Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) Grants

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The National Park Service (NPS) Tribal Preservation Program assists Indian tribes in preserving their historic properties and cultural traditions through the designation of Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO) and through annual grant funding programs.

The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) provides annually appropriated funding to Tribes that have signed agreements with the NPS designating them as having an approved THPO to protect and conserve important Tribal cultural and historic assets and sites. Grant funding assists THPOs in executing their tribe's historic preservation programs and activities pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended, and other relevant laws.

Program Overview

The National Park Service (NPS) Tribal Preservation Program assists Indian tribes in preserving their historic properties and cultural traditions through the designation of Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPO) and through annual grant funding programs. Since 1996, THPOs have received HPF funds to assist preservation activities. Costs covered include staff salaries, archeological and architectural surveys, review and compliance activities, comprehensive preservation studies, National Register nominations, educational programs, and other preservation-related activities. These grants are not competitively awarded. The amount granted to each THPO is determined by formula developed in consultation with the tribes.

The program originated in 1990, when Congress directed NPS to study and report on Tribal preservation funding needs. The findings of that report, Keepers of the Treasures—Protecting Historic Properties and Cultural Traditions on Indian Lands, provided the foundation for this program and for the establishment of the grants programs.

In 1996, twelve tribes were approved by the Secretary of the Interior and NPS to assume the responsibilities of a Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) on tribal lands, pursuant to Section 101(d) of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended. The number of designated THPOs has grown to more than 200 in 2020, and continues to grow at an accelerated pace.

Two important grant programs resulted from the Keepers of the Treasures report that are funded through the Historic Preservation Fund. These are the formula grants to the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and the competitive Tribal Project Grants to Federally recognized tribes, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiian organizations.

Apportionment Formula for Awarding HPF funds to THPOs

Congress annually appropriates funds from the HPF that NPS awards to tribes to support both the THPO and the Tribal Heritage Grant Program. From the total appropriation, NPS allots a small amount, typically about 10%, of the appropriation, to fund project grants under the Tribal Heritage Grant Program. The remaining funds are divided among the eligible THPOs to support each tribe’s HPO program. The amount of each tribe’s award is calculated using the apportionment formula that was developed in consultation with THPOs (see formula below). NPS then prepares an apportionment certificate for signature by the Secretary of the Interior.

Apportionment Formula

Approximately 80% of the total appropriation is divided equally among all THPOs and the remaining 20% is apportioned based the area of Tribal lands as defined in the National Historic Preservation Act.

Last updated: February 23, 2022