Four federal agencies signed a memorandum of understanding in early December pledging to help protect and increase access to sacred sites on federal land.
The Washington Post, via the Associated Press, reported on the memorandum signing on Dec. 6.
The memo signed by the departments of Agriculture, Defense, Energy and Interior also calls for improving tribal access to sites that are on federal land.
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The agencies plan to work during the next five years to raise awareness about sacred sites. That includes developing a website, a training program for federal employees and guidance for managing sacred sites.
But, as the AP reports, nothing can be done for the sacred set of rock carvings in California’s Sierra Nevada.
The agreement comes just weeks after thieves made off with rock carvings from a sacred site in California’s Sierra Nevada. The site on the Volcanic Tableland north of Bishop, Calif., was what land managers called one of the most significant rock art sites in the region. The local Paiute tribe uses the site for ceremonies.
Tribal leaders have said they’re appalled at what happened to the petroglyphs, and the Bureau of Land Management is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service also announced Thursday the findings of a report on sacred sites. It includes a list of recommendations for working more closely with tribes in the protection, interpretation and access to such sites.
“American Indian and Alaska Native values and culture have made our nation rich in spirit and deserve to be honored and respected,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.