsequent reviews before a final proposed policy is completed.

For the Nov. 29 call, individual tribal citizens can call between 2 and 5 p.m. Eastern time:
(888) 469-1285, enter passcode 5116673#

Comments about sacred site policies can also be posted at http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/tribalrelations, or emailed TribalSacredSites@fs.fed.us.

The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of National Forest System land, provides stewardship assistance to non-federal forest landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

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