National Park Service Working with American Indians, Alaska Natives And Native Hawaiians
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    Working with Native Americans

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

National Heritage Areas

Duckwater Shoshone Festival
Duckwater Shoshone Festival, courtesy of Kristi Filman, Great Basin National Heritage Area, courtesy of National Heritage Areas.

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape.  Through their unique resources, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate  the nation’s diverse heritage.  NHAs are not national park units, rather, the National Park Service (NPS) partners with, provides technical assistance, and distributes federal funds from Congress to NHA entities which must be matched by nonfederal funds. NPS does not assume ownership of land inside heritage areas or impose land use controls.  NPS does not provide grants but rather distributes authorized Federal funds from Congress to designated National Heritage Areas.  Individual NHAs determine how to spend their Federal and non-federal funds based on their individual enabling legislation and management plans.

NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development.  Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects.  NHAs are lived-in landscapes.  Consequently, NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests, resources, and needs.  Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.  Click here for a map of the 49 Congressionally designated  national heritage areas.

Tribal NHA Projects
Some National Heritage Areas support the cultural preservation of tribes by addressing the interrelated issues of cultural preservation and socioeconomic development through activities that encourage community engagement.   Those individual NHAs that partner with or provide grants to support tribal initiatives in their areas support their individual resources based on management plans.  The following are examples of recent activities that involve and benefit tribes in specific NHAs:  

    • Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, AZ - In coordination with the Quechan Indian Tribe, the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Areas Corporation has restored approximately 2,000 acres of wetlands along the Colorado River, including lands within the Quechan Reservation.  The Colorado River was and is a significance part of the tribal landscape.  The tribe has committed significant resources, including funding, to work in partnership with the Corporation’s river restoration efforts.
    • Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, NC - The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership supports the survival of Cherokee music, basket making, storytelling, crafts, and language through grants and an on-line directory.  Their on-line directory connects visitors with Eastern Band of Cherokee sites, history, and culture and provides a venue for the Eastern Band of Cherokee to share their traditions. 
    • Champlain Valley National Heritage Area, NY and VT - The Champlain Valley Partnership supports a number of tribal projects through grants and partnerships.  Recent grant projects include the Vermont Indigenous Ethnobotany Project and the Indigenous Expressions: Contemporary Native Peoples of the ECHO Lake Champlain Basin Audio Project (Ecology, Culture, History and Opportunity for stewardship of the Lake Champlain Basin).  The Indigenous Expressions project supported the development of documentation and interpretation projects for Native American communities in both Vermont and New York.  A grant from the Partnership supports ECHO and the Native American community to collect, share, and archive interviews, traditional cultural and natural sounds, and music, to produce a myriad of audio from Native soundscapes to first-person stories. 
    • Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area, NM - The Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area was created in part to assist tribal governments in establishing natural and cultural resource conservation programs.  To fulfill this requirement, the Northern Rio Grande National Heritage Area coordinating entity has recently finalized a small-grant program and began soliciting grant proposals from tribes in the heritage area.
    • Great Basin National Heritage Area, UT and NV - The Great Basin National Heritage Area coordinating entity recently completed their draft management plan.  Through the planning process they developed partnership agreements with the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe to collaborate on key conservation projects.  It is anticipated that they will work together on the creation of a museum of culture on the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation. 
    • Niagara Falls National Heritage Area, NY - The Federal Commission that is the current coordinating entity for the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area includes one member  of the Tuscarora Nation and one member of the Seneca Nation of Indians.  The Federal Commission recently developed a management plan with priorities for the area and commitments of partners to implement the heritage area’s goals. The planning process was highly collaborative including regular consultation with federal agencies and federally recognized tribes.

For more information about National Heritage Areas, see the website.