Navigate the National Register Process

The National Register for Historic Places may be an effective way to assist in the protection of sacred places, cultural landscapes, historic buildings, battlefield, and massacre sites. A place may be registered as a traditional cultural property, historic district, archaeological district, historic property, or National Historic Landmark. The information below will help Native American communities seeking to enter into the National Registration Process.

A Note on Confidentiality Concerns:

Some Native American communities have expressed concern over divulging confidential information pertaining to ceremonial sites, burial sites, and medicine gathering locations, to name a few. Public knowledge of archaeological locations and burial places has often led to looting and disturbances. This information should be discussed among community members before submitting the National Register nomination form to decide what information should be written in the form.

A confidentiality checkbox on the nomination form exists, which can be checked to alert the Department of Interior not to make public the specific location of certain sites within the nominated place. However, it is up to the agency to decide whether to make the information public or not. If such information is deemed confidential by the agency, the information cannot be obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the general public.

Getting Started

Is the historic or cultural place located on tribal lands?

What makes an historic or cultural place eligible for listing on the National Register?

    1. In order to be listed on the National Register for Historic Places, a place must meet one or more of the four criteria set forth by the National Criteria for Evaluation, which are places:
      • Criterion A: That are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history.
      • Criterion B: That are associated with the lives of significant persons in or past.
      • Criterion C: That embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or that represent the work of a master, or that possess high artistic values, or that represent a significant and distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction; or
      • Criterion D: That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory.
    2. The Historic Place must be 50 years or older.

Who must we submit nominations to?

    • If the historic place is located on tribal lands and the tribe has a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer: Submit nominations to the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO). A listing is available here.
    • If the historic place is located on tribal lands and the tribe does not have a Tribal Historic Preservation Officer: Submit nominations to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). A listing is available here.
    • If the historic place is located on non-tribal lands: Submit nominations to the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). A listing is available here.
    • If the historic place is located on federal property: The agency’s federal preservation officer handles the nomination. A listing is available here.

What does a nomination look like?

Samples of nominations are located on the National Park Service website.

The National Park Service has also created two checklists to provide an idea of the information they are looking for in a nomination:

    1. Technical checklist
    2. Substantive checklist

What happens after the nomination is submitted?

The SHPO or THPO notifies any property owners that are affected, including local governments. Then, the SHPO/THPO allows the nomination to open for public comment.

What happens if people object to the nomination during the public comment period?

A property cannot be listed if the owner objects on an individual property. For an historic district nomination, a property cannot be listed if the majority of property owners object.