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Tribe:  Spirit Lake Tribe

THPO Name: Dr. Erich Longie

Federal Fiscal Year: 2015 - 2016




Spirit Lake Tribe (SLT) is proud to be a member of the National Park Service Tribal Historic Preservation program. We are entering into our fourth year of operation.



Annual Accomplishments Narrative:

The Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office (SL THPO) staff experience in preservation issues, and their knowledge of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, has been steadily increasing. Over time, we are having an increasing impact on all levels of government: local, state, and federal. Tribal members are now approaching us with a variety of requests from surveying land for home sites to establishing a family cemetery.  On our reservation, federal agencies consult with us on everything from water lines to the planting of trees. The Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office is proud of our working relationship and our reputation with tribal, state, and federal partners.


An additional project we are proud of this year was joining in on the effort to change the name of Sully's Hill National Game Preserve, which is located within the borders Spirit Lake Nation, to White Horse Hill, which was the traditional name for the hill. There is a local legend about a white horse coming down from the hill to mingle with the people. We met with Senator Hoeven's office, and they are assisting with getting congressional approval.


We have also activated a committee of three elders who are fluent in the Dakota language and have vast knowledge of Dakota customs, culture, and history. We have been meeting the first Friday of the month. The purpose of these meetings is to guide our preservation program and ensure that we are upholding our department vision: "To enrich the Spirit Lake Oyate culture through defending and preserving our heritage and passing on the Dakota way of life."


Anticipated Activities List (to be submitted at the start of the fiscal year):

The following narrative, addresses the Anticipated Activities List submitted at the start of the Fiscal Year and explains how each reported project or activity in this report is linked to identifying, evaluating, documenting, designating, preserving, or protecting significant historic and archeological properties as spelled out in our work plan.



Dr. Erich Longie, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, prepares the annual work plan, prepares the accomplishments report, and grants a product summary report as required in the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Tribe and the National Park Service (NPS).  Lori Brown, Spirit Lake Tribe's CFO, utilizes the NPS Financial Management System to draw down funds and submit financial reports to the Federal Audit Clearinghouse as required. This management team has enabled the SL THPO to operate and participate meaningfully in the National Historic Preservation Program and protect cultural resources from adverse impacts.


Numbers 2, and 3 on SL THPO's Anticipated Activities List

Numbers one and two were addressed through a joint effort between the Spirit Lake Oyate and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate to develop a cultural resource database, a Tribal Register of Historic Places, unique to our people. We are sister tribes - separated only by processes of the reservation era. The Tribal Register will be a step in bringing our people back together as we work on places that matter most to us. This will be a database of sites significant to our people, recorded by our people, and vetted through our process. We currently have cultural monitors and technicians who survey and document sites as part of the Section 106 process. We feel a need to create a place where we house these data reports and gather together the collective wisdom and knowledge of our people. This will be the foundation of our growing cultural resource management program.


For the initial stage of the project, we have been building a roadmap of the processes and protocols that need to be in place in order for the project to move forward. We conducted two meetings in August of 2016, one at Spirit Lake, and one at Sisseton Wahpeton. An MICA Group Phase 2 grant (MICA Grant) funded these meetings. At these meetings, we attempted to identify the needs of each individual tribe - particularly relating to the security of sacred information, the process in which sites will be nominated and placed on the tribal register, and the individual infrastructure needs of each tribe. These meetings included tribal elders, council members, and THPO staff that will be working with different aspects of the Tribal Register database.


The second part of the project has been the initial development stage. Policy and procedures are being developed for administration of the tribal register based on results of the initial meetings and follow up meetings. Drafts of these documents on policy and procedure are being prepared for the tribes to review to ensure they meet the tribes' needs both culturally and legally. In addition, we are developing Memorandum of Agreements to formalize partnerships between the tribes, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and other state and federal agencies, which may be included. We are also creating template forms for the tribal register to be used as standard forms to nominate and list sites on the tribal register. We are developing software reflective of each tribe's needs. The software will be integrated into the tribal systems for site management. The Tribal Register is being developed with the Dakota language in mind as the Dakota language has special characters that will need to be integrated into the system. We have been continually working to ensure all security concerns protecting this most sensitive data are met using the highest standards and protocols.


In the first part of 2017, we will have a beta version of the Tribal Register that we will be able to fully implement, though the development team is expected to continue to meet for up to six months following beta implementation to ensure all aspects of the Tribal Register database will be working properly. If there are additional needs, they can be addressed during the third and final phase. The full system should be implemented by the summer or fall of 2017.


Once established, we see truly limitless potential for our Tribal Register. This will be the cornerstone not only of our cultural resource program, but it will also be a central database of our heritage, of values and traditions of the Dakota people. By engaging knowledgeable members of the community in the creation of the Tribal Register, we will ensure for generations to come the places and ideas of our people will be known. We will have the opportunity to disseminate oral histories, create films, do mapping, teach language, and use all sorts of new and exciting forms of media in the process. We know what an influential role social media has on our youth. We hope to engage them in the development of new and exciting ways to promote the culture of the Dakota people. The places we look to record in our Tribal Register are not only reflections of our past, they are pictures and narratives of our people today, now - how we arrived where we are and where we are going. Keeping records of these places are the insurance that this robust culture that was passed to us can be handed down to our next generation. By protecting these places, we are protecting ourselves.  Our language, our culture, and our very identity are tied to the places we hold sacred. The Tribal Register will be our generation's greatest contribution to enriching the lives of our people and ensuring the Dakota way of life is passed on for many generations to come.


National Register:

Not assumed in the Tribe's program plan.


Development, Acquisition, and Covenants:

No major activities anticipated.


Preservation Tax Incentives:

Not assumed in the Tribe's program plan.



Review and Compliance:

We actively work with a number of state and federal agencies on Section 106 reviews including tribal, state, and local reviews. We consult on federal undertakings with potential to affect historic properties significant to our people, properties with the potential for eligibility  for listing on the National and/or Tribal Register. We work with those agencies to address potential impacts to such properties in accordance with cultural resource regulations (i.e. actively participate in Tribal, state, and local regulatory processes). The Spirit Lake THPO also actively monitors and participates in discussions on regulatory changes, both proposed and actual, in order to understand, consult, and advise on cultural laws and changes to them. We do a significant number of reviews with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). This year alone we did over 1600 reviews through the FCC. We anticipate this number to be roughly the same over the next year. There are additional federal, state, and tribal agencies we work with each year. We anticipate an additional 80+ consultations with these other agencies.


Training Program - Design an Agency Training Program for Explaining the Tribe's Preservation Program:

The THPO has created a presentation, which explains in detail Section 106 and how the Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office carries out responsibilities entrusted to us under the National Historic Preservation Act. The Tribal Council has agreed to attend a meeting showing this presentation sometime in the future at a date yet to be scheduled. This presentation is complete and ready to be shown to the tribal council and other members of the tribe at any time.


Local Government Certification:

Not assumed in the Tribe's program plan.


Other Program Activities (provide public information, education and training, and technical assistance in historic preservation):

The THPO did present three times at the Tribal Directors' monthly meeting. One presentation was on the battle of Whitestone Hill Battle Field and how the Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office is working with the State of North Dakota to enhance the Dakota presence at the battlefield. We also presented an overview of five workshops the THPO authored, which are based in traditional Dakota values of honesty, courage, perseverance, and generosity. The THPO traveled to Minot, North Dakota, at the request of the Director of Native American Affairs and presented to students, faculty, and administration about race based logos. I mention presentations, ones seemingly having nothing to do with preservation, because all presentations begin with this statement, "Now let me tell you this; everything you learned in school about us North Dakota Natives is either false, slanted to make us look like savages, or outright lies." In addition, all the presentations contain information about Dakota culture, spirituality,


and history. Individuals who attend the presentations go away with a new look, and hopefully attitude, towards Native Americans.


I also attended a training held by Andrew J. Richard, MA, RPA, Northern Cheyenne Tribal Archaeologist, from Lame Deer, Montana. Andy's training covered Archaeological Survey and Site Management, which included survey cost, field equipment needed, and training on how to write policy and procedures.


We also have an Arch Tech Training at Spirit Lake Casino and Resort conducted by Dr. Sebastian LeBeau. Participants will be awarded a certificate, which will make them eligible to go on surveys with archeologists.


In continuing outreach to the community, the THPO has created a Facebook page. On the Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Office page, we share information about meetings we have attended, Dakota language preservation initiatives, excerpts of Section 106 and other similar laws, and every other subject having to do with Native American language and culture, both past and present. We feel, as protectors of the culture, we are obligated to continue to pass on information about our people, our heritage, and our language.


About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Dr. Erich Longie published on January 4, 2017 4:03 PM.

Who you are, where you come from was the previous entry in this blog.


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