Why Public Lands?

For over 20 years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has advocated for the preservation of historic and cultural resources on federal public lands. The Bureau of Land Management, the Forest Service and the National Park Service control millions of acres of land rich in resources, ranging from Native American cliff dwellings and sacred sites places to ranger cabins and early twentieth-century dude ranches. A variety of factors – inadequate survey information about cultural resources, insufficient funding, pressure from competing uses like energy development and recreation, lack of agency will – combine to expose resources on these lands to many types of threats. 

Exploring Public Lands & Sacred Sites

Do your travel plans include visiting archaeological, historical, or cultural places on our federal public lands? If so, use this page to learn how to enjoy these cultural resources appropriately, and to be a good steward of our shared history.

Click here to download a copy of our Archaeological Site Etiquette brochure, where you will find information on the do's and don'ts of visitng public lands.

Find more information on sacred sites visitation etiquette on the website of our partner, Sacred Sites International

Visit With Respect

In the video below, Native Americans of different generations and pueblo/tribal affiliations discuss their connections to prehistoric ruins and ways that we can visit them with care and respect.

In the Light of Reverence

Devils Tower. The Four Corners. Mount Shasta. All places of extraordinary beauty — and impassioned controversy — as Indians and non-Indians struggle to co-exist with very different ideas about how the land should be used. For Native Americans, the land is sacred and akin to the world's greatest cathedrals. For others, the land should be used for industry and recreation. Narrated by Peter Coyote and Tantoo Cardinal (Metis), In the Light of Reverenceis a beautifully rendered account of the struggles of the Lakota in the Black Hills, the Hopi in Arizona and the Wintu in California to protect their sacred sites.

Explore Cedar Mesa

Rising some 7,000 feet above the surrounding desert, Cedar Mesa occupies 475,000 acres of high plateau country in Utah's San Juan County. Learn more about this unique archaeological landscape and its many dramatic canyons, where the views are "almost like standing at the edge of the world."