For instance, here are two examples of important laws whose recent developments I have explored in the last few weeks:
First is the National Historic Preservation Act (“NHPA”). Passed in 1966, the NHPA lays the foundation for the protection of American historical sites. Of note:
- Section 101 establishes both the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks.
- Section 106 initiates a review process with which federal agencies must comply before doing anything that might impact a site on the National Register. Thus, federal agencies must consult with states, Tribes, and other parties before beginning any project on the site.
- Section 108 creates the Historic Preservation Fund to carry out the NHPA.
- Section 201 creates the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).
In the middle of my summer at CHP, Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez introduced an Amendment to the INVEST in American Act to would permanently authorize the Historic Preservation Fund and double the amount appropriated to the Fund. If passed by the Senate, this would constitute a major moment for Historic Preservation in the US. Thus, I have had the opportunity to learn about the NHPA at an important moment.
In addition to learning about the NHPA this summer, I also have spent some time over the last two weeks researching the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. (“NAGPRA”). NAGPRA requires any federal agency or museum “that has possession or control over holdings or collections” of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and cultural patrimony to create an inventory of the remains or objects, attempt to identify to which Tribe they belong, and ultimately repatriate them. Notably, the Smithsonian does not abide by NAGPRA processes because it has its own repatriation policies.
NAGPRA is essential in preventing grave robbing (as seen for instance, in this Washington Post Magazine article that was circulated around the firm) and promoting more just museum repatriation policies. At the moment, NAGPRA is in the midst of a slew proposed revisions which would re-organize and expand the current regulations. Over the past few weeks, I have heard a great deal about these revisions from others at CHP and have had the chance to explore NAGPRA in more detail in research assignments.