Learning from the Reservation Conference

Conference Call for Abstracts

Learning from the Reservation: Using the Traditional Cultural Place Perspective for Better Decision Making in a Diverse Cultural Landscape to be held April 23-25, 2015, at Delaware State University, 1200 N. DuPont Highway, Dover, Delaware 19901.

The National Council for Preservation Education is hosting a conference to highlight and share the innovative work that applies the Traditional Cultural Place perspective beyond its application to Native American historic resources to identify, document and mitigate impacts to properties important to other cultural groups. The issue of diversity in historic preservation, in terms of landscape associations, culture, and practice, is a critical and complicated one. This conference will provide a forum for the discussion of how issues of diversity challenge the application of conventional methods of identification, documentation and mitigation.

The historic resources to be discussed at this conference are best described as Traditional Cultural Places (TCPs), a term most often applied to those properties of importance to Native American/Indian Tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations. The title, Learning from the Reservation, pays homage to the perspective of the sovereign nations who deal with the impact of the dominant American culture on their land and community. The cultural groups being discussed at this forum can benefit from the hard work and legacy of the application of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) through the lens of the Tribal Preservation programs.

The most challenging historic resources are those that continue to function into the present in the same manner as they were in the past, protected by groups who continue to manage and preserve their culture. As practitioners, we have a challenge to assist these living historic communities with getting the recognition and protections of the NHPA in ways that actually protect what the community values about their places. What constitutes physical integrity when a property is continuing to be used as it was historically? What alternative documentation strategies have worked? The goal of this conference is to bring together practitioners who have wrestled with these issues to discuss the challenges faced in an open and supportive environment, to share solutions, and have a dialog with the National Park Service, State Historic Preservation Offices, preservation practitioners and the cultural communities who need the protections of the NHPA.

Written and revised in the 1990s, the National Register of Historic Places Bulletin 38, Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Traditional Cultural Properties provided an approach to tribal preservation issues and alluded to the application of these principles to non- Native American properties. The application and acceptance of these guidelines was without much further guidance or framework for the preservation practitioners to use. Bulletin 38 is under revision by the National Park Service staff, providing an opportune time to discuss the issues of the application of these principles and hear the NPS perspective on where this approach is headed.

The conference will be organized around a single track of papers focused on three aspects of working with non-traditional Traditional Cultural Places: Identification, Documentation, and Mitigation. Confirmed speakers include: preservation consultant, blogger and Bulletin 38 co-author Tom King; consultant, professor and visionary, Ned Kaufman; and National Register and National Historic Landmark Program Manager Paul Loether. Papers can address all three topics but must focus primarily on one aspect. A stipend to cover travel expenses will be offered to all successful paper authors to facilitate participation in this event.

Paper proposals should be no more than 400 words in length, and should be accompanied by a one-page CV.

Submit paper proposals by October 15, 2014, via email to Rebecca Sheppard, rjshep@udel.edu and Jeremy Wells, jwells@rwu.edu. Authors will be notified by November 30, 2014, regarding acceptance of papers. Full drafts of selected papers will be due by February 1, 2015.

For information about the conference, contact Robin Krawitz via email at rkrawitz@desu.edu or 302-857-7139.

Conference sponsors include: the National Council for Preservation Education, Delaware State University, the University of Delaware, Roger Williams University, the Delaware State Historic Preservation Office and Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, and the Historic Preservation Education Foundation.