Secretary of Natural Resources Office

Tribal Historic Preservation

As a Federally Recognized Tribe, we have a designated Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) to preserve our cultural heritage and protect our sacred places.  Utilizing a knowledge base of Cherokee language, values and traditions, the THPO consults with state, and federal agencies to ensure our cultural resources are not negatively impacted by projects. In addition, the THPO promotes inclusion of tribal sites on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as an invaluable repository for cultural resource reports, archaeological records, and historic building archives. 

The THPO acts as an extension of our sovereignty and is heavily involved in planning and compliance with federal agencies to ensure their undertakings comply with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and other applicable laws. Examples of federal agencies include the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Department of Agriculture, the Army Corps of Engineers, the National Park Service, the Department of Housing and the Department of Transportation.  Cherokee Nation’s THPO reviews project proposals and engages in government-to-government consultation on projects like highway paving, community water sourcing and site development for schools, homes and economic endeavors.

Implementing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) is yet another vital responsibility of our THPO.  The act addresses the lineage rights of Indian tribes and Native American cultural items. These include human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and articles of tribal inheritance. The Cherokee Nation THPO oversees repatriation activities from museum and agency collections and when there are incidental discoveries of culturally significant items on Federal and Indian lands.  In this role, the THPO works with other officials to return Cherokee ancestors and objects to our homelands for traditional burials.