Invited Speaker: Bryan Mercier (Grand Ronde), NW Regional Director Bureau of Indian Affairs

Year: 2022
Presenter/s: Bryan Mercier
Symposium Session: 2022 - 00- Invited Speaker
Topics covered: climate change, community involvement, and environmental justice


Tribal Leadership in Fish and Wildlife Management

Indigenous Tribes of the NW have been building capacity in Fish and Wildlife management for decades. Their capacity (i.e., staff and resources) now outpaces many state and local governments, placing them in a position to lead the region in efforts to combat climate change and restore fish and wildlife. How do NW Tribes’ unique political, legal and cultural attributes provide an opportunity for other practitioners to collaborate and make real progress in Fish and Wildlife.

Tribes have been contracting with the federal government for decades through “638 contracts”. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Act (PL 93-638) provided Tribe the ability to administer federal programs through the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) initially, but the vehicle is available across the federal government and could be replicated with States.

In the NW, Tribes have led the country in the successful utilization of 638 contracts to administer programs ranging from Social Services to Fish and Wildlife from the BIA. However, while 638 contracts are available for other federal agencies, use outside of the BIA has been limited. This underutilization of 639 contracts is likely a missed opportunity that could stretch limited resources and leverage tribal expertise and capacity.

I’ll discuss this opportunity cost and engage in debate about the pros and cons of contracting with Tribes.