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ACHP Adopts Plan to Support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) formally endorsed a plan to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at its winter business meeting on March 1, 2013.

I believe this is an opportunity to promote better stewardship and protection of Native American historic properties and sacred sites and in doing so helps to ensure the survival of indigenous cultures. The Declaration reinforces the ACHP’s policies and goals as contained in our Native American initiatives including the Traditional Cultural Landscapes Action Plan and our participation in the interagency memorandum of understanding on the protection of sacred sites as well as in our oversight of the Section 106 review process.

The plan calls for the ACHP to raise awareness about the Declaration within the preservation community; post information about the Declaration on its Web site; develop guidance on the intersection of the Declaration with the Section 106 process; reach out to the archaeological community about the Declaration and the conduct of archaeology in the United States; and generally integrate the Declaration into its initiatives.

The ACHP oversees the Section 106 review process which requires federal agencies to take into account the impacts of their actions on historic properties. In carrying out the Section 106 process, federal agencies are required to consult with Indian tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian organizations when historic properties of religious and cultural significance to them may be affected. The ACHP has an Office of Native American Affairs that provides assistance to federal agencies, Indian tribes, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiian organizations and others. The ACHP, among many other efforts, has also published extensive guidance regarding tribal and Native Hawaiian consultation. See the ACHP's Declaration Plan.

Milford Wayne Donaldson is the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation