1. What is a Tribal Historic Preservation Office/Officer (THPO)?
In 1992 the U.S. Congress amended the National Historic Preservation Act (now 54 USC 300101 et seq.) to allow federally recognized tribes to take on responsibility for the preservation of historic properties on tribal lands. The law provides a mechanism for tribes to assume any or all of the functions otherwise performed by a State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) on reservation and tribal trust lands.

The decision to apply to enter into a formal agreement with the NPS to take on formal historic preservation responsibilities rests with tribal leadership. Typically, THPOs oversee the survey and inventory of historical resources on tribal lands, ensure historic properties are taken into account at all levels of planning and development, offer historic preservation training and outreach, and consult with Federal agencies taking into account the effects of their undertakings on historic properties in accordance with 54 USC 306108 (commonly known as Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act).

2. How can I find a THPO?
The National Park Service maintains a list of tribes that have entered into a THPO agreement with the NPS that includes contact information for the THPO. Find a THPO here!

3. How can a Tribe Establish a THPO Partnership Agreement with the NPS?
Elibility for the THPO program is limited to federally recognized tribes that have a reservation and/or tribal trust lands. An interested tribe submits a request by tribal resolution to assume certain Historic Preservation Officer responsibilities on tribal lands and provides a THPO program plan describing how those Historic Preservation Officer duties will be performed. Once approved, the THPO takes control of those duties on tribal lands from the corresponding state(s). Once the THPO program plan is complete, a partnership agreement between the Tribe and the Secretary of the Interior is executed through the NPS. The THPO then becomes becomes eligible to apply for annually recurring operational support from Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) grants. Although applications are accepted year round, a signed agreement must be in place by July 31st to be eligible for funding the following fiscal year.

Technical asistance is available from the Tribal Historic Preservation Program to help complete an application and to assist in the administration of the program once the THPO agreement has been signed. A THPO Program application, including a cover sheet, formatting guidelines, and explanatory notes, as well as THPO application training videos are available on the application site.

Last updated: August 8, 2019