Identify relevant Federally recognized tribes prior to a specific project and initiate regular meetings to build trust and relationships.
Do your homework. Prior to contacting a tribe, know the location of their ancestral lands. Do they hold treaties with the Federal government? Does the tribe have a designated Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO)?
If there is a probability of tribal interest in your proposed project, initiate consultation as early as possible and build in additional time into the project timeline to allow for meaningful tribal engagement without delay to the project schedule.
Initial contact should be made by formal letter, signed by the highest ranking GSA employee in the regional office, with the Regional Historic Preservation Officer (RHPO) as the technical point of contact.
Day to day communications can be between RHPOs and tribal staff, but formal consultation meetings and correspondence should always be between the highest ranking individual in the regional office and tribal leadership.
Establish a mutually acceptable communication protocol. Who should correspondence be directed to at the tribe? What form of correspondence is preferred (i.e. email, U.S. mail, fax, etc.)? What types of projects does the tribe wish to be consulted on (i.e. only ground disturbing activities, property disposal, etc.).
Whenever possible, build in ample time into project schedules to allow for meaningful consultation as tribes are not bound by any formal timeline and are often inundated with requests for consultation on multiple Federal projects.
Always promote tribal consultation as a process of mutual information sharing that builds upon meaningful and effective consultation and respect for tribal viewpoints and priorities.