The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), which established the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation in 1966, requires federal agencies to act as responsible stewards of our nation’s resources when their actions affect historic properties. Section 106 of the NHPA sets forth a process for federal agencies to identify and assess the effects of their actions on historic resources. The responsible agency must consult with appropriate state and local officials, applicants for federal assistance, members of the public, and Indian tribes and consider their views and concerns about historic preservation issues when making final project decisions.
A key to successful Section 106 consultation is inviting interested parties to the table as early as possible in the process. However, sometimes sound research is needed to determine which Indian tribes have an interest in the project area. There are multiple sources for such information, such as the Native American Consultation database (NACD), maintained by the National Park Service. Also, the Library of Congress Indian Land Cessions website has information on historic Indian land areas. In addition, State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) might have data on which Indian tribes are ancestral to their states, and federal agencies could share information among themselves that they have ascertained through their own consultations.
A new source of information to aid in the process is the Tribal Directory Assistance Tool (TDAT), developed and administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Environment and Energy (HUD). This web-based tribal contact database contains information about the geographic areas of current and ancestral interest to federally-recognized Indian tribes.
“TDAT is a free, easy-to-use system to find Indian tribes that should be invited to coordinate or consult on projects,” said ACHP Chairman Milford Wayne Donaldson. “We know that Section 106 consultations are most successful when interested parties are involved at the very beginning of the process and TDAT is one more tool to help ensure Indian tribes have a voice early in a project’s development that might impact their sacred sites.”
“HUD’s Tribal Directory Assessment Tool (TDAT) identifies tribal contacts who may be interested in proposed federally-assisted projects in their ancestral homelands,” said Danielle Schopp, Director, Office of Environment and Energy, HUD. “It’s an important tool to foster early and respectful consultation with Tribes about projects that may affect their cultural resources.”
TDAT lists tribes’ areas of interest by county and offers names and contact information for tribal leaders and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) as well as links to tribal websites. Users can query the street address, county, state, and tribe and can send emails directly to tribal contacts from the system. Information generated from TDAT can be exported in spreadsheet format for use in other programs.
Federal agencies should not rely solely on TDAT to identify Indian tribes that should be invited to consult in the Section 106 process and also should consider other sources of information regarding areas of tribal interest.
To access TDAT, go to https://egis.hud.gov/tdat/.
To learn more about the ACHP and Section 106, visit www.achp.gov.