In the fall of 2012, leaders from Columbia Basin First Nations and tribes participated, along with about 150 other people, in the 4th transboundary symposium convened by the Universities Consortium on Columbia River Governance. Gathered on the shores of Flathead Lake in Polson, Montana, the participants explored the interests, rights, roles, and responsibilities of indigenous people in the international Columbia River Basin. This symposium generated two notable outcomes: first, The Columbia River Basin: A Sense of the Future—a synthesis of interests and concerns with regard to the future of the transboundary river basin as captured by the Universities Consortium during four symposia and related research initiatives; and second, a commitment from indigenous people to continue exploring their role in the governance of the international Columbia Basin.
Following the symposium, members of the Universities Consortium continued to work with the Columbia Basin tribes and First Nations to frame an appropriate set of objectives to guide this applied research and report. After an exchange of memorandum and the creation of a steering committee, the Steering Committee agreed to a number of objectives.