• Native Americans with cermeonial masks

    Working with Native Americans

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science Directorate

Tlingit Spruce Root crest Hat
Tribal Canoe Journey 2009; Skokomish tribal participants paddled their hand carved canoe from Vancouver Island to Suquamish Island, courtesy of TribalJourneys.com

The National Park Service (NPS) Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1) of 1916, by which Congress created the National Park Service, mandates access to parks for the public enjoyment of cultural resources while ensuring their protection. Over the years the Federal government enhanced and supported this role through repeated affirmation that cultural resources are a matter of national interest.

Building on the 1906 Antiquities Act and the Historic Sites Act of 1935, this message was clearly spelled out in the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and its amendments, was reiterated in the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979, and was reinforced by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. Although each of these acts has its own focus and orientation, collectively they require a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to managing cultural resources.

Directorate Goals
Beyond the parks, NPS is part of a national preservation network of partners who are committed to the importance of the nation’s cultural heritage and its preservation.

The Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science directorate focuses its strategies in the following areas:
  • Preserve cultural resources in cooperation with Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages and corporations, Native Hawaiian organizations, states, territories, local governments, nonprofit organizations, property owners, individuals, and other partners
  • Provide leadership in research and use of advanced technologies to improve the preservation of the nation’s cultural heritage
  • Establish standards and guidance for managing cultural resources within the National Park System and communities nationwide
  • Enhance public understanding and appreciation for the nation’s cultural heritage

Central elements of the work of the Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science directorate can be described as follows:

  • Document the buildings, landscapes and other resources of significance to our national cultural heritage
  • Administer official recognition programs that affirm the significance of historic buildings, landscapes, and sites
  • Provide training and technical assistance on the identification, preservation, management, and protection of cultural resources
  • Provide financial assistance in the form of grants and tax credits to support cultural resource management projects and partnerships
  • Develop educational programs for teachers and students of all ages to increase their understanding of the nation’s cultural heritage
  • Educate the public on the value of protecting and preserving cultural resources

View the list of programs within the Cultural Resources, Partnerships and Science directorate

A Call to Action: Preparing for Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement
In preparation for NPS’s approaching 100th anniversary in 2016, NPS has issued A Call to Action: Preparing for a Second Century of Stewardship and Engagement to help chart a path for our second hundred years. Working through the parks and our partners, the NPS Cultural Resources Programs seek to provide leadership to a national historic preservation program, engage all Americans with the places and stories that make up the national identity, and serve as a model for the stewardship of historic resources throughout the world.  As part of “A Call to Action”, NPS will be working with partners in several areas, including the stewardship of cultural resources, technical guidance, science and scholarship, and the national preservation program.

As NPS looks to establish priorities and focus efforts on areas likely to have the most impact, NPS invites suggestions and comments on the specific major initiatives.   To read more about the how Cultural Resources Programs are responding to the Call to Action and to share your thoughts and perspectives go to Call to Action – NPS Cultural Resources Programs.