FirstNet released its Tribal Consultation Policy, which outlines the consultation process FirstNet will use with tribal nations regarding the deployment of the nationwide public safety broadband network.

The new policy will give tribes an avenue to express their public safety needs through a nation-to-nation relationship between FirstNet and the 567 Federally recognized tribes, according to a FirstNet release.

“The purpose of this policy is to establish a foundation for honoring tribal sovereignty, accompanied by productive and long-lasting communications, consideration, and engagement with tribal governments surrounding the deployment and operation of the nationwide public safety broadband network,” the Tribal Consultation Policy said.

The policy, which was developed in consultation with the FirstNet Public Safety Advisory Committee Tribal Working Group, engagement with tribal leaders, intertribal organizations, and public safety associations across the country, highlights four core principles for tribal engagement: collaboration, communication, inclusion, and timelines.

“This policy recognizes the importance of working directly with Indian Country for the deployment and operation of the Network and being responsive to the needs of public safety communications on tribal lands” said FirstNet Board Member Kevin McGinnis, who is the FirstNet Board tribal liaison. “As they serve on the front lines of their communities, we look forward to providing them with reliable broadband connections and tools that will help them save lives and protect their communities.”

State governors have until Dec. 28 to determine whether they will opt in or out of FirstNet’s network. Under the new policy, FirstNet will follow the tribal consultation requirements initially established by Congress with the legislation that launched FirstNet during the governor’s decision period.

Once governors have announced their decision, FirstNet can then consult directly with individual tribal government officials, in addition to its ongoing consultative activities that ensure full compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, according to the FirstNet release.

Though governors have two more months to make their official decision, 27 states and territories have already opted in to the FirstNet network.


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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs