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Tribal Frequently Asked Questions

What are Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs)?
The Tribal Historic Preservation Offices program is administered by the National Park Service (NPS) and assists federally-recognized Native American tribes in the preservation of their historic properties, cultural resources, and traditions. THPOs administer cultural programs and protect cultural resources. The THPO must assume some or all of the functions of State Historic Preservation Officers on tribal lands. THPOs must submit a formal plan to the National Park Service describing how the Tribal Historic Preservation Office functions will be carried out. 
 
The program began in 1990 with the first twelve THPOs established in 1996. As of 2014, the number of THPOs has grown to more than 150 across the country. There are 32 THPO programs in California. For more information about the program, visit the NPS website.


Where can I find a List of THPO tribes in California?
The Office of Historic Preservation (OHP) currently maintains a list of THPOs in California. The list is updated, as needed, to reflect changes in THPO information and staff.

The National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers also maintains a current list of THPOs in California and across the United States.

To update or change information about a particular THPO in California, please contact the Office of Historic Preservation at calshpo@parks.ca.gov or 916-445-7000. When a request is made by someone other than a member of that tribe, the OHP will first verify the new information with the tribe to ensure the requested change is correct.

What services do Tribal Historic Preservation Offices offer?
The responsibilities and services of individual THPOs vary. THPOs assume some or all of the functions of State Historic Preservation Officers on tribal lands pursuant to Section 101(d) of the National Historic Preservation Act. These responsibilities may include surveys of tribal historic properties; maintaining an inventory of such properties, preparation and implementation of a tribal-wide historic preservation plan, and assisting federal agencies in the Section 106 review of undertakings on tribal lands. THPOs may be delegated by the Secretary of the Interior to serve as the historic preservation officer for tribal lands but may not have been delegated by their tribal governments to function as sole contact for federal undertakings on and off tribal lands. For federal undertakings of interest off tribal lands (such as private, local, state, or federal lands), the THPO may not assume the role of SHPO as they would on tribal lands.

If an undertaking’s area of potential effect (APE) is located outside tribal lands overseen by the THPO, the THPO may serve as the official representative designated by his/her tribe to represent its interests in Section 106 consultations.

Agencies should contact both tribal government leaders and the tribe’s designated Tribal Historic Preservation Officer prior to initiation of Section 106 consultation to determine points of contact. Other services THPOs may provide are listed below:

• THPOs may also provide public information, education, and training in historic preservation.
• THPOS may advise and assist in evaluation of proposals for rehabilitation projects that may qualify for Federal assistance.
• THPOs may administer cultural programs such as workshops, language revitalization programs.
• THPOs work in tribal communities to offer cultural and heritage tourism, especially to the state’s citizens, including operating tribal museums, archives, and research departments.
• THPOs may cooperate with local governments and assist with local government certification (when feasible)
• THPOs often take on the responsibilities of Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) representation for their tribes.


What resources are available for Tribal consultation practices?
There are several good resources for consultation practices between tribal governments and agencies. Below are links to consultation policies from state, federal, and tribal programs:

California Natural Resources Agency Tribal Consultation Policy

Advisory Council on Historic Preservation Tribal Consultation Handbook 

National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers

U.S. Department of the Interior Tribal Consultation Policy


What are Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs) under Bulletin 38 of the National Register of Historic Places?
Traditional Cultural Properties are eligible for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Preservation because of their association with cultural practices and beliefs that are: (1) rooted in the history of the community; and, (2) are important to maintaining the continuity of that community’s traditional beliefs and practices. National Register Bulletin 38 (TCPs), can be used to define a property as a location associated with the traditional beliefs of a Native American group about its origins, its cultural history, or the natural world. Although not exclusively used in the Native American community, TCPs have been used to protect the beliefs, customs, and practices of California Indian Communities.