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Sacred Sites

Sacred Sites

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Sacred Sites

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  1. Sacred Sites

  2. Documentation • Documentation: Forest Supervisor or Ranger District Offices may document Sacred site (s) information in a variety of ways and it is important to determine with Tribes appropriate methods of information collection and should follow guidelines for confidentiality.

  3. Government-to-Government consultations • may be the context in which sacred sites notification and information sharing is shared. • These notes should be reviewed for accuracy of information by the Tribe

  4. Identification of a Sacred Site • Recognized Tribal Governments or their authoritative representation notifies the Forest Service of the existence of a sacred sites located on National Forest System Lands.

  5. Authoritative Representative • An appropriate authoritative representative (s) is identified by a Tribal Government with which the Forest Service should consult regarding sacred sites and related resources and values. This may be an individual or a group of individuals such as a cultural committee of Elders.

  6. Non-Federally recognized Tribes • Have no rights under EO 13007, and there is no requirement for Government-to-Government relations, however, such Tribes and groups should be treated with respect, in essentially the same way a Federally Recognized Tribe would be treated.

  7. Written communications • May include letters, and e-mails may be submitted to Forest Service officials indicating the existence of Sacred Sites on National Forest System Lands should be considered formal notification. • Additional face to face consultations should be scheduled.

  8. Phone conversations • Phone conversations and their written records to Forest Service officials indicating the existence of Sacred Sites on National Forest System Lands should be considered formal notification. Additional face to face consultations should be scheduled.

  9. Literature Review • Literature Review may identify cultural sites which are significant to Tribes and may be indicators of Sacredness, however, sacred site identification must come from Tribes. • Research Reports that include ethnographic research may include Tribal or Tribal member assertions identifying sacred sites which may be used as official documentation of sacred sites. Tribes or Tribal members should review such records for accuracy and describe what information should be kept confidential.

  10. Developing Sacred Sites databases • The goal should be to develop a database that can be shared by both parties to describe what is out there and what is happening to it!

  11. Developing Protection Plans • Develop protection protocols with Tribes, which include site monitoring that involves Tribal representatives.

  12. Monitoring techniques • Monitoring techniques will depend upon the sensitivity of the site, accessibility, public use, susceptibility to damage or infringement

  13. Confidentiality • When a sacred site is eligible for the NRHP, Section 304 of the NHPA can be invoked. Under this authority, confidentiality can be maintained if the release of such information could cause in invasion of privacy, risk harm to the site, or impede its use by Tribal members. In this instance, the Keeper of the National Register must be consulted.

  14. Confidentiality • However if the significance of the site involves an archeological element, and the release of information could lead to its damage or destruction, Section 9 of the Archeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) allows information to be kept confidential without consulting the Keeper.

  15. NEPA and NHPA • The Forest Service has a responsibility to determine environmental and social characteristics that may be affected by its actions including sacred sites and their environments and their uses. Sacred sites identified by a Tribe or by the Forest Service through consultation with Tribes and appropriately authoritative representatives must be considered during the planning process

  16. Tribal Review • Tribes and their authoritative representatives should be consulted during NEPA studies and the drafts of such studies should be made available for review and comment prior to public review. • To the extent consistent with the purpose and need for the project, the alternative selected should accommodate access and ceremonial use of any sacred site that may be affected

  17. Access and Use • Identify and considering Tribal concerns during the planning process and in compliance with NEPA, NHPA, EO 12898, NAGPRA and other authorities. • Sacred sites, access and ceremonial use should be considered part of the affected human environment in determining whether an action is significantly affecting the quality of the human environment

  18. Consideration of Interested Parties • The Tribal Government is the key decision maker but the Forest Service should not disregard the interests of concerned individuals who are not sanctioned by the Tribal Government. In some instances, consultation with other knowledgeable parties may be required to determine credentials and degree of authority

  19. Potential Impacts to Sacred Sites • Land transfer of property containing a sacred site to a non-Federal owner who may deny access and use, or who may destroy the site (s). • Construction activities which may directly impact a sacred site location or diminish the visual, auditory, atmospheric, or aquatic qualities of a site or its surroundings which are necessary for its use. It is important to determine with Tribes the appropriate guidelines for maintaining the sacredness of a location. • Activities or permitted uses that make access difficult or impossible.

  20. Potential Impacts to Sacred Sites • Activities or permitted uses that make access difficult or impossible. • Altering the natural environment in ways that adversely affect access, use such as the destruction of medicinal plants during an application of chemicals for invasive species or insect control

  21. Potential Impacts to Access • Potential impacts on access to or the use of sacred sites should be considered in determining whether a project can be categorically excluded for further NEPA review. Such impacts will often be considered an “extraordinary circumstance” (see Title 40 CFR Part 1508.4) and would make it inappropriate to treat the action as categorically excluded.

  22. Potential Impacts • Measures providing for access and use, and measures to avoid or reduce the severity of adverse effects, should be included as mitigation measures identified in the EIS and Record of Decision or in the EA and Finding of No Significant Impact.

  23. NHPA Review • During the NHPA Section 106 review, it should be determined based on literature and consultation whether there may be any sacred site qualities to historic properties within the action’s area of potential affects. Concerned Tribes should be consulted with during the identification of historic properties, the determinations of effect, and consultation to resolve adverse effects.

  24. National Register Eligibility • A site may be considered sacred and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NHPA) if the sacred character is more than 50 years old and meets the criteria established in Bulletin 38. Sites which are not 50 years old or which do not meet the criteria in Bulletin 38 maybe considered a sacred site under the criteria established by EO130097. (The sacredness of a site must be determined and communicated by a Tribal Government and/or an appropriate authoritative individual or group)

  25. Determinations of Eligibility and Effect • When sacred sites are eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places, access to and use of these sites; and avoiding and or reducing the severity of adverse effects to their physical integrity, should be included in Memoranda of Agreement and Programmatic Agreements executed under Section 106 and its implementing regulation (Title 36 CFR Part 800).

  26. NAGPRA • When human remains are involved, consultation with Tribes should be coordinated as required by 43 CFR 10, and the implementing NAGPRA regulations.