So, once again I’ve been asked by a tribal historic preservation person – I don’t know his or her exact title or tribe – about how to nominate a tribal traditional cultural place (TCP) to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). The place is apparently a largish landscape with diverse property owners. I spun my broken record (scratched CD) and asked why in the world the tribe wanted to nominate it.
“So federal agencies will have to consider it in planning and permitting,” was the response.
Wearily cranking my disc around again, I asked why the tribe didn’t simply document why the landscape was significant and tell the agencies to regard it as eligible for the NRHP, as the Section 106 regulations allow.
“Then it won’t be in the State inventory,” was the response, “and if it’s not in the State inventory they ignore it.”
Well, gee, tribes, let’s by all means accept that.
Never mind that the law doesn’t say to take into account only places included in the NRHP, or that happen to be in the State inventory. Never mind that if an agency isn’t addressing impacts on ELIGIBLE places it’s breaking the law. Never mind that it’s undoing almost fifty years of hard-won education in preservation planning principles. That’s the way the Great White Father wants to do business, so we just gotta say "yessir" and get busy doing the agency’s work for it.
Look, if you don’t insist that agencies do what the law requires, you’re accessories in their malfeasance, and in the destruction of your heritage. You’re supposed to be sovereign governments; why don’t you try acting like you are?