Many historic places supported by the National Trust have strong associations with Native American communities, such as the Nantucket Sound or the Mount Taylor National Treasure in New Mexico
. And although these are some of the oldest and most sacred sites in America, their continued preservation is not secure. Legal advocacy, however, is one way that communities everywhere can continue the good work of protecting these places. But sorting through complicated laws is not an easy task.
Through the generosity of a grant provided by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation
, the National Trust is working to address this problem, and to this end has released its most recent publication, Preserving Native American Places: A Guide to Federal Laws and Policies that Help Protect Cultural Resources and Sacred Sites
. Written in layperson’s terms, Preserving Native American Places
gives examples of laws that communities everywhere can use to protect their history, culture, and places that they value. Illustrations of successes—and failures—help show how these laws work in a practical real-world way.
Using a “Question and Answer” format, Preserving Native American Places
is organized in four parts with representative illustrations, with a special focus on tribal participation. Part 1 focuses on the National Historic Preservation Act and other laws that require federal agencies to address the effects of government actions that could harm Native American historic sites, including traditional cultural properties. Part 2 explores the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and the National Museum of the American Indian Act. Part 3 discusses protections available under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the Antiquities Act of 1906, and other permitting and enforcement laws. And finally, Part 4 highlights the role of the United States Constitution in protecting religious freedoms and federal statutes that could augment that protection.
Although Preserving Native American Places
cannot provide a substitute for legal counsel, it is hoped that the guide will help strip away some of the complexity that surrounds federal preservation law, empower communities with knowledge about their legal rights, and give direction to preservation advocates everywhere seeking to protect the places that matter to their communities.
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