GM 12-105

National Park Service Request for Comments on Traditional Cultural Properties and Native American Landscapes

On August 10, 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) published a notice in the FEDERAL REGISTER soliciting written comments regarding its initiative to revise its National Register of Historic Places guidance for “identifying, evaluating, and documenting properties that are historically significant as Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs) and/or Native American landscapes.” 77 Fed. Reg. 47875 (copy attached). NPS is seeking comments from its “tribal, national, state, and local historic preservation partners,” regional NPS offices and National Parks, other federal agencies, and the general public. As we reported in our General Memorandum 12-044 (March 23, 2012), NPS has also begun to engage in consultation with Indian tribes regarding this initiative. The deadline for submitting comments in response to the FEDERAL REGISTER notice is October 31, 2012.

Any property that is eligible for the National Register is subject to the review process under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, whenever such a property would be affected by a proposed federal or federally-assisted undertaking. If an Indian tribe attaches religious and cultural importance to a historic property that would be affected by such an undertaking, the tribe has a right to be a consulting party in the section 106 process.

As stated in the notice, NPS is seeking input on how to update its published guidance documents. One of the key guidance documents is National Register Bulletin 38: Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties1 Specific issues on which NPS seeks input include:

● What constitutes a “traditional” community?
● “Continuity of use” by a traditional community
● Evolving uses of resources by a traditional community
● Multiple lines of documentary evidence
● Broad ethnographic landscapes
● Property boundaries
● Resource integrity

We note that the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has also engaged in an initiative on Native American cultural landscapes. The Advisory Council’s action plan and related documents are available on the Council’s website.

Please let us know if we may provide assistance regarding the National Park Service initiative on Traditional Cultural Properties and Native American landscapes.

1 Available at