Traditionally Associated Peoples and Ethnographic Resources


On February 25, 2003, the Archeology and Ethnography Program convened a 3-day workshop. The purpose of this workshop was to "develop and disseminate a greater comprehension of diverse concerns characterizing the ways NPS staff and contractors understand ethnographic resources and the peoples traditionally associated with them, and highlight the progress towards increasing mutual goals and support by:

The participants in this workshop included the following NPS contractors, ethnographers, managers, planners, and peoples traditionally associated with park resources. Also listed are the formal presentations they made at the workshop.

February 25, 2003

February 26, 2003

February 27, 2003

Breakout sessions held February 27 and 28 were intended to discuss:

In each session, participants were expected to answer the following questions:

This report will summarize the contributions that both the presentations and the breakout sessions made to the objectives stated above. In general, the presentations and breakout discussions summarized the progress made by NPS ethnographic research since the beginning of the NPS Ethnography Program, and raised provocative questions. However, they did not identify specifically the solutions to problems raised. This report will summarize the questions raised, cite the presentations where appropriate, and draw from available information to make proposals for further discussion.

Retrospective of the first decade of the NPS ethnography program

The program got its start in 1981 when Muriel "Miki" Crespi was enlisted to implement an Indian program. She soon established that:

There were no laws specifically mandating that the process or results of ethnography be integrated into the NPS resource planning process. In order to integrate itself into this process, the program developed the concept of "ethnographic resource" and "traditionally associated peoples." These terms are mutually referencing, and are the crucial defining variables for the ethnographic program.

As stated in Chapter 5 of the NPS Resource Management Policy "[f]or purposes of these Management Policies, social/ cultural entities such as tribes, communities, and kinship units are 'traditionally associated' with a particular park when:

The entity regards the park's resources as essential to its development and continued identity as a culturally distinct people; and the association has endured for at least two generations (40 years); and the association began prior to the establishment of the park.

According to the policy, then, ethnographic resources are "the cultural and natural features of a park that are of traditional significance to traditionally associated peoples." NPS defines four categories of these resources.

Although mandated and defined in NPS resource management policy the Ethnography Program differed from other cultural resource programs because it has no legal mandate for its existence. There is no Congressionally-mandated directive to apply ethnography in any cultural resource management program. Ethnography's legislative backing is thus indirect—through laws that require consultation with Indians and other peoples directly affected by the measures NPS undertakes. These include:

NPS ethnography's principal focus has been to research and inventory traditionally associated peoples and the ethnographic resources important to them. The research is conducted primarily through

The inventory is conducted primarily through the Ethnographic Resources Inventory, or ERI. The ERI is an electronic data management system that

will aid in meeting legislative, regulatory, and policy requirements for identifying ethnographic resources and associated groups; in forecasting consultation needs and budgets; in notifying interested groups about anticipated planning activities; in developing appropriate public involvement strategies; and in identifying resources that require monitoring" [NPS CRM Guidance, Release No. 5, 1997, 10:169].

The ERI has been incorporated into the NPS Strategic Plan and Performance Plan to evaluate and report on how NPS cares for ethnographic resources through the Government Performance Results Act of 1993 (GPRA).

Questions of how the ERI fits into the strategic plans and Ethnography Program operation will be discussed further in this paper.

Identifying and profiling TAPs and ethnographic resources for general management planning and management purposes

NPS Managers outlined four major questions to that arise while engaged in resource planning with peoples not normally considered part of the public. Sarah Craighead pinpointed the primary problem: employees sometimes transfer on a frequent basis. When they show up at a strange park, they need a quick orientation to the kinds of natural and cultural resources are they dealing with, and the initiatives are they undertaking. Alexa Roberts added that these managers needed information on

Traditionally associated peoples are kinds of stakeholders. Stakeholders are defined, here, as people having an interest in NPS resources.

Identifying traditionally associated peoples

Other presenters mentioned various conceptual problems such as how to define traditionally associated peoples. In agreement with Dr. Crespi, they reiterated that traditionally associated peoples include more than Indians or other groups with clear ethnic boundaries. They maintained that some of these peoples can be defined by occupation or lifestyle, such as Cape Cod sport fishermen. White also mentioned gangs, nudists, pagans, and ORV users who had become serious stakeholders at Indiana Dunes NP. Similar examples included the Mormon orchard farmers at Capitol Reef, mountain climbing associations who clashed with the Sioux and Cheyenne over access to Devils Tower. In these examples, NPS management tended to exclude the so-called human factor from their resource management, and troublesome political repercussions were the unnecessary result.

Other speakers, such as Benita Howell, brought up methodological implications in defining traditionally associated peoples. In her studies, rural peoples were not easily distinguishable by ethnicity. Research required a shift in emphasis to a study of peoples' sense of place, rather than on cultural or ethnic distinctions. For example:

Determining connection with the parks

Sherri Lawson Clark added that in rapid assessments of urban environments, the existence of groups themselves is difficult to establish, and must be established as the ethnographer proceeds through the sampling of individuals with whom to interview. In other words, the ethnographer establishes the existence of a group through a documented network sample. The existence of a bounded social group is not obvious because many of the people with whom she was working, in Anacostia NP, may have died or moved away.

She also noted that the sample may include individuals who are members of a broad range of resource user groups, including those who have traditionally used the resources even for recreation purposes.

The conceptual difficulties of defining these peoples have implications for long-term relationships because initial problems with NPS sometimes make these people cautious to communicate and establish long-term relationships.

Long-term relationships and systematic involvement

All the speakers stressed that NPS had to assume a more aggressive, proactive form of consultation so that these people could be heard. Howell in particular emphasized this need in context of the fact that the Appalachian peoples with whom she worked had been ignored through more conventional methodologies used in social and standard NEPA-mandated environmental impact assessment methods. Howell and others stressed that consultation establishes the means for collaboration and thus remains the key element of the ethnography program

Role of ethnographer as mediator and maybe part of the negotiation

The implications for the ethnographers were stark and should be considered seriously by all sectors of the NPS Ethnography Program.

Ferguson and Anscheutz shared with the participants their perspectives on ethnographers as being real mediators. They stated the position that it was no longer possible for an ethnographer simply to relay findings to management, particularly through reports and other "gray literature."

They pointed out that the role of mediator is easier with groups having some kind of sovereignty than with rural or urban groups having no such standing. Loendorf added that negotiations would involve having to assume a possibly adversarial role viz. the traditionally associated group. For example, it was possible that the traditional religious use of an ethnographic resource such as the Big Horn Medicine Wheel, the addition by Indians of so-called rock art at Petroglyphs NP, or the Hopi trapping of eagles at Wupatki may be either defacement or result in the irreparable loss of the resource.

Participants stressed that ethnographers must target working with park resource management and other decision makers to develop criteria for reasonable requests, as well as guidance for good-faith negotiations between management and traditionally associated peoples. All sides thus would have to consider questions such as:

They acknowledged that most of these rules could not be widely generalized across National Parks. Each issue will have to be defined, studied, and negotiated individually. Also, ethnographers need to take active part in the negotiation of solutions. To take such part, they need to have data that address these questions. At present, however, both the ethnographers and the contractors agreed that NPS ethnographers tend to have closer relationships with the contractors than with the superintendents where the research is conducted. This situation must change.

Adding newly identified ethnographic resources to the Ethnographic Resource Inventory

In general, contractors were only beginning to be aware of the Ethnographic Resource Inventory and its potential applications. Schoepfle and Evans stressed that it is important primarily as a pointer to existing studies and research that may be important to NPS planning and decision making. It is not a substitute for consultation or research. Thus understanding its applicability and importance should proceed apace with the kinds of reports ethnographers must write, and how they use these reports. Evans summarized that the information in reports must be:

The ERI would have to point quickly to resources, link them to available documentation, and highlight data gaps as well as available research information.

In general, there were three major problems with the ERI. First, managers are not familiar with DO-28, the NPS order requiring ethnography to be applied in resource planning. The reason is that DO-28 is centered only on policy. Ethnographers observed that nobody gets sued from outside NPS if policy is not followed. To managers, ERI conveys anxiety because of issues regarding potential sensitivity of information. Information such as place names are kept vague or withheld from the database.

Second, the ERI seems to accentuate questions that both NPS ethnographers and contractors had working with traditionally associated peoples.

Third, both ethnographers and contractors continued to voice discomfort at the fact that the ERI forces the researcher to focus on the resource itself, and then tie in the relevant cultural context of a TAP. For example, they pointed out that:

Toupal and others maintained that of the four major kinds of ethnographic resources, some of these are easier to describe than others in the ERI. For example, the ERI is more difficult to fill out for a landscape or place than for an object or natural resource.

As the inventory is introduced to more parks, their resource planners and decision makers increasingly ask questions central to ethnography's mission:

In sum, many of the problems associated with the Ethnographic Resource Inventory appear to reflect conceptual problems that NPS ethnographers and contractors are experiencing as part of applying the art and craft of ethnography. The requirements to use a database seem to highlight questions which may otherwise be glossed over when writing conventional narratives typical of most ethnographic field work conducted at NPS


The meeting did not succeed in

It did succeed, however, in directing the Ethnography Program toward the goal of better integrating ethnography methods and findings into NPS decision making at all levels. It has focused NPS ethnographers toward the need to better integrate their role into resource planning and decision making, beginning at the parks. Ethnographers need to: