Demand that Tribal expertise be used in complying with the National Historic Preservation Act, and support for the work of Tribal Historic Preservation Offices in preserving sacred sites both on and off the lands of Tribal Nations
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association (GPTCA) is composed of the 16 elected Chairs and Presidents or their duly appointed representatives of the sovereign Indian Tribes and Nations recognized by Treaties entered into with the United States that are within the Great Plains Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and
WHEREAS, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association was formed to promote the common interests of the Great Plains sovereign Indian Tribes and their members in the states of ND, SD and NE; and
WHEREAS, among the major tasks of all elected leaders in the Great Plains are to protect our people, or resources and our culture, including our sacred sites that sustain our spirituality; and
WHEREAS, it is critical to preserve our sacred sites and ensure that those lands remain unspoiled, untouched by development as they have been for thousands of years; and
WHEREAS, as stewards of these sacred lands, we want to ensure that these areas will be available for our grandchildren and their children; as free from destructive development as possible; and
WHEREAS, a critical tool that can be used to protect sacred sites and sacred lands are Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO), established by nearly all Tribes within the Great Plains, that help keep the Tribe and its leaders aware of current developments and upcoming projects that could adversely impact sacred sites and lands;
WHEREAS, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), allowed for the establishment of Tribal Historic Preservation Offices in 1992, which affirmed that each Indian Tribe should retain jurisdiction over its own cultural, historic and sacred sites, and affords Tribes the opportunity to consult on projects which will impact any area on which our Tribe places religious and/or cultural significance; and
WHEREAS, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of each Tribe is a designated representative who consults on undertakings which impact historic properties and (or) traditional cultural properties, and in response, under the NHPA, the Federal government has a legal and financial responsibility to comply with the requirements of the NHPA and to assist Tribes to preserve cultural and spiritually significant sites and lands; and
WHEREAS, the process under NHPA for Indian Tribes pursuant to Section 106 of NHPA requires that there be identification of historic properties, an assessment of adverse effects, an effort to resolve the adverse effects, coordination with the National Environmental Policy Act, review of Section 106 Compliance, as well as creation of standards for review and documentation, providing for emergency situations and post-review discoveries; and
WHEREAS, section 101(d)(6)(B) of the act requires the agency official to consult with any Indian Tribe or Native Hawaiian organization that attaches religious and cultural significance to historic properties that may be affected by an undertaking, a requirement that applies regardless of the location of the historic property; and
WHEREAS, based on information brought to the attention of GPTCA, we believe that the mandate of the NHPA as it is applied to Indian Tribes is not being adequately fulfilled by federal agencies, and hundreds of sites are being destroyed daily because of a lack of Tribal participation in identification of the sacred sites within any particular undertaking as defined by the NHPA; and
WHEREAS, often non-Indian archeologists and scientists are used to assess a particular site and do not have the expertise that Tribal practitioners, surveyors and monitors do to properly identify and assess our sites, particularly because these individuals do not know what to look for or how to recognize a particular sacred site; and
WHEREAS, we recognize that the process as outlined in the NHPA for protection of our sites is failing and does not work; and
WHEREAS, current regulations mandate that Federal agencies subject to the NHPA should carry out their responsibilities pursuant to a government-to-government relationship with Tribes; and each agency official subject to NHPA should consult with the representative designated or identified by the Tribal government or the governing body, which generally would be the THPO.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association hereby recognizes that government to government consultation only occurs if the Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) has been completed with the an individual THPO for the affected Tribes, and urges federal agencies to comply with all aspects of the NHPA and its implementing regulations, including proper consultation and identification of historic properties under 36 CFR 800; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association further insists that each Tribe’s cultural experts be afforded the opportunity to participate in identification of historic properties and assessing their eligibility as allowed by the NHPA and the regulations pursuant to 36 CFR 800.4 (c) (1); and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that each member Tribe of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association is urged to pass similar resolutions supporting the important tasks of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices of its Tribe; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association establishes a Sub-committee on Tribal Historic Preservation to assure full communication on sacred sites, cultural and religious significance of properties and other necessary recommendations, and
NOW THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution shall be the policy of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association until otherwise amended or rescinded or until the goal of this Resolution has been accomplished.
This resolution was enacted at a duly called meeting of the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association held at Lower Brule, South Dakota, on August 23, 2012, which a quorum was present, with 11 members voting in favor, 0 members opposed, 0 members abstaining, and 5 members not present.
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