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Cultural Resources

What are cultural resources?

Munkers Creek Ceramic EffiagyCultural resources are artifacts or material remains of human activity spanning the very recent to the ancient past.  Cultural resources can be either tangible objects such as plates, spear points, or pots, or intangible like landscapes, mountains, or sacred places. Fresno Points from the Plains Village Period Kansas has been a home to humans for over 12,000 years and throughout that time, they have lived, crafted objects, changed the landscape, established settlements and lifeways, raised families, communed with spirits and ancestors, waged war, and died within the greater Great Plains region.  Much of this long occupational history is not preserved in any written record, but rather within Native tribal songs, dances, and stories, and within cultural resources that were left behind or discarded.

Cultural resources are non-renewable and as such differ greatly from the other soil, air, water, plant, and animal resources that the Kansas NRCS assists in conserving throughout the state.  Cultural resources are unique to human beings and can impart critical information about past environments, societies, and lifeways that can be utilized to provide insight and a deep-time perspective to contemporary issues in policy, resiliency, and conservation.  Archaeological excavation of a tipi ring in Pawnee County, KansasOnly a very small amount of all the land in Kansas has ever been surveyed archaeologically for unknown sites and as such remain unprotected from modern human activities that can potentially destroy them.  Archaeologists utilize cultural resources to construct a picture of the past, but as sites are lost or destroyed, the picture becomes harder and harder to see clearly and critical information that could aid living populations can become obscured or lost forever.

Kansas NRCS Cultural Resources Management Team Members

The Kansas NRCS has six archaeologists on staff that endeavor to protect and conserve cultural resources in Kansas for future generations. Our team includes:

Christophter Eck, M.S.,RPA

Christopher J. Eck, M.S., RPA
Cultural Resources Specialist
Salina, Kansas
christopher.eck@usda.gov
(785) 823-4562

Brandy Dacus, M.S., RPA

Brandy A. Dacus, M.S., RPA
Cultural Resources Specialist
Salina, Kansas
brandy.dacus@usda.gov
(785) 309-4522

(Vacant)
Area Archeologist
Hays, Kansas

 

(Vacant)
Area Archeologist
Hutchinson, Kansas

 

(Vacant)
Area Archeologist
Emporia, Kansas

 

(Vacant)
Area Archeologist
Manhattan, Kansas

Overview of Federal Compliance

El Quartelejo Pueblo Site in Scott County KansasThe importance of cultural resources has been recognized for over a century in the United States, from the Antiquities Act of 1906 to the more recent Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 and all the executive orders and congressional actions in between and since.  Many of our laws are aimed at the preservation of critical locations in American history, such a battlefields and ship wreaks, native and endangered species, and of course historic and Native American landmarks, spiritual places, and significant archaeological sites.  In this vein, the Kansas NRCS has a mandate as a Federal agency to uphold and follow the Federal law surrounding the use of Federal funds, to investigate, consult, and account for cultural resources as part of pre-construction environmental evaluation processes.  The Kansas NRCS is committed to executing Federal laws and regulatory policy and identifying, protecting, and conserving cultural resources for the benefit of future generations.

The Teske Farmstead, a NRHP in Pottawatomie County, KansasThe Federal mandate comes directly from two pieces of legislation that work in tandem, the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) with 36 CFR Part 800, and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Together Sections 106 and 110 of NHPA direct Federal agencies to meaningfully and in good faith consult on undertakings, ground disturbing projects utilizing Federal funding programs administered by a Federal agency, that have potentials to effect cultural resources prior to installation.  The heart of this process is consultation with the State Historic Preservations Officer and affiliated or interested Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.  These entities either separately or simultaneously can request various field investigations of Areas of Potential Effects (APEs) or additional information regarding the project to assess effects individually.  Kansas NRCS policy is always to first identify and plan avoidance or alternatives that avoid effecting cultural resources whenever possible.  Plains Woodland Period ceramic sherdsThe Kansas NRCS utilizes a Prototype Programmatic Agreement (PPA) between the agency and the Kansas SHPO to facilitate cultural resources reviews and determine which conservation practices standards should be reviewed for effects based on level of ground disturbance.  All high and low potential to affect conservation practice standards are reviewed by the cultural resources management team utilizing archival background research, establishing APEs, conducting surveys, and consultation with Kansas SHPO and THPOs of Tribal Nations with consultation interests or ancestral lands within the state of Kansas.  Lastly, a secure record is maintained of all cultural resources review requests by fiscal year utilizing the Cultural Resources Status and Requests Tool (CR-START).

Consultation

Indians of Kansas 1541 - 1854, Harvey County Historic Society MapThe Kansas NRCS currently consults with 37 tribal Nations and maintains a list of tribal representatives, THPOs, and consultants for the purposes of cultural resources consultation.  The agency also regularly communicates all project information with the Kansas SHPO via a secure document review portal maintained by the Kansas State Historic Society.  The Kansas NRCS values the relationships with Tribal Governments and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices which facilitates meaningful incorporation of invaluable tribal perspectives and knowledge into conservation planning.  1856 Reservation Map of Eastern Kansas.We seek consistent and regular consultation with Tribal Nations with consultation interests in cultural and spiritual areas within Kansas in good faith as prescribed and codified by Federal laws and USDA regulations pertaining to cultural resources compliance.  The agency has appointed two tribal consultation liaisons that work directly with the resident tribes within the state and with tribes currently external to the state.  Per NRCS and USDA policy, the State Conservationist retains sole agency authority for government-to-government consultation and as such is privy to all cultural resource review activities involving tribal communications and consultation.  The Kansas NRCS seeks to continuously strengthen and enhance Tribal relationships given the scope of on-going and renewing conservation activities facilitated by the agency.  All consultation activity is conducted following 36 CFR Part 800 and supplemental executive orders and agency and departmental regulations.

The goal of tribal consultation is to identify and protect any critical cultural resources within project APEs that are important to tribes with ancestral lands within Kansas.  The Kansas NRCS utilizes a monthly batch consultation reporting processes, where a report is generated of all the monthly project review requests that are submitted to the archeology team are compiled and sent to all the tribes with known consultation interest in Kansas. Artistic depiction of Etzanoa near Arkansas City, Kansas Utilizing this method, THPOs are empowered to select which project may impact cultural resources within in any upcoming project areas and identify them for intensive archeological survey or which can be inspected by our trained field staff via provisions within the Kansas Prototype Programmatic Agreement (PPA). Any information provided by any consulting tribe remains confidential, with only NRCS employees having access to archival and active project materials.

Helpful Links and Resources

Tribes with consultation interests in Kansas. Take some time to learn about their cultures, histories, and people and how the land designated as the state of Kansas is important and often sacred to many Tribes.