Tribes Receive $2.2M in Historic Preservation Grants

Gale Courey Toensing


More than 100 tribal nations will share $2.2 million in federal grants for historic preservation.

The National Park Service announced Thursday that the annual Tribal Historic Preservation Office fund will distribute partial grant awards to 135 tribes.

“Tribal historic preservation offices are the fastest growing preservation partnerships within the national historic preservation program, showing the value that tribes place on preserving historic places and protecting tribal cultural traditions,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said in a statement. “These grants allow tribes to focus on what they are most concerned with protecting – Native language, oral history, plant and animal species important in traditions, sacred and historic places, and the establishment of tribal historic preservation offices.”

The grants range from around $13,000 to $22,000. Tribes need to submit applications for this part of their grant and then apply again for the final portion of the award when that amount has been determined.

The annual appropriations were established in 1992 when Congress amended the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The amendment put Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPO) on par with State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPO) with respect to tribal land, including conducting Section 106 reviews of federal agency projects on tribal lands. Tribes can use the grants to fund projects such as nominations to the National Register of Historic Places, preservation education, architectural planning, community preservation plans, and bricks-and-mortar repair to buildings. Examples of recent projects funded by Historic Preservation Fund grants include:

-- historic preservation surveys of approximately 195,982 acres of tribal land resulting in 7,043 archeological sites and 1,307 historic properties being added to tribal inventories. Additionally, tribal historic preservation offices prepared nominations of 64 sites for the National Register of Historic Places;

-- a summer cultural forum hosted by the tribal historic preservation office of the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. “Reawakening Traditional Science – Exploring the Ways of our Great Basin Culture,” brought community and tribal members of all ages together for presentations on local rock art and archeology, ancient traditional art forms such as basketry and tule duck making, tribal language, oral history, and the use and care of traditional plants. The forum showed how knowledge based both on tribal traditions and contemporary science can complement each other.

John Brown, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Narragansett Indian Tribe said the grant goes into his office’s operating budget and is used to fund all programs.

Revenue for the Historic Preservation Fund comes from federal oil leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. The grants act as catalysts for private and other non-federal investment in historic preservation efforts nationwide. The National Park Service administers the fund and distributes annual matching grants to state and tribal historic preservation officers from money made available in Congressional appropriations.

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