Last week, ACHP Office of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples Director Ira L. Matt (on detail to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) participated in the 2023 White House Tribal Nations Summit (Summit) at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The Summit provided the President and members of his Cabinet the opportunity to engage and consult with Tribal leaders on a nation-to-nation basis.

During the Summit, the President and members of his Cabinet announced new actions and updates that will build upon the progress that has already been made, create new opportunities for Tribal consultation and input, and address critical issues impacting Tribal Nations.

As an active participant on the White House Council on Native American Affairs (WHCNAA), the ACHP participated in the Summit, connecting with colleagues, meeting with Tribal leadership, and sharing the accomplishments the agency has been working to advance for the past year. A primary focus of the ACHP’s participation in the WHCNAA is to ensure cultural resources and sacred sites are considered at all levels of government, particularly those significant to Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian organizations, and other Indigenous Peoples.

The White House released two documents highlighting key accomplishments and action items, including a 2023 White House Progress Report for Tribal Nations and a 2023 Tribal Nations Summit Fact Sheet.

The ACHP contributed to the report and fact sheet in a variety of ways:

Indigenous Knowledge and Historic Preservation–The 2023 progress report highlights the ACHP’s ongoing efforts to draft a Policy Statement on Indigenous Knowledge and Historic Preservation. It also highlights New Tribal Affairs Positions, including the service of Ira Matt as the first Assistant Director for Indigenous Engagement and Native American Affairs at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). This position will lead OSTP’s engagement with Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiians, and other Indigenous Peoples and will provide a whole-of-government approach to elevate and incorporate Indigenous Knowledge into federal decision making consistent with the Administration’s 2022 release of its Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies on Indigenous Knowledge.

Sacred Sites Best Practices Guide–During the Summit, the President announced the release of a WHCNAA Best Practices Guide for Tribal and Native Hawaiian Sacred Sites, which provides best practices, procedures, and guidance for the management, treatment, and protection of sacred sites, identifies barriers to federal protection of sacred sites, and recommendations to remedy those barriers.

Recommendations to Improve Mining on Public Lands–As part of its Sacred Sites achievements, the Administration highlighted work completed by an interagency Working Group on Mining Regulations, Laws, and Permitting that included the ACHP. The interagency team developed, submitted, and presented a report to Congress in September 2023 that supports the included regulatory and policy recommendations designed to protect Tribal interests and resources from the impacts of mining.

Supporting Administration Efforts Related to Graves Protection and Repatriation–The report highlights efforts the ACHP took in 2023 to publish its Policy Statement on Burial Site, Human Remains, and Funerary Objects and the associated Burial Policy Guidance Document that addresses the role that Indigenous Knowledge, climate change impacts, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and sacred sites have in the ongoing consideration of, and care for, burial sites, human remains, and funerary objects.

Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights—As a signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Tribal Treaty Rights and Reserved Rights, the ACHP supported efforts to draft an addendum on the Indian Canons of Construction to the 2022 Best Practices Guide for Identifying and Protecting Tribal Treaty Rights, Reserved Rights, and Other Similar Rights in Federal Regulatory Actions and Federal Decision Making. Once integrated, this supplement will inform federal agency officials about applying the Indian Canons of Construction to treaties with Tribes and specific statutes.

Advancing International Indigenous Rights and Partnerships–The ACHP supported the Administration’s accomplishments in this area as a member of the WHCNAA International Indigenous Committee. It collaborated with a group of Harvard University students to produce a cross-comparative analysis of the progress of several nations in pursuing the goals of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

For any questions regarding the ACHP’s involvement in the WHCNAA or the Tribal Nations Summit, please contact Ira Matt at

Learn more about the ACHP’s Office of Tribal and Indigenous Peoples.