Lakota Nation Journal
Cal Thunder Hawk
Rosebud seeks to open Historic Preservation Office
Story and Photos by Cal Thunder Hawk
Lakota Journal Staff Writer
PINE RIDGE BUREAU
ROSEBUD—Shannon Brown, originally from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, is the Interim Coordinator of the of the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. He was appointed to this position by an RST tribal council resolution in January.
Last week, the RST Interim Land Use and Environment Commission solicited public comments on the Preservation Plan for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office designation from the Secretary of the Interior. The RST Sicangu Oyate Land Office provided the site and administrative staff where the draft of the plan that was prepared by Brown in March 24 and supporting documents were available for review. The public was invited to submit comments about the plan.
According to the plan, the RST is a sovereign nation recognized by the United States as meriting a government-to-government relationship. The RST maintains that it is the only organization that can accurately and whole-heartedly represent the Sicangu culture in the area of historic preservation. Thus, a THPO is needed in order for the RST to control land use and development and also to protect its archaeological, historical and cultural resources.
The proposed office would consult and help federal and state agencies carry out the provisions of legislation, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, with the tribe on a government-to-government basis as well. The preservation office will assume responsibility under the NHPA concerning traditional, religious and cultural property of the tribe within its aboriginal lands.
The office will also determine the eligibility of tribal property for inclusion into the National Register and consult with federal agencies and monitor compliance with Section 16 of the NHPA.
As a part of this plan, RST will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Sinte Gleska University for the Sicangu Heritage Center, a sub-entity of SGU, to become the tribal repository for the RST archeological reports and collections. The preservation office will also provide public outreach and cultural awareness programs in conjunction with the university’s Cultural Resource Management Program and the SHC in order to educate and provide hands-on training. Eventually this will include the development of a tribal museum.
Brown said that the next steps in this process involve a review of the public comments gathered during this time. The comments will be typed up and presented to the RST Interim Land Use and Environment Commission. Brown will then incorporate the recommendations that emerge from this meeting.
September 16 he will go before a RST tribal council Land and Natural Resources Committee. And September 17 he will take the plan before the entire tribal council for final approval. The approved plan will be forwarded to Brian Mitchell, National Park Service, Washington, DC. Mitchell oversees the THPO program. A three-month review process by the NPS will follow. If NPS determines that, based upon the plan, RST is capable of carrying out THPO functions then an agreement will be made with the Secretary of the Interior and the tribe will assume the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
Brown has been putting in more than a 40-hour week since he came into the position in January. The only financial compensation he’s received has been in the form of reimbursement from the SO Land Office for mileage. He works without pay but the compensation he’s received in return has been the personal satisfaction from seeing to it that a job is done well, he said.
He said, “I’d like to thank the RST Interim Land Use and Environment Commission. They were very helpful and supportive during the time that I was developing this plan. Whenever I needed advice, they provided it. They encouraged me during the low times, too. There were some hard times that I went through. I had some health problems. I worked through those and they put a smile on my face each time I talked to them. So that’s what kept me going through those times.”
“I love this field of work. I believe that it is a good thing for the tribe. I love my culture. I’d like to see the sites that are important to us preserved for our future generations,” he said.
He continued, “It’s been a great learning experience. The development of this plan required establishing good working relationships with many different people in state, federal and tribal agencies.”
Brown came to Rosebud in 1992. He is a Hunkpapa, descended from the Sitting Bull tiyospaye (“family”).