ELI Announces Partnership with Native American Rights Fund to Advance Tribal Sovereignty with Support of Henry Luce Foundation

May 2023

(Washington, D.C.): The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) today announced a new partnership, made possible thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, to develop a first-of-its-kind dynamic digital repository of Tribal consultation policies and resources aimed at building the capacity of sovereign Tribes and local, state, and federal agencies to communicate and collaborate on a government-to-government basis.

“Both our organizations recognized the need for a digital ‘one-stop-shop’ to help bridge the gap between Tribal nations and government agencies, especially at the state and local levels,” explained project lead Cynthia R. Harris, ELI’s Director of Tribal Programs and the Deputy Director of the Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs. “That’s why we teamed up with NARF, which brings over 50 years’ experience advocating for Native American Tribes and serving as a repository of information through the National Indian Law Library.”

“We are excited to collaborate with ELI to build a robust library of resources on consultation, including a collection of existing laws and policies, that will highlight best practices and offer educational tools to assist governments engaging in consultation,” said Anne Lucke, Director of NARF’s National Indian Law Library.

The digital repository will magnify the impact of an ELI project currently underway, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Policies for Action program, to investigate California’s Tribal consultation laws in partnership with the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, the Pechanga Band of Indians, the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (NATHPO), and experts in Indigenous community health and wellness, including Dr. Jamie Donatuto, co-pioneer of the Indigenous Health Indicators.

“Federal, state, and local environmental agencies regularly make decisions that directly impact Tribal communities without engaging in meaningful government-to-government consultation,” noted Greta Swanson, Visiting Attorney at ELI and project co-lead. “This digital hub will be a force multiplier that takes this project nationwide—a centralized, first-of-its-kind resource to access information about policies and best practices for consultation.”

“This hub will help bridge existing gap in understanding between Tribes and agencies so they can engage in meaningful and effective consultation,” added Ms. Harris. “This isn’t just limited to environmental review and land use decisions, either—best practices can enable Indigenous communities and local governments to collaborate on climate adaptation efforts in ways that benefit everyone.”

ELI’s Center for State, Tribal, and Local Environmental Programs was founded in 1986. The Center supports subnational governments and sovereign Tribes in managing natural resources and implementing and enforcing the laws governing environmental protection.

NARF is a non-profit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian Tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide.

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to deepen knowledge and understanding in pursuit of a more democratic and just world. Established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time, Inc., the Luce Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

For more information on this project, please contact Cynthia R. Harris at harris@eli.org.