Historic Preservation in the
Freely Associated States of Micronesia
Since 1974 the HPF
has been the primary source of funds for government
sponsored preservation work in Micronesia. It provides critical
support for a variety of projects ranging from the development
of national resource inventories and preservation legislation,
to village based restorations of traditional sites and the
audio-visual documentation of traditional practices.
The Freely Associated States also contribute
limited funding for preservation, and local communities provide
much in the way of labor and resources in kind. The importance
of traditional heritage and identity is reflected in the constitutions
of both the FSM and Palau, while the Marshall Islands have
perhaps the most elaborate preservation legislation of the
From 1974 to 1985 the
annual HPF grants administered by the U.S. National Park Service
(NPS) were given to the Territorial Historic Preservation
Office which conducted archeological and historical projects
throughout the TTPI. Much of that work was documented by the
Micronesian Archaeological Survey report series (MAS) published
by the former TTPI Historic Preservation Office and now published
by the Historic Preservation Division of the Commonwealth
of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The TTPI Historic Preservation Office and the
National Park Service nominated 33 sites to the U.S. National
Register of Historic Places, five of which were listed as
U.S. National Historic Landmarks. Most of these properties,
like the German era Debrum House on Likiep Atoll in the Marshall
Islands and the Japanese Artillery Road on Pohnpei in the
FSM, represent colonical history. There are notable exceptions
though, for example the megalithic residential complex of
Leluh on Kosrae and the carved stone monoliths of Melekeok
From 1986 to the present NPS has awarded individual
HPF grants to each of the Freely Associated States and has
helped to develp their Historic Preservation Offices. With
one time additional funds from Congress, NPS and the Micronesian
Endowment for Historic Preservation cooperated to carry out
the Micronesian Resources Study (MRS). The MRS was designed
to inventory archaeological and ethnographic resources and
to provide training and material support to the new historic
preservation offices. The 11 volume MRS report series published
by NPS documented these projects.
NPS also monitors
grant activities and provides limited training in archeology,
ethnography, and grant administration. It ensures that at
least one historic preservation staff member of each nation,
typically an archaeologist, meets the U.S. Secretary of the
Interior's professional qualification standards. Palau currently
has one cultural anthropologist as well as an archaeologist.
Under the general supervision of their HPOs, paraprofessional
staff work closely with their archeolgist or cultural anthropologist.
In the FSM the paraprofessional staff work independently most
of the time since the archeologist must rotate among each
of the four States of Kosrae, Pohnpei, Chuuk (Truk), and Yap.
In addition to the FSM National Historic Preservation Officer,
each of the four FSM States has its own State HPO. National
and State HPOs also cooperate with and monitor outside researchers.