The Office of Native American Affairs (ONAA) is focusing on traditional knowledge in the Section 106 process to help practitioners more fully understand it and its role in the process. While there is no legal definition of traditional knowledge, ONAA is working with Indian Tribes, kanaka maoli (indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands) and Native Hawaiian organizations (NHOs) to develop appropriate means to explain the importance of indigenous knowledge and its value in the Section 106 process. Traditional Knowledge and the Section 106 Process: Information for Federal Agencies and Other Participants, an outcome of this collaboration, explores the concept of traditional knowledge and clarifies its role in the Section 106 review process.

In preparing this paper, the ACHP worked with representatives of Tribal nations and kanaka maoli (the indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands) to develop appropriate ways to discuss traditional knowledge. The paper includes appendices with a small sample of information about traditional knowledge shared by Tribal and kanaka maoli experts. The ACHP is grateful to all those who helped write this paper and contributed their knowledge.

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 started discussions with indigenous peoples about traditional knowledge and participated in the eighteenth session of the United Nations’ Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UN PFII) entitled, Traditional knowledge: Generation, Transmission and Protection. During the session, the U.S. government offered a statement about its efforts to protect traditional knowledge, which the ACHP helped draft. The ACHP, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Mission to the U.N. also hosted a side event on traditional knowledge, in conjunction with the UN PFII session. The side event was intended to begin a discussion with U.S. indigenous representatives about how the U.S. government should work with traditional knowledge. The ACHP and EPA also hosted two webinars about traditional knowledge for EPA staff.

Key Recommendations, Questions, and Comments raised by attendees at the US Government Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues Side Event on Traditional Knowledge.



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Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality
Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Indigenous Knowledge

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) Guidance Document Pursuant to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA)

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

Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Traditional Ecological Knowledge for Application by Service Scientists

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 Indigenous Knowledge