Building bridges: Perspectives on partnership and collaboration from the US forest service tribal relations program

Michael J. Dockry, Sophia A. Gutterman, Mae A. Davenport

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


American Indian tribes have inherent rights to national forestland and resources codified in treaties, the US Constitution, statutes, Presidential Executive Orders, and case law. These rights require a government-togovernment relationship between each tribe and the US Forest Service (USFS), which recognizes federal trust responsibilities and tribal sovereignty. This is implemented through government-to-government consultation. Along with consultation, the USFS seeks to create opportunities to work in partnership with tribes to support natural resource management for mutual benefit. The purpose of this article is to explore partnership building and collaboration between the USFS and American Indian tribes in the context of the USFS tribal relations program. The article outlines successful practices and barriers for building partnerships between federally recognized tribes and the USFS. Qualitative research methods were used to analyze 26 semistructured interviews with USFS employees with tribal relations duties to understand their perspectives on building partnerships and fulfilling the government trust responsibility with American Indian tribes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Forestry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 12 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: We thank all of the interview participants for sharing their knowledge, expertise, experiences, and time. We also thank three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments. This research was supported in part by University of Minnesota’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Society of American Foresters.


  • American Indian
  • Collaboration
  • Partnership
  • Tribal relations
  • US Forest Service


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