On June 26, 2013, President Obama signed the attached Executive Order 13647 establishing a White House Council on Native American Affairs (Council). Executive Orders are a key tool used by presidents in guiding federal agencies and they apply only to federal agencies. Establishment of a cross-federal agency entity focusing on Indian policy and coordination has been advocated for by the National Congress of American Indians and other Indian organizations.
The President states in the Executive Order:
This order establishes a national policy to ensure that the Federal Government engages in a true and lasting government-to-government relationship with federally recognized tribes in a more coordinated and effective manner, including by better carrying out its trust responsibilities. This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities. Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations.
The membership of the Council consists of the heads of 30 executive agencies, departments, and offices and allows the Secretary of Interior, who is the Chair of the Council, to designate additional executive agency members. The Council is to “coordinate development of policy recommendation to support tribal self-governance and improve the quality of life for Native Americans, and shall coordinate the United States Government’s engagement with tribal governments and their communities.”
The Council recommendations to the President on policy priorities will be coordinated with the White House Domestic Policy Council, while engagement with tribal governments and Native American “stakeholders” (i.e., tribal consortia, tribal colleges, health care providers) will be coordinated with the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. The Council is charged with coordinating a “more effective and efficient” process for tribal consultation and assisting the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs in organizing the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.
Executive Orders remain in effect after the President who signed the Order is out of office until revoked or amended by a subsequent Administration. President Obama, like other presidents, has revoked a number of his predecessors’ Executive Orders. Among the Executive Orders President Obama rescinded from the George W. Bush era were ones concerning regulatory planning and review, detention/interrogation guidance, restrictions on public access to presidential records and stem cell research.
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