RICHLAND, Wash. – Brian Vance, manager of the EM Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office, recently hosted a roundtable discussion with tribal nations located near the Hanford Site to review the Department’s tribal government policy site implementation plans and discuss opportunities for strengthening tribal consultation.

Participants included tribal leaders, officials, and staff from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Yakama Nation, Nez Perce Tribe, and the Wanapum Band of Native Americans — all of which have been valued EM partners for decades.

Mark Gilbertson, EM Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Regulatory and Policy Affairs, and EM Tribal Affairs Program Manager Jill Conrad, a descendant of the Nez Perce, joined the discussion along with other EM staff members.

For three decades, EM has maintained regular and robust cooperation with Native American communities and tribal nations on or near its sites. Targeted tribal engagement at Hanford and other EM sites will continue informing DOE leaders and staff as the Department works to strengthen nation-to-nation relationships. The Hanford roundtable was another opportunity to elicit tribal feedback and better understand how DOE Order 144.1 — the Department’s American Indian and Alaska Native Tribal Government Policy — can be improved.

“The tribes located near the Hanford Site have been engaged with DOE about protecting tribal rights and resources in such a culturally rich environment,” Conrad said. “Their insight is particularly helpful given their longstanding relationship with DOE.”

EM-specific tribal engagement, roundtables, and other listening sessions have already proved to be successful opportunities for tribal nations to communicate their interests. The sessions yielded recommendations the Department is pursuing to ensure DOE staff is appropriately trained in working with tribal nations, enhancing tribal science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and workforce opportunities, and ensuring tribes are engaged early and often in the Department’s policy formulation and decision-making to ensure their perspectives are considered.