This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Brian Jordan: I’m just going to give a brief discussion on BOEM, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s role in studying maritime heritage and evaluating maritime cultural landscape and give a little bit of background on this also. The maritime cultural landscape is not a new idea. I’ve been working actually with several of the people that are going to be talking later on today and BOEM is in partner with NOAA who will look at several ways of how do you apply maritime cultural landscape approach in the real world. I’ll talk briefly about some of those.
This maritime cultural landscape approach, it really was developed and codified over 2009 through to 2011. The Marine Protected Areas Federal Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to both the Department of the Interior and Department of Commerce on how to develop a national system of marine protected areas. For instance, national parks and national marine sanctuaries for example. I used to work for them, for NOAA, before I went to work for the State of Maryland SHPO’s office before I worked for BOEM. I have quite a bit of experience working with this and I actually was part of an external working group that was convened by the MPA Federal Advisory Committee in 2009 to look at how to evaluate and increase protection of cultural heritage and look at cultural heritage in this national system of marine protected areas.
One of the white papers that was developed by this working group, which composed of both indigenous peoples, Native Americans, Indian, Native Alaskans, and Native Hawaiian people as well as archaeologists from the federal and state level, as well as cultural resource managers. This working group developed a recommendation and the paper was called “The Recommendations for Integrated Management Using a Cultural Landscape Approach in the National Marine Protected Area System.” This was one of the first papers that actually was developed that looked at codifying what a cultural landscape approach would be in a theoretical way and how it could be used to help marine protected area managers to identify and adopt policies and practices that manage both cultural and natural resources at ecosystem and landscape level.
It was recognized that in the past, cultural resource management paradigms approached resources individually for the most part. I know BOEM, which was previously the Minerals Management Service, we did large scale regional cultural heritage assessment. Mainly focused on where shipwrecks were located or where they could potentially be located. There was no real connection or understanding in a landscape venue of how these sites and places were connected together and therefore what is the context and significance of it.
Oftentimes, the protection of the cultural heritage resources in marine areas is separated from that of the protection of natural resources and that divide is often administrative in origin. Back when the National Ocean Policy was developed, it called for an effective ecosystem based management, which recognizes that there are connections between living things in the physical environment and these connections are often multifaceted and inseparable.
What was really missing from that approach is that human perspective over time. A lot of times, that human perspective and cultural heritage is part of that human imprint on the environment as well as how people have used environment in places over time, was missing from not understanding it. Part of this paper really identified that if you’re going to use an ecosystem based approach, it requires the simultaneous understanding of cultural and natural factors and resources. This has been known by many indigenous cultures for millennium and that humans are an important part of the ecosystem and the human dimensions to the environment have to be considered when looking at the ecosystem and any kind of ecosystem based management approach.
This cultural landscape approach really looks at using cultural landscapes as an analytical framework to understand places and their associated resources. It’s analogous and complementary to this ecosystem based management, but it looks at the relationship among living and non-living resources and their environment. It also emphasizes the cultural relationship to the environment and highlights the connections between human behavior and the condition of the marine ecosystem over time.
Now having said that, the real trick on this is how do you actually apply that in the real world? This is something that several agencies like NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuaries and our bureau in particular have been trying to actually approach that in an applied manner. How do you actually look at using a cultural landscape approach? We’ve funded two studies over the last few years. One on the west coast, which I believe you may have heard a little bit about before. It’s “Characterizing Tribal Cultural Landscape for Resource Preservation and Protection.” This is a project that’s done as a partnership between the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, NOAA, tribal facilitators, and Tribal Historic Preservation Officers of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde in Oregon, the Yurok Tribe in California, and the Makah Tribe in Washington.
It’s really looking at using this holistic cultural landscape approach to integrate science with historical, archaeological, and traditional knowledge. The resulting tool is going to describe methodologies and best practices for tribes to identify and communicate areas of significance. Case studies from the three tribes will demonstrate how to use the tool. We’re hoping that this effort will provide a transferable, transparent, and cost-effective method for tribes to document places and resources, past and present, significant to the communities and outside agencies, thus enhancing their capability for consultation.
This is a real important piece because there’s also this feeling that we’ve run up against, the maritime cultural resource managers, is that everything that’s out, that’s underwater or off the coast is somehow separate and disconnected from those that are on land. That’s not true. You really have this continuity from upland areas through river sheds, down to the coast, and out to places that actually people used to live on the outer continental shelf in past periods that are now underwater. Recognizing and, this one study is looking at recognizing that and assisting the tribes and giving them the capability to understand and participate in consultation by describing the resources in this landscape method.
Then the second study is what Doug Harris and John King and Dave Robinson will describe later on, but it’s a more focused look in the New England area on submerged paleo-cultural landscape and how do you actually work with American Indian tribes and incorporate their oral tradition into trying to understand where ancient Indian tribes would have lived on the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf) before sea level rise. Those are the big studies going on and I know Brad Barr is going to talk about using the cultural landscape approach within the sanctuaries too. These are several just … The way I think that a lot of agencies are going to start moving because I think it’s an important way of actually looking at things in a broader regional context that tie how places and resources, both cultural and natural, have meaning over time and why they are important to protect and why they’re just important to understanding how we have impacted the environment and the ecosystems over time.
Barbara Wyatt: The white paper that you were talking about, perhaps that’s been supplanted by some other materials that your office or others have prepared, but is there anything that people might read on your website that would carry forth what you’ve been talking about?
Brian: There’s nothing on our website right now. The studies that we’re funding in partnership with NOAA and with URI and Narragansant Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office, those are ongoing studies and so we don’t have any finished product. We are hoping that when those studies are finalized we will have more updated products on how to apply this.
The white paper I describe is available on the Marine Protected Area of Federal Advisory Committee part of the website, and so you could look at that, and it’s dated November of 2011. I think it’s a pretty critical paper in understanding this approach, and I think it’s up to the different federal and state and academic partners to look at that and then how do you actually apply that in the real world is always the trick.
Brad Barr: I wanted to mention to Brian that you might want to mention something about the Hawaii project as well.
Brian: Dave Ball is on the line too, he’s one of our archeologist regional preservation officers on the West Coast. He’s the one leading up on that one. We’re working again with NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuaries Program to look at doing a regional cultural heritage characterization of the Hawaiian Islands, and so really looking at using this cultural landscape approach for that. That’s a fairly new study that we’re doing so I don’t have a lot of information on that, but thanks for mentioning that, Brad.
Dave Ball: This is Dave. The Hawaii effort is picking up on what we’ve been doing with the Tribal Cultural Landscapes Project on the West Coast. It’s one component of a larger effort that’s looking at a number of different types of archaeological and cultural resources. We haven’t begun any of the workshops or anything yet. They’re still working on getting the subcontracts in place to move forward with that effort.