Federal Agencies Commit to Stronger Collaboration with Tribes

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Federal Agencies Commit to Stronger Collaboration With Tribes

DOE, DOI Announce Memorandum of Understanding on Rattlesnake Mountain in Washington State

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) today announced a memorandum of understanding to demonstrate a shared commitment to exploring greater tribal involvement in the protection and preservation of Rattlesnake Mountain as a sacred site. The announcement came as part of the White House Tribal Nations Summit held in Washington, D.C., this week.

“We heard tribal perspectives and we agree on the importance of continued collaboration to incorporate tribal knowledge and expertise in future stewardship of this important area of the Hanford Site,” DOE Office of Environmental Management Senior Advisor William “Ike” White said.

The memorandum was developed after constructive discussions between the federal agencies and tribal leaders. Pursuant to the memorandum, an interagency team will be formed to support discussions with Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce and Wanapum tribal leadership to discuss the potential for additional protective measures and improved access for tribal members to conduct religious ceremonies and traditional gatherings. Discussions will also focus on potential opportunities for tribes to take a more active role in stewardship and for Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge to be incorporated in future management plans.

“I appreciate the collaborative spirit and look forward to continuing our work together on an effort that will benefit the environment, the tribal people and the Pacific Northwest,” DOE Tribal Liaison Matthew Dannenberg said.

Rattlesnake Mountain, known as “Laliik” in the native Saphatin language, is located within the Hanford Reach National Monument. In 2008, DOE determined the area is a historic property of cultural and religious significance to the tribes and eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places as a traditional cultural property under the National Historic Preservation Act. The area is managed by DOI’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under a permit from DOE.

The MOU is consistent with the 2021 Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indigenous Sacred Sites as well as Executive Order 13007.