Tribal Resources

This page provides California Tribes with relevant information, tools, and resources for navigating cannabis policies across the state while protecting Tribal Cultural Resources (TCRs).

These resources are the result of a two-year research project (2021-2023), funded by the California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), about the impacts of cannabis permitting on Native American lands and communities.

Resource Topics

Our Research Findings on Indigenous sovereignty over cannabis permitting:

By compiling and sharing resources, our goal is to strengthen Indigenous sovereignty over cannabis permitting in California. Overall, our two-year study examines intergovernmental consultation between Native American Tribes and public agencies. Specifically, we consider resource protection under Assembly Bill 52, which requires public agencies to consult with tribes during the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.

Our project identified Tribes’ concerns about:

  • the cannabis permitting process,

  • potential impacts to Tribal Cultural Resources,

  • consistency of cannabis permitting policies and practices with Tribal sovereignty.

Our research team is informed by a Tribal Advisory Committee on each phase of project design. This includes data collection, analysis, and dissemination of results. In the course of this research we conducted two statewide surveys, one for agency representatives and one for tribal representatives. We led over 60 semi-structured interviews with state and local planners, Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, cultural resource managers, and cannabis growers.

Products from this research include:

  • A Policy Brief on Tribal priorities and sovereignty in cannabis permitting

  • Guidelines for DCC to consider in future funding, regulation, and programming

  • GIS layers and Mapping Tools for protecting Tribal Cultural Resources from cannabis development, while ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information

  • Webinars and Workshops on intergovernmental relations, AB 52 and other topics.

The study identified three critical needs for Tribal governments as they navigate cannabis policy and work to protect Tribal Cultural Resources (TCRs):

  • Understanding of cannabis policy and land use ordinances

  • Mapping technology and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

  • Tribal consultation.

Map of California that highlights density of cannabis sites per tribal territory. Highest densities are in northwest California area known as the Emerald Triangle.
Map of California showing permitted cannabis sites and tribal territories.

Maps from UC Berkeley research depict the density and potential impact of permitted cannabis sites on Tribal territories and land holdings.

 Policy & Land Use Ordinances

for Cannabis Cultivation

Many of the Tribal representatives we interviewed expressed concern around the changing policies associated with legal recreational cannabis in California.

The following section provides the text of the California laws governing cannabis, as well as links to determine specific cannabis land use ordinances by county.

The DCC Mapping Tool also provides jurisdictionally specific information on cannabis businesses. Contact information for California Tribal Liaisons can also be found here.

State Policy | Adult Use of Marijuana Act (2016)

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, enacted in 2016, allows for the cultivation of cannabis in California. The prior year, in 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed into Law the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MCRSA) which provided a legal framework for medical cannabis.

State Policy | Medicinal & Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation & Safety Act

In 2017, the state passed the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA). It merged the state’s medical-only regulations passed by the legislature (MCRSA) with the adult-use rules approved by the voters under Prop. 64 (AUMA).

County Policy | Local land use controls cannabis cultivation rules

Each County sets its own rules for land use pertaining to cannabis agriculture. Cannabis Land Use Ordinances for each of California’s 58 counties can be found at the California State Association of Counties with the keyword search “Cannabis Ordinance”.

Statewide Map | DCC Cannabis Policy Mapping Tool

California’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) hosts their DCC Mapping Tool that can help identify cannabis policies in different regions of California based on county or city.

Communications | State Tribal liaisons

Many state agencies have a Tribal Liaison, including the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Department of Cannabis Control. Download the latest Tribal Liaison Contact Information from the Governor’s Office of Tribal Affairs.

Overview map of California jurisdictions that allow or prohibit cannabis businesses.

Access to Digital Mapping &

Geographic Information System (GIS)

Our research revealed vast differences in GIS capacity among Tribes. A geographic information system (GIS) is a computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.

Our spatial analysis of permitted cannabis cultivation sites in California also revealed uneven distribution cultivation sites across aboriginal and ancestral Tribal lands.


The following links are meant to provide tribes access to resources especially related to GIS and mapping.

Cannabis Mapping Tool

Our research team created a Cannabis Site Mapping Tool to provide Tribes a means to spatially assess the extent of cannabis agriculture on their ancestral or aboriginal territory in order to determine possible threats to TCRs and sensitive sites.

ArcGIS Pro Software | Branch of Geospatial Support

The Branch of Geospatial Support (BOGS), offers free Geospatial Training to federally recognized Tribal employees!

BOGS will provide  geospatial software and support to:  authorized Bureau of Indian Affairs employees, federally recognized Tribal employees, and contracted or compacted Tribal employees under Public Law 93-638.

To access the latest version of ArcGIS Pro, visit the BOGS website and scroll down to “Obtain Geospatial Software”.


ESRI ArcGIS Resources for Tribes

Esri, the company that makes ArcGIS products, also offers Software and Technical Assistance to Tribes. In addition, Esri hosts a Tribal Story Map contest each year. Be sure to check out the winners gallery.

Non-Profit Organizations

The National Tribal Geographic Information Support Center (NTGISC) website, TribalGIS, offers a Learning GIS Webinar Series designed for Tribal governments.

Mapping Indigenous Lands, a text resource produced by the Center for the Support of Native Lands at the Environmental Law Institute demonstrates successful indigenous mapping projects whose “primary objective … is to claim and defend ancestral lands and natural resources.”

Native Land Digital is a not-for-profit organization that strives to create and foster conversations about the history of colonialism, Indigenous ways of knowing, and settler-Indigenous relations. Their mapping platform has been expanding over the past several years and is freely available to use and download.

Online Tutorials 

YouTube tutorials can be a useful resource for learning the basics of ArcGIS Pro.

Logo for ESRI's ArcGIS Pro
Three photographs taken from the ESRI Storymaps website showing scenes of a sunset, a wetland and a herd-grazing animal.

2023 Esri Tribal Story Map Challenge winners

Tribal Consultation | Links & Resources

A key finding from our research is the importance of Tribal Consultation.

Many Tribal representatives reported that Tribal Consultation was lacking or entirely absent from cannabis projects in their jurisdictions.

The following links are related to Tribal Consultation, including information on laws, statutes, and policies relating to tribal consultation and environmental governance.

U.S. Department of Interior | Bureau of Indian Affairs

At the federal level, the Bureau of Indian Affairs states that “a Tribal consultation is a formal, two-way, government-to-government dialogue between official representatives of Tribes and Federal agencies to discuss Federal proposals before the Federal agency makes decisions on those proposals.”

California State Bills

At the statewide level, California has two laws aimed at ensuring effective Tribal consultation.

• Senate Bill 18

Senate Bill 18 (full text) requires a city or county to conduct consultations with any California Native American tribe that requests consultation.

A useful resource for interpreting SB 18 is the California Tribal Consultation Guidelines from the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and hosted by the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC).

• Assembly Bill 52

Assembly Bill 52 (full text) requires public agencies to consult with tribes during the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process.

The NAHC offers an AB 52 Best Practices Guide for Tribes.

The Governors Office of Planning and Research also offers AB 52: A CEQA Guidelines Update for Tribal Cultural Resources

In collaboration with United Auburn Indian Community, our research team is developing an AB-52 Guide specific to local and state agencies, to completed in the Fall of 2023. Once posted, please share the link with your local and state permitting and land management departments to inform them of their important role in ensuring that Tribes are consulted and that Tribal Cultural Resources are protected.

Tribal Assistance programs & agencies

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) offers a Tribal Assistance Program.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has several links for assisting Tribes including the CalEPA Tribal Consultation Protocol.

The California Water Boards are committed to improving communications and working relationships with California Native American Tribes. In June 2019, the California Water Boards finalized its Tribal Consultation Policy.

The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) identifies, catalogs, and protects Native American cultural resources — along with many other powers and duties. The NAHC offers a Tribal Cultural Resource Law Training as well as many other resources and services for California Tribes.

Native American Heritage Commission logo

The California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) was created in 1976 to identify, catalog and protect Native American cultural resources.