Tribal Relations

During our century as a company developing energy infrastructure across the globe in 23 countries, we’ve learned the importance of investing time to understand different cultures, traditions, beliefs, and practices. Today, with operations across the United States, we work closely with numerous Native American tribes, building trust through open communications and regular dialogue.

We respect tribal sovereignty and share a deep respect for the natural world. Native American tribes are not just another stakeholder group, they are independent governments with full legislative authority to make and enforce laws and to control activities on their lands. We look for mutually beneficial outcomes with tribes.

There are 567 federally recognized Native American tribes in 35 states (Bureau of Indian Affairs), including 143 in states where Williams operates, all with territorial and extra-territorial rights.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires federal agencies to consider the effects of any activity that requires a federal permit on historic properties, which includes property of cultural or religious significance to tribes. Because interstate natural gas pipelines are wholly overseen and regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), we complete Section 106 consultation on all activities that may impact historic or culturally significant property. Under the NHPA, tribes must have a reasonable opportunity to identify concerns about affected properties and to advise our company on the identification and evaluation of these properties in relation to the applicable project.

For the Atlantic Sunrise project, Williams coordinated with 21 federally recognized tribes and other non-federally-recognized tribes or stakeholders in or near the project to determine locations of cultural significance, including the location of cemeteries and burial grounds.

We also worked closely with the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission to conduct extensive fieldwork and data recording to ensure that no prehistoric archaeological deposits, eligible to the National Register of Historic Places, exist within the project construction footprint.

In fact, we excavated approximately 45,000 shovel tests following state guidelines and developed a construction plan to avoid impacts and ensure potentially sensitive areas are not disturbed. We also made numerous changes to the proposed route, as well as modifications to the project design and construction methodologies, to ensure significant cultural resources are protected.