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Emily Choi, who joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation on September 3, 2019, as an assistant historic preservation specialist with the Office of Federal Agency Programs has won the Lawyers’ Committee on Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP) student writing competition.

Choi, a former ACHP intern, will receive a $500 award from LCCHP for her paper, “Safeguarding Native American Traditional Knowledge Under Existing Legal Frameworks: Why and How Federal Agencies must Re-Interpret FOIA’s ‘Trade Secret Exemption.’ ” She also will be featured on the LCCHP website.

The paper identifies confidentiality of sacred sites-related traditional knowledge as a major problem for Indian tribes participating in the Section 106 process. She proposed principles of trust responsibility and intellectual property protection, in order to persuade federal agencies toward a solution, to concretize a new, mutually beneficial interpretation of FOIA through the issuance of interpretive guidance.

Choi plans to eventually expand the paper so it addresses a larger audience, in particular, applicants in federal permitting, licensing, and assistance agency projects. Rather than new or amended laws and policies, she plans to propose novel and creative legal solutions, which tribes can utilize during Section 106.

The LCCHP is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the stewardship of the objects, places, and traditions that define us as societies, nations, civilizations, and human beings. They are lawyers, legal scholars, and law enforcement agents—but also anthropologists, archaeologists, architects, art historians, students, and others—who champion preservation through the justice system. Through their educational programs and resources, they also are working to prepare a new generation of advocates, as well as educate the public.

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