Section 106 and Government-to-Government Consultations in the Spotlight
On September 9, in a joint statement the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), Department of Justice and Department of the Interior committed to engage in government-to-government consultations with Indian tribes on what the federal government should do to better ensure meaningful tribal input into infrastructure project reviews and decisions. The consultations would also address whether new legislation should be proposed to Congress to promote protection of tribal lands, resources, and treaty rights when these projects are undertaken.
The announcement followed a decision the same day by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that denied a motion filed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that would have temporarily enjoined construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). DAPL is a proposed 1,168-mile oil pipeline that would stretch from the Bakken fields of North Dakota to Pakota, Illinois, and cross properties of religious and cultural significance to the Standing Rock Sioux and other Indian tribes. Construction of DAPL requires federal permits and approvals, most notably from the Corps.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) became involved in the case after receiving expressions of concern from tribes and other stakeholders about the Corps’ compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Section 106 requires federal agencies to consider the effects on historic properties of projects the agencies carry out, permit, license, approve, or financially assist. The ACHP concluded that the Corps’ efforts to comply with Section 106 were deficient. The Corps disagreed and issued the necessary permits and approvals.
While the court decision is being appealed, the Corps and the Departments of Justice and the Interior sent a formal invitation on September 23 to tribal leaders to launch a series of consultation sessions to address the broader issues of tribal engagement in infrastructure reviews. The ACHP will be fully engaged in these sessions.
The ACHP's ongoing work with the development of policy recommendations to improve the national historic preservation program on its 50th anniversary will also benefit from the input received through the consultations.
Section 106 and the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: General Information and Guidance
The ACHP adopted a plan to support the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration) on March 1, 2013. In the plan, the ACHP commits to raising awareness about the Declaration in the historic preservation community and incorporating the principles and aspirations of the Declaration into ACHP initiatives and programs. As part of the effort to raise awareness, the ACHP also committed to developing guidance on the intersection of the process under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (Section 106) and the Declaration. Read more.
Native American Youth
In 2015, in response to the Administration's initiative, Generation Indigenous, the ACHP adopted a strategic plan to support and guide its Native Youth Program. This summer, the ACHP reached out to tribal leaders and historic preservation staff for advice about meeting the needs of tribal youth and respecting tribal cultures in the Native Youth Program. One of the outcomes is the issuance of resource materials for Native youth and for adults that work with Native youth. The materials include a fact sheet about historic preservation, advice for youth about how to become involved, information about careers in historic preservation, and what adults can do to support Native youth. For more information about the program and copies of the documents, click here.