Native Village 
Youth and Education News

April 1, 2013

Federal Agencies Announce Action Plan to Guide Protection of Indian Sacred Sites
Condensed by Native Village

Washington, D.C.:  President Obama has expressed his commitment to a nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.  Part of his plan includes stronger protections for Indian sacred sites and enabling tribes more access to them. The plan is required by the Memorandum of Understanding signed in December 2012.

The MOU will be in effect for five years. The MOU commits the signatory agencies [below] to work more closely together to improve the protection of and tribal access to Indian sacred sites.

"The federal family has a special, shared responsibility to respect and foster American Indian and Alaska Native cultural and religious heritage, and this action plan will guide us in that important role.  We have dedicated considerable staff and resources to address this important issue and will continue to work with the tribes and their spiritual and religious leaders to carry-out the action plan." 
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

"The Obama administration has taken a number of steps to ensure that American Indians and Alaska Natives have full access to the programs and services offered across the federal government.  Since 2009, USDA has stepped up Tribal consultation efforts. We understand the importance of these sites and will continue to make sure Tribes have full access to the resources they need in their communities."
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack

"Protecting America's air and water and our nation's heritage is an important part of the Energy Department's commitment to Tribal Nations across the country, particularly those that are neighbors to the Department's National Laboratories, sites and facilities. I look forward to continuing this important work and collaborating with other federal agencies and Tribal Nations to protect Indian sacred sites throughout the United States."
Energy Secretary Steven Chu

"Through collaboration and consultation, the signatory agencies are working together to raise awareness about Indian sacred sites and the importance of maintaining their integrity.  The tools to be developed under this action plan will help agencies meet their Section 106 responsibilities while affording greater protections for sacred sites. The Advisory Council is very pleased to be part of this historic initiative to address the protection and preservation of Indian sacred sites."
 Milford Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.


Read the Report
Action Plan to Implement the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Interagency Coordination and Collaboration for the Protection of Indian Sacred Sites

Among other things, the MOU commits the agencies to work together on
Developing guidance on the management and treatment of sacred sites,
Identifying and recommending ways to overcome impediments to the protection of such sites while preserving the sites' confidentiality,
Creating a training program for federal staff
Developing outreach plans to both the public and to non-Federal partners.

The Action Plan includes:

A Mission Statement that commits the agencies to work together to improve the protection of, and tribal access to, Indian sacred sites through better coordination, collaboration and consultation with tribes;
A list of actions the agencies will undertake together;
Consultations with Indian tribes to development and implement actions ensuring meaningful strategies for protecting sacred sites;
Establishing a working committee of senior staff from the participating agencies, as well as other experts from the participating agencies as needed, to carry out the stipulations;
Designating senior level officials to serve as members of a Core Working Group chaired by the DOI. 
Provide a report on the Department's Tribal Listening Sessions on Sacred Sites. Last year, the DOI held several Tribal Listening Sessions to elicit tribal and spiritual leaders concerns regarding sacred sites.

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