Purpose of the Native Hawaiian Community Consultation Standard Operating Procedure

The purpose of this SOP for Consultation with the NHC is to provide the basic steps for working with the NHC on regulatory, policy, or other administrative decision-making matters. This SOP is written by and for the Office but may be used by any office or agency seeking to engage with the NHC. [1] This SOP is intended to complement, not supersede, any existing laws, rules, statutes, or regulations that guide consultation processes with the NHC or Federally-recognized tribes in the continental United States.

This SOP honors the government-to-sovereign relationship between the United States and the Native Hawaiian Community and complies with the intent of the Presidential Memorandum of November 5, 2009,[2] which affirms this relationship and obligates the Office to meet the spirit and intent of EO 13175.[3] Consultation is a deliberative process that aims to create effective collaboration and informed Federal decision-making. Consultation is built upon the exchange of information and promotes enhanced communication that emphasizes trust, respect, and shared responsibility. Federal consultation conducted in a meaningful and good-faith manner further facilitates effective Office operations and governance practices. To that end, the consulting official(s) will seek and promote cooperation, participation, and efficiencies between agencies with overlapping jurisdiction, special expertise, or related responsibilities regarding an action with NHC implications. Efficiencies derived from the inclusion of the NHC in the Office’s decision-making processes through consultation will help ensure that future Federal action is achievable, comprehensive, long-lasting, and reflective of the NHC’s input.


Input Welcome:  This SOP is a living document that is intended to reflect the collective uses and experiences of the Office, other Federal agencies, and the Native Hawaiian Community. Mahalo to all who have helped shape this SOP in countless ways. The Office continues to welcome suggestions to improve and enhance this SOP. Mahalo nui loa.

[1] While the Office of Native Hawaiian Relations is happy to provide technical guidance to offices and agencies engaging with the NHC, the responsibility for the engagement remains with those offices and agencies implementing the triggering Federal action. We utilized the term "Office" in this SOP with the intent that any other office or agency may identify itself in the term “Office.”

[2] Presidential Memorandum on Tribal Consultation, November 5, 2009. 

[3] 81 Fed. Reg. 71,278 (Oct. 14, 2016) (A government-to-government relationship encompasses the political relationship between sovereigns and a working relationship between the officials of those two sovereigns. Although the Native Hawaiian community has been without a formal government for over a century, Congress recognized the continuity of the Native Hawaiian community through over 150 separate statutes, which ensures it has a special political and trust relationship with the United States. At the same time, a working relationship between government officials is absent. This rulemaking provides the Native Hawaiian community with an opportunity to have a working relationship, referred to as the ‘‘formal government-to-government relationship.’’ The Native Hawaiian community’s current relationship with the United States has substantively all of the other attributes of a government-to-government relationship and might be described as a ‘‘sovereign to sovereign’’ or ‘‘government to sovereign’’ relationship. It is important to note that a special political and trust relationship may continue to exist even without a formal government-to-government relationship.).

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