Memorandum of Understanding for the Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites


I. Purpose and Principles

The Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, and Energy, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, (Participating Agencies) entered into the Memorandum of Understanding, Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites (MOU), to improve the  protection of, and tribal access to, Indian sacred sites through enhanced and improved interdepartmental coordination and collaboration.

The Participating Agencies have amended the duration of the MOU from its original deadline of December 31 , 2017, to December 31 , 2024, in order to accomplish all of the commitments in the MOU. All other terms of the MOU, originally executed on December 5, 2012, remain the same. 

II. Background

Federal land managing agencies hold in public trust a great diversity of landscapes, including many culturally important sites held sacred by Indian tribes. Indian tribes are defined here as an American Indian or Alaska Native tribe, band, nation, pueblo, village, or community that the Secretary of the Interior acknowledges to exist as an Indian tribe pursuant to Public Law No. 103-454, 108 Stat. 4791. All Federal agencies are responsible for assessing the potential effects of undertakings they carry out, fund, or permit on historic properties of traditional cultural and religious importance to Indian tribes including sacred sites. While the physical and administrative contexts in which Federal agencies encounter sacred sites vary greatly, similarities do exist. Because of those similarities, the Participating Agencies recognize that consistency in policies and processes can be developed and applied, as long as they remain adaptable to local situations.