The Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) is focusing on indigenous knowledge in the Section 106 process to help practitioners more fully understand what it is and how it is used in the process. Through this initiative, ONAA is also promoting respect for indigenous knowledge and highlighting the cultural significance of indigenous knowledge to historic properties. While there is no legal definition of indigenous or traditional knowledge, ONAA will work with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs) to develop appropriate means to explain the importance of indigenous knowledge and its value in the Section 106 process.

Why Indigenous Knowledge is Important
Section 54 U.S.C. 302706 of the National Historic Preservation Act clarifies that properties of religious and cultural importance to an Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization may be determined eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, these properties must be considered in the Section 106 review process. The knowledge, or special expertise, brought to the process by tribal and Native Hawaiian participants is the basis for identifying such historic properties.

ONAA Goals and Objectives
ONAA is initially focusing on educating federal and state agencies, cultural resource professionals, applicants, and other Section 106 participants about the role of indigenous knowledge in the Section 106 process. The first step towards that goal is to develop an information paper in consultation with Indian tribes and NHOs to ensure it respectfully and accurately talks about indigenous knowledge.

ONAA will also reach out to the ACHP’s preservation partners to promote this initiative.

ONAA Outreach
ONAA has already started discussions with indigenous peoples about indigenous knowledge and participated in this year’s session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UN PFII) in April in New York.

During the UN PFII, the U.S. government offered a statement about its efforts to protect traditional knowledge, which the ACHP helped to draft. The ACHP, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. hosted a side event on traditional knowledge, in conjunction with the UN PFII session. The side event was intended to begin a discussion with indigenous representatives about how the U.S. government should work with traditional knowledge. Key Recommendations, Questions, and Comments raised by attendees at the US Government Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Side Event on Traditional Knowledge.

The ACHP has also hosted several teleconference discussions with tribal representatives. And, the ACHP and EPA hosted two webinars about traditional knowledge for EPA staff.




DOI BOEM Alaska Region
Traditional Knowledge

DOI BOEM and the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management
Traditional Knowledge Implementation: Accessing Community Panels of Subject Matter Experts

Ocean Science: Special Issue on Traditional Knowledge

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Application by Service Scientists

NOAA Fisheries Greater Atlantic Region
Traditional Ecological Knowledge


The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is providing the following links for information purposes only. The ACHP cannot attest to the accuracy or content of any non-ACHP website. Linking to a non-ACHP site does not constitute an endorsement by the ACHP or by any of its employees to the information and/or products that may be presented on the outside site. You will be subject to the destination site's privacy policy when you follow the link. 

Local and Indigenous Knowledge Systems

The United Nations Inter-Agency Support Group (IASG) on Indigenous Issues
The Knowledge of Indigenous Peoples and Policies for Sustainable Development: Updates and Trends in the Second Decade of the World’s Indigenous People

United Nations: Human Rights Council, Thirtieth session
Promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples with respect to their cultural heritage
Study by the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples




Also known as Traditional Knowledge