Traditional Cultural Properties or Places, Consultation, and the Restoration of Native American Relationships with Aboriginal Lands in the Western United States

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Human Organization

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Our research assesses the efficacy of the National Historic Preservation Act's (NHPA) Traditional Cultural Property or Place (TCP) construct in facilitating Native American engagement with aboriginal lands now federally governed. We analyze how federal agencies can implement effective consultation to lessen inherent power imbalances in the legal framework. From July through December 2014, we conducted eleven semi-structured interviews with participants involved with five TCPs in the United States Pacific Northwest and Great Basin and fourteen individuals involved with other TCPs. We identified three themes in the results: (1) ensuring government employees have the proper skill sets, particularly with communication and cultural competency; (2) incorporating the ways tribes understand the landscape into consultation and management practices; and (3) proactively building relationships outside the compliance context. We argue a more collaborative approach to the historical designation and management of TCPs, which counteracts inequalities in the legal framework, will facilitate better relationships, fewer conflicts, and mutually agreed upon land management decisions for both tribes and agencies. These lessons learned have implications for political ecology discourse on how sociopolitical actors influence land management decisions in contexts of power.


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