Bambi Krauss considers her job a personal calling. As president of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, she helps over 170 tribes preserve their heritage or improve their quality of life with help from $11 million in federal grant money each year.
“These are really important contributions from the federal government to Indian tribes that have taken on the responsibility of preserving their tribal heritage,” she said before talking about some of the projects which aid native communities in keeping their traditions alive.
This week, the Department of Interior and the National Park Service awarded the 2018 historic preservation grants to states and tribes.
Since 1977, Congress has allocated money raised from oil and natural gas leasing contracts to fund to fund the grant program and preserve cultural heritage that might otherwise be lost.
The new allocations included grants to six Montana tribes and communities: $76,381 to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, $87,298 to the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, $78,663 to the Fort Peck Indian Community, $88,056 to the Crow Tribe, $83,554 to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and $84,697 to the Blackfeet Nation
The state of Montana did not receive a grant in the latest round of funding, but was recognized by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke for using past funds to develop a geodatabase of cultural sites.
The Montana Historical Society leveraged National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, state and private funding to overhaul its statewide geodatabase of cultural resources, which now holds over 59,000 historic and pre-contact sites and 37,000 survey and cultural resource studies.
The department did not list the specific projects planned by each tribe. However, it did highlight several past projects that are now completed and show the program’s potential.
Among those highlights were:
- Funding for the annual Cultural Hualapai River Monitoring Trip by the Hualapai Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Arizona supports education outreach programs. Each year, the trip engages youth and elders to monitor vegetation, archaeological sites and traditional cultural places, and discuss traditional ecological knowledge about the Grand Canyon.
- The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Wisconsin is working on a site-monitoring schedule and developing a management plan for 31 historic maple sugarbush sites where Ojibwe families moved each spring and camped for the production of maple syrup.
- Four partner Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, the Narragansett Tribe, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), the Mashantucket (Eastern) Pequot, and the Mohegan, collaboratively consulted with federal agencies on federal undertakings where ceremonial stone landscapes were in danger of impacts. The result was submission of a National Register of Historic Places draft nomination entitled “Indigenous American Ceremonial Stone Landscapes of the Northeast.”