Advancing Tribal Health and Wellness through Meaningful Government-to-Government Consultation in State and Local Environmental Decision-making

Principal Investigators
Environmental Law Institute
Funded on

State and local environmental agencies regularly make decisions that have particular repercussions for the health and wellness of tribal citizens. These citizens’ physical, mental, and spiritual wellness is tied to environmental health, food sovereignty, and the ability to maintain and continue to evolve their traditional practices, language, and cultural identity. Examples of such repercussions include permitting projects that emit pollutants; siting of dams, roads, and other structures that impede access to ancestral territory; and water resource and land management activities affecting historical, cultural, and spiritual sites outside of current tribal lands and jurisdiction. Meaningfully engaging tribes in the environmental decision-making process is critical to promoting the health of their citizens. 

This study will examine the extent to which health and wellness outcomes for tribal citizens are tied to state policies requiring state and local agencies to engage in government-to-government consultation with tribes when carrying out environmental decision-making activities impacting tribal cultural resources.  

The research team will focus on California laws, primarily Senate Bill 18 and Assembly Bill 52, requiring tribal consultation in drafting land use plans and carrying out environmental impact studies. The project team will examine how well these policies promote tribal sovereignty, increase the meaningful role of Tribes in environmental decision-making, have tribally relevant outcomes, and beneficially impact the holistic health of tribal citizens.

Additional Reading