• Native Americans with cermeonial masks

    Working with Native Americans

    Cultural Resources National Park Service

American Indian Liaison Office

Cherokee tribal artist Shirley Jackson Oswalt at the annual Tribal Cultural Fair, Fading Voices, in the Snowbird Community of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Cherokee tribal artist Shirley Jackson Oswalt at the annual Tribal Cultural Fair, Fading Voices, in the Snowbird Community of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, courtesy of the Tribal Preservation Program

The American Indian Liaison Office (AILO) provides guidance to National Park Service (NPS) field and program managers to enable them to interact with American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives on a government-to-government basis. The office provides guidance concerning Indian self-determination, tribal self-governance, environmental review, land restoration, free exercise of religion, sacred sites, and traditional cultural properties. AILO assists in reconciling programs, policies, and regulations, with traditional uses of NPS lands by American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians.

The AILO serves the National Park Service directorate, regional, and park staff with training, consulting, and guidance to resolve specific longstanding tribal concerns regarding park units, park lands, and park resources; and to collaboratively develop policy and guidance on many matters of mutual tribal-park interest.

The AILO serves tribal governments and tribal members with regard to natural resources, park policy, park units, park practice, land restoration, and the resolution of long standing issues with NPS.

In addition, the AILO collaborates with other Department of Interior bureaus to develop Department-wide and government-wide guidance on issues involving tribal governments. AILO also participates in international efforts to join with indigenous peoples to achieve common natural resource and cultural heritage preservation goals.

Examples of multi-year collaborative efforts involving the AILO include:

  • Finalization of the NPS Plant Gathering Regulation (36 CFR 2.6) in August 2016 which authorizes the NPS to enter into agreements with federally recognized tribes who wish to gather plants or plant parts from parks for traditional purposes.
  • Development of Secretarial Order 3342 to encourage cooperative management agreements and collaborative partnerships between Department of the Interior resource managers and tribes.
  • Support the implementation of the NATIVE Act (P.L. 114-221), which in part, enhances opportunities for collaboration between federal agencies and tribes in support of Native American heritage and cultural tourism.
  • Development of multi-year self-governance agreements between the Grand Portage Band of Indians and Grand Portage National Monument to provide park funding to the band for managing the maintenance of the monument along with additional projects.
  • Development of a new NPS Tribal Consultation curriculum for NPS employees.
  • Efforts to revise NPS regulations and create a process that could enable a Federally-recognized tribe to enter into an agreement with a park regarding the gathering of certain culturally important plants and minerals.
  • Production of Indian Law and Policy workshops which have trained over 800 participants since 1997.

Contact Us: Contact the American Indian Liaison Office at ailo_program(at)nps.gov.