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Home arrowNews arrowAgreement Signed on the Treatment of Federal Historic Properties along the Upper Missouri River
Agreement Signed on the Treatment of Federal Historic Properties along the Upper Missouri River

Remarks by ACHP Chairman John L. Nau, III, at the Missouri River Programmatic Agreement Signing Ceremony, April 13, 2004, Pierre, South Dakota

I am deeply honored and gratified to join so many distinguished guests for the signing of the historic Missouri River Programmatic Agreement.

John Nau shakes hands with an honor guard escort while Colonel Kurt Ubbelohde and Chairman Mike Jandreau look on.ACHP Chairman John L. Nau, III (left), shakes hands with a member of the honor guard escorting Colonel Kurt Ubbelohde (in black cap), commander of the Omaha District, U.S. Corps of Engineers, and Mike Jandreau (wearing eagle feathers), Chairman of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. The ceremony was part of events surrounding the signing of the Programmatic Agreement. More than 14 tribes were involved in the consultations and subsequent signing of the agreement, along with representatives of the States of Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana.


It is great to see so many familiar faces—for it is you who have made today possible and for that I am deeply grateful.

I would like to thank the tribal elders and spiritual leaders for sharing their wisdom with us, and acknowledge the vital contributions of tribal chairmen, council members, and preservation experts of the many sovereign nations of the Missouri River basin. If it were not for your leadership and dedication to this cause, we would not be here today.

I would also like to acknowledge a few others who have been very involved in this process.

From Army Corps Headquarters, Edward Hecker; General William Grisoli; Colonel Kurt Ubbelohd; South Dakota State Historic Preservation Officer Jay Vogt; National Trust for Historic Preservation Regional Director Barb Pahl; and Margie Nowick of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation who did so much to make this happen.

Our location—upon the banks of the Missouri River—not only is the right place for us to come together, it is a significant way to recognize the importance of our actions today.

This river is central to our many nations and peoples, and to the diverse histories that converge here today. What an honor for us to be joined by the descendents of the many who lived and traversed this land before the nations of Europe even realized this hemisphere existed.

The significance of this river became very clear to me during the public hearing held by the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation at this very place nearly two years ago.

The hearing was held at the request of tribal people, especially the Lower Brule, Yankton, and the Three Affiliated Tribes. At the hearing, we heard passionate words about the importance and survival of the historic and cultural places of the Missouri River, and about the things that threaten them.

You spoke of the crucial connections of the river and its historic and cultural places to your personal and tribal identities. To your religious and spiritual well-being. To your survival as distinctive peoples and cultures.

Archaeologists spoke of the importance of the Missouri River's archeological legacy to our nation, and its essential contribution to the broader study of our past and the greater story of humanity.

And, for the Army Corps of Engineers, General Fastabend spoke of the frustrations and challenges of his agency in managing these important places with insufficient support and competing interests. Despite these considerable obstacles, General Fastabend promised a renewed commitment for his agency to do better.

This, of course, brings us to the Programmatic Agreement that we are here to sign today.

I am very proud of the role that my agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and its responsibilities under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, played. We worked to help bring everyone together on these issues.

It is a significant achievement involving many parties, including:

  • differing agencies of the federal government;
  • many sovereign Indian nations from Montana to Kansas;
  • four state governments; and
  • private, non-profit organizations; and others.

It is remarkable and commendable that they could come together and produce a unified vision for the future.

The collaboration among the parties in developing this agreement should instruct and inspire other agencies and other projects.

From the various voices, from the differing perspectives and experiences, from the disparate concerns of these parties, a new framework was created. It will guide future collaboration for the benefit of the Missouri River's historic and cultural places.

Much of the process has been impressive in the level of commitment and dedication of the representatives that met tirelessly for nearly two years to complete this endeavor.

We owe special thanks to the Three Affiliated Tribes and the Lower Brule Tribe for not only generously sponsoring the meetings—graciously providing lodging and food for participants—but for being the first to bring their concerns about the Missouri River to our attention.

This high level of commitment and mutual respect will be crucial for the future. For let us not be mistaken: even as we celebrate, our work continues. As we have heard, this is not the end, but the continuation of the process of learning and of preservation.

The future brings many challenges. Implementing this Programmatic Agreement will be no easier than developing it. We must remember that we have developed this common vision as a team.

Our path is clear: together we must do all that we can reasonably do for the future of historic and cultural places—of the Missouri River—and the nation.

At the ACHP, we are striving to improve the federal government's consultative efforts with Native Americans. Most immediately, next month we will hold the formative meeting of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's Native American Advisory Group. In addition to consultation issues, I will be asking this group to assist us in bringing our newest program, the Preserve America initiative, to tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations.

With my signature, I pledge my commitment and that of my agency, the ACHP, to the Missouri River, and the future of its historic and cultural places.

Thank you.

An independent Federal agency, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) promotes historic preservation nationally by providing a forum for influencing Federal activities, programs, and policies that affect historic properties, advising the President and Congress, advocating preservation policy, improving Federal preservation programs, protecting historic properties, and educating stakeholders and the public. For more information, visit the ACHP's Web site at, or contact Bruce Milhans at 202-606-8513 or

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Posted May 11, 2004

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