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Tribal Historic Preservation Office

About Us

The Oneida Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.

THPO History

The THPO is funded by the National Park Service Grant, and administered by the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. It is located within the Cultural Heritage Department.  In 2003 our department became the 35th tribe to have the same status as the state level Historic Preservation Office capacity.

Earth moving projects within reservation boarders can consist of projects such as road repair, bridge replacements/ repair, wetland, subdivisions, stream restorations, demolitions, easement, fee to trust status individual home improvements, any type of construction and more.

Each year the Tribal Historic Preservation Program reviews various federal, state, local and tribal projects, such as the Department of Transportation (DOT), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Army Core of Engineers (ACOE), Housing Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture, conservation, as well as other projects.

Internal Responsibilities of the THPO (101(d) 2)

Although these positions vary from tribe to tribe, THPO positions typically are responsible for carrying out the Memorandum of Agreement between the Nation Park Service and the Tribe as outlines in National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).  These agreements contain responsibilities that include but are not limited to the following: review and concur with all section 106 projects within the boundaries of the reservation, conduct a reservation wide survey, provide outreach and education, nominate properties to the National Register, consult with federal agencies regarding historic preservation activates.  These positions are also responsible to consult with federal agencies regarding historic properties of significance to their tribes off reservation as well.

A tribal historic preservations officer’s role is the same as State of Wisconsin SHPO (State Historical Preservation officer); each tribal government also has its own cultural resource officer.  These are called Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPO’s).  These officers are determined by tribal governmental resolution and serve to inform and protect tribal cultural resources for the tribe, state, and federal agencies.  These positions are established pursuant to 101 (d) 2 of the National Historic Preservation Act.  The THPO upholds their respective tribe’s cultural resources law and policies on their respective reservations as well as the consultation of off reservation projects as well. Tribes that have assumed the function of the State Historic Preservation Office within the exterior boundaries of their reservation must be consulted in lieu of the SHPO for all undertakings occurring on or affecting historic properties of tribal lands.

The historic preservation program utilizes a variety of expertise on our cultural resources.  Tribal cultural resource expert roles typically have knowledge and expertise regarding the location, care, and treatment of historic properties.  Their expertise may include cultural resource identification of human remains, associated and unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony.

These positions typically carry a unique role within our community.  They may be spiritual advisors, elders, cultural committee workers, environmentalists, and/or cultural resource specialist.

It is critical that agencies enlist the expertise of tribal experts particularly when historic properties exit within a project area of potential effect.  Services may include but are not limited to: Archaeological investigations, traditional cultural assessments, oral interviews, research recommendations, monitoring construction activates, development of appropriate care and treatment or long term management of the area.

This is an overview of some of the federal laws and regulations most useful in protecting historic, cultural and sacred places of most concern to Indian Tribes.  The information is focused on some of the roles of federal agencies and the specific roles of tribes under those laws.

Legislative Requirements to consult with Indian Tribes.  Consultation with Indian governments regarding historic and cultural resource is defined by the following federal laws and executive orders:  The National Historic Preservation Act as amended, The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and The Archaeological Resource Protection Act.

Executive Order 13306 (1996) Sacred Sites

This order applies on federal land and directs the federal agencies to accommodate access to and ceremonial use of Indian sacred sites by Indian religious practitioners, as well as to avoid adversely affecting the physical integrity of such sacred sites.  Although federal agencies must consult with tribes to learn the existence of places, which requires management decisions to be made, the directive requires agencies to maintain the confidentiality of sacred sites where appropriate for their protection.

Executive Order 13084 (1998) Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments (Presidential order by President Bill Clinton)

This order reaffirms the unique government-to-government relationship between agencies and tribes.  This order makes it clear that the obligation is upon federal (state) government and not the tribes to initiate and ensure that consolation occurs on a timely basis.  The consultation is defined as an activity to obtain meaningful and timely input from tribes on matters that significantly or uniquely affect tribal communities.  In those instances where tribal laws exist, agencies are to defer to tribes and waive agency control. Further, rulemaking on matters of concern to tribes should include consultation with tribes, necessitating the development of consensual mechanism to arrive at agreements.  The Executive Order embodies that complete shift to enfranchised status of the tribe in the post-1960 era of tribal self-determination and sovereignty.

Executive Order 13175 (2000) Consultation with Indian Tribal Governments (Presidential Order by President George W. Bush)

This order is to help establish regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have tribal implications. It directs that agencies respect treaty rights and grant wide discretion to tribes in self-governance and the development of tribal and federal policies.  Further, this order directs each agency to develop a collaboration process with Native Nations.

Executive Memorandum, (September 2004) Government-to-government Relationship with Tribal Governments (Presidential order by President George W. Bush)

This Memorandum recognizes the unique legal and political relationship of tribes, and reaffirms that each executive department and agency fully respects the rights of self-government and self-determination in their working relationships with federally recognized tribal governments.

Execute Order #39 (Governor Jim Doyle)

This order recognizes the sovereignty of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes and ensures the government-to-government relationship between all the state agencies and tribal governments.

Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Role

NAGPRA representatives are individuals determined by tribal government resolution who have expertise in their respective tribe’s identification and repatriation of Native American remains and funerary objects.  NAGPRA representatives represent their tribes on state, federal, and inter-tribal levels.  Tribes can determine that an individual can be both the THPO and NAGPRA representative.

These positions typically consult with agencies regarding the care and treatment of Native American human remains.  The THPO also specializes in the care and treatment of cultural items that are discovered during projects.  They also have knowledge on the significance of those items that are discovered.  They also consult with museums and institutions that hold their collected objects that fall into the categories of NAGPRA.

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)

NHPA requires consultation with Indian tribes on places of significance.  It also helps identify and determine the treatment modalities within the area of potential effect of an undertaking.  Consultation is also required with tribes that have assumed historic preservation duties as THPO’s for sites on tribal land.  NHPA also consults with tribes on the mitigation of effects to historic and sacred places on federal land.  However, 36 C.F.R. 800.2 (c) states in part: section 101 (d) (6) (B) of the act requires that agency official to consult with any Indian tribe and Native Hawaiian organization that attaches religious and cultural significance to historic properties that may be affected by an undertaking.  This requirement applies regardless of the location of the historic property.

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