NPCA submitted the following positions to members of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands ahead of a hearing scheduled for September 14, 2022.
H.R. 8108 – Advancing Tribal Parity on Public Land Act: NPCA supports this legislation which would provide Tribal governments with rights equivalent to states and local governments in relation to specific aspects of the management, disposal and sale of federal public lands. For too long, these sovereign governments have not had a seat at the table for conversations surrounding the fate of sacred and culturally significant sites that are managed as part of the federal estate. By inserting Tribes into many of the primary land management laws, federal agencies will be required to include Tribal perspectives in specific decision-making processes. The bill also ensures that sacred sites are identified prior to final land disposal decisions and guarantees Tribes right of first refusal should any significant sites come up for sale, thereby increasing the chances that these sites won’t be lost to development or other incompatible uses. NPCA encourages Congress to pair this bill with an appropriate increase in appropriations to ensure federal land managers are adequately resourced to fully apply the consultation requirements in this bill.
H.R. 8109 – Tribal Cultural Areas Protection Act: NPCA supports this legislation which would establish a Tribal Cultural Areas System. Tribal cultural areas and sacred sites located on public lands often have no additional protections to ensure their preservation for generations to come. Establishing a national Tribal Cultural Areas System would allow these significant lands to be managed to preserve the cultural sites that are found across the United States. Crucially, this legislation also empowers Tribal governments to engage in cooperative management with land management agencies, helping to ensure that traditional knowledge, used by Tribes since time immemorial, is incorporated into the protection of these sacred sites. Under this legislation, Tribal governments can propose lands to be included in the Tribal Areas Cultural System and land management agencies will also have to identify any sites within their agencies that have specific tribal value. NPCA acknowledges that the history of land protection in the United States is a painful history, especially for tribes. While this legislation will not right the wrongs of the past, it is a crucial first step to ensuring that Tribes can further protect their cultural resources and enhance public lands for the future.
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Legislative Director, Government Affairs