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U.S. Forest Service Tribal Relations

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Tribal Relations
Tribal Relations

Sacred Sites

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack directed the Forest Service to work with the USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) to review existing laws, regulations, and policies and examine their effectiveness in ensuring a consistent level of protection for American Indian and Alaska Native sacred sites located on National Forest System lands. Secretary Vilsack asked the Forest Service to consult with Tribal leaders to determine how the Agency can do a better job addressing sacred site issues while simultaneously balancing pursuit of the Agency’s mission to deliver forest goods and services for current and future generations.

Sacred Sites Training Video

Beginning in 2013, a comprehensive online training module for federal employees and contractors has been under development in coordination with subject matter experts from across the Federal Government, Indian Country, Academia and Tribal Advocacy Groups. This training was finalized in Fall 2016 with assistance from the Department of Justice’s National Indian Country Training Initiative, and today was made available on line.

The video is just one of the products from an effort than began in December 2012 by the Departments of Defense, Interior, Agriculture, Energy, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) when they entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to improve the protection of and Indian access to sacred sites through interagency coordination and collaboration. Through collaboration and consultation, the signatory agencies have worked to raise awareness about Indian sacred sites and the importance of maintaining their integrity. Under this MOU, the signatories were charged with developing tools to assist the federal government in meeting their legal responsibilities to federally recognized tribes. The video is intended for use by federal, state, and tribal governments, and for all those who are interested in educating themselves about the significance of these sites.

View the Training Video on Sacred Sites…

Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy, and Interior Sign Memorandum to Collaborate to Protect Indian Sacred Sites

Four cabinet-level departments joined the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation December 6, 2012, in signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve the protection of Indian sacred sites. The MOU also calls for improving tribal access to the sites. It was signed by cabinet secretaries from the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior. It was also signed by the chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. USDA News Release…

The Sacred Sites MOU has been extended through December 31, 2024.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Releases Final Sacred Sites Report

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a report on December 6, 2012, calling for USDA and the U.S. Forest Service to work more closely with tribal governments in the protection, respectful interpretation and appropriate access to Indian sacred sites. USDA News Release…

The FINAL Report is available for review or collaborative discussion.

For more information, to request a hard copy or CD of the report, or to arrange a meeting, please email, or use any of the contacts listed on our Tribal Relations contact list (CURRENTLY OFFLINE).

Previous Sacred Sites Listening Sessions

Transcript of the November 29, 2010, and February 14, 2011, calls are available by request.

Background Materials

Last modified: 09:53:32 24-Jan-2020