Today, Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Committee, led several other Committee members in letters supporting Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). These letters come in the wake of powerful testimony on behalf of THPOs from Pala Band of Mission Indians THPO & Environmental Director and NATHPO Chair Dr. Shasta Gaughen and Reno Keoni Franklin, Chair of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians and former NATHPO Chair.
To Secretary Haaland, the Members called for increased funding for THPOs, noting that the current amount of $100,000 per THPO was insufficient to keep pace with the number of Section 106 reviews and other responsibilities they undertake. You can read their letter to Secretary Haaland here.
To GAO, the Members asked for a review of the implementation of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and of the challenges facing THPOs and their State Historic Preservation Officer counterparts. You can read their letter to GAO here.
“Tribal Historic Preservation Officers are on the front lines of protecting sacred sites and preserving cultural heritage for Tribal Nations across America,” said NATHPO Executive Director Valerie Grussing. “The vast majority of THPOs lack sufficient resources to keep pace with the massive influx of review requests, which causes unnecessary delays for energy and infrastructure projects and can lead to the loss of precious and non-renewable cultural resources for Tribes. We are grateful to Ranking Member Grijalva and the other members of the Natural Resources Committee for continuing to raise awareness of these challenges and hope it will lead to increased support for THPOs and the sacred work they perform every day.”