New Rule Would Let Tribes Gather Plants, Minerals in National Parks

"The National Park Service is proposing a rule that would allow American Indian tribes to remove plants and minerals from national parks for traditional uses, a break from a Reagan-era policy that barred such activities, according to a draft obtained by Greenwire.

The document (pdf), dated March 25 and stamped "confidential," states that NPS intends to authorize agreements with federally recognized Indian tribes to allow plants, plant parts or minerals such as salts or clay to be used for traditional purposes.

The agreements would allow the continuation of cultural traditions on ancestral lands that are now part of the Park Service estate, but would not impair park resources, according to the draft. The rule would also provide opportunities for tribal youth, the agency and the public to learn about tribal traditions without compromising park values or management, it said."

Phil Taylor reports for Greenwire July 22, 2011.

Source: Greenwire, 07/25/2011