The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, which promotes the sustaining of the country’s historic resources and advises the president and Congress on preservation policy, formally endorsed a plan to support the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at its winter meeting on March 1.
“This is an opportunity to promote better stewardship and protection of Native historic properties and sacred places, and in doing so helps to ensure survival of indigenous cultures,” said Milford Wayne Donaldson, council chairman, in a press release. “The Declaration reinforces the agency’s principles and goals contained in our Native American Traditional Cultural Landscapes Action Plan and other works with Native Hawaiian organizations and tribes.”
The move to endorse the plan was introduced by John L. Berry, chairman of the Quapaw Tribe and sole Native member of the 23-member council. The motion was then unanimously approved.
The plan outlines how the council will raise awareness about the Declaration in the preservation community. The council will make information about the Declaration available on its website and plans to develop guidance on how the Declaration intersects with the Section 106 review process, which provides tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations an opportunity to influence federal decision making when culturally significant properties are threatened by federal actions.
When the Declaration was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on September 13, 2007, the United States was one of four nations opposed, but on December 6, 2010, President Barack Obama announced support for it.
“The aspirations it affirms, including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples, are ones we must always seek to fulfill,” Obama said at the time of the signing. “I want to be clear: What matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words.”
The council believes it is the first federal agency to adopt a plan in support of the Declaration.