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Tribal Cultural and Historic Preservation:
An Overview of Federal Laws for Protecting
Sacred Lands, Artifacts and Graves



The right of tribes to preserve and protect their history and culture both on and off Indian lands should never be in question. As history illustrates, however, many non-Indian groups, such as states, Park Service employees, advisory committees and even collectors, challenge this most basic right.

This class examines the major laws that address historical, archeological, graves protection and religious freedom rights of individual Indians and Indian tribes. The principles of each statute will be carefully outlined to clearly explain tribal and other parties’ rights and responsibilities under each law.

A full understanding of the law is only the first step. We’ll also concentrate on creating innovative protection and preservation solutions. Through interactive exercises, group discussions and case studies, learn how to use the law as a tool for developing preservation strategies for your tribe. Identify techniques that will best suit your tribal needs, like implementing an educational program or, if necessary, taking legislative action. Learn how the 2013 handbook from the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the White House Council on Environmental Quality can help you coordinate required review processes under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Discuss effective strategies, standard practices and innovative plans to protect your tribe’s precious cultural and historic resources.

T O P I C S   I N C L U D E
Overview of the Law
  • Tribal cultural and historic preservation law
  • Summary of federal law
  • Repatriation law
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)
  • History and regulations
  • Park Service Bulletin 38 guidelines
  • Traditional Indian cultural properties
  • Role of the National Advisory Council
  • Authority of state historic preservation officers
  • Tribal preservation programs
  • Confidentiality and exception to FOIA
  • Tribal authority over non-tribal lands
  • Office of Management and Budget review
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
  • Overview of NEPA
  • Protecting historic, cultural and natural heritage from impacts of federal actions
Coordinating Review Processes Under NEPA and NHPA
  • Handbook for integrating NEPA and Section 106:
    • Relationship between section 106 and NEPA
    • Road map for coordination
    • Road map for substitution
    • Emergency procedures
    • Timing of decisions and continuing collaboration
    • Lessons learned and best practices
Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA)
  • History and regulations
  • Items and places covered under ARPA
  • Definition of “Indian land”
  • Prohibited acts
  • Permit requirements
  • Criminal and civil penalties
  • Tribal authority to regulate
American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA)
  • History of the Act
  • Religious rights protected
  • Access to sites
  • Ceremonies and traditional rights
  • Tribal input regarding land management decisions
  • Ling v. Northwest Indian Cemetery Protection Association
  • Executive Order 13007
  • Accommodation by federal agencies
  • Maintaining confidentiality of Indian information
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA)
  • NAGPRA implementation and penalties
  • Categories of cultural items
  • Item identification (museums and agencies)
  • Repatriation of human remains and cultural items
  • The Smithsonian Institution
  • Excavations on federally owned Indian lands
  • Developing a repatriation program
  • The Kennewick decision
  • Legislative update
Case Law
  • Navajo Nation v. U.S. Forest Service
Crafting Innovative Preservation and Protection Solutions
  • Legislative approaches
  • Pan-tribal organizations
  • Capturing a public constituency
  • Proactive affiliation research
  • Education
  • Museums
  • How to use your tribal ordinance
Other Opportunities for Preservation, Protection and Funding
  • Antiquities Act
  • Archaeological and Historic Preservation Act
  • Department of Transportation Act
  • Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
  • American Folklife Preservation Act
Establishing Cultural Affiliation
  • Scientific sources
  • Traditional sources
  • Legal sources
Conflicts and Obstacles to Preservation
  • Protecting tribal interests
  • Educating the general public
  • The impact of mainstream perceptions
  • Conflicting ethnic and cultural claims
  • Federal vs. state, county or local interests
  • Challenges to education

*Topics subject to change.

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