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Published: January 17, 2013

NCTC comments on NRC Draft Tribal Protocol Manual

Ms. Cindy Bladey, Chief
Rules, Announcements and Directives Branch (RADB)
Office of Administration
Mail Stop: TWB-05-BO1M
U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

RE: Draft Tribal Protocol Manual (TPM)

Dear Ms. Bladey:

Please find following Comments for NRC Draft Tribal Protocol Manual (TPM):

The Northern Chumash Tribal Council (NCTC) is located in San Luis Obispo California, and was formed under the guidelines of California Senate Bill 18 April 26, 2006 as a California State Recognized Tribal Government by the California Native American Heritage Commission, local Chumash community and local government. Organized and dedicated to preservation of the California Native American Chumash Culture, and Sacred Sites. NCTC is dedicated to meaningful consulting with Federal, State, local governments and agencies, consulting with the development community, and supporting tribal community well-being.

NCTC is an “affected tribe”, the PG&E nuclear power plant located between Avila Beach and Morro Bay California, is built on top of NCTC’s and the Chumash Nations Ancestors Sacred Village Site. All the land and ocean around the power plant is Sacred to the Chumash Peoples. The Chumash Peoples have live along the Central California Coast for over 15,000 years. The Chumash village at the power plant site dates beyond 9,000 years. The Chumash have live and been a part of this land forever.

NCTC is seeking thrivability through agriculture; our organic “Urban Vertical Farm” (see our web page for details) is located less than 10 miles from the Diablo Canyon Power Plant our corporate office in San Luis Obispo is 10 miles from the power plant. The land of the Chumash Nation stretches along the California coast from the Malibu, CA to the south, to Ragged Point to the north and Paso Robles, CA in the interior, approximately 200 miles of California coast line.

nrc tribal protocol

The Chumash Nation will be affect by all decision made by the NRC.

*It is extremely important that notification of federally recognized and state recognized Native American tribal governments have a strong mechanism such as Section 106 for the ability to make meaningful comments on any proposed project that will have an effect on Tribal Sacred Lands.

*In California we have approximately 134 Tribal governments and the majority of them are state recognized tribal governments, carrying out all the same duties as federally recognized tribal governments in a collaborative way, as Native American we all understand that we are equal and a piece of paper does not change the fact that we are all First Nation Peoples.

*NRC needs to expand the definition of Tribal Governments to include all state tribal governments, and other tribal entities that would like to participate. (See Section 106 ‘Tribal” definitions)

*Many tribal entities do not have the funds to participate unless NRC understands the economic disabilities of the Native American communities, and must have patients with tribal communities.

*Providing plenty of time for Native Americans to respond. Using emails, mailings, phone calls to contact tribal governments.

*NCTC wishes to emphasize that California Indian tribes as sovereign governmental entities will continue to exercise their right to engage in direct consultation with the state of California, Federal Government and jurisdictions of the state with respect to this issue that is of utmost importance to them, that is, the preservation of their traditional lands and cultural patrimony. California tribes are sovereign nations whose identity is integrally linked to the cultural landscape of California. Proposed Senate Bill 1828 Burton (Sacred Sites Bill) (2002) expressed this integral relationship as follows, “Spiritual integrity, community identity, political sovereignty and governance processes are intertwined in the cultural tradition that defines Native American tribes. In order to uphold inherent tribal rights with regard to cultural tradition, spiritual practices and self governance of California tribes, it is essential that the natural setting of these ceremonial and spiritual sites be preserved.”

*California Indians had and have a close physical and spiritual relationship with their lands and natural world. This is rooted in California Indians long occupation and intimate relationship with the land and environment. California Indians know certain places and land forms to be sacred power areas or sacred ceremonial areas. For California Indians man made villages, trails, gathering areas and ceremonial areas have significance because they are in areas sanctified by those that once used these sites and adjacent plant and animal habitats.

*California Indians and all First Peoples are a living people who have a spiritual connection to the landscape and who have a special and traditional responsibility to steward the land and its resources.

*California Indians often feel patronized when they are asked to participate in a process in which they have had no hand in creating and which is fundamentally driven by different values and goals. The current practice of cultural resource protection as it has resulted in loss of and destruction of sites, burials and loss of knowledge is unacceptable to California Indians and Indian County. There must be a re-design of the Federal and State CRM process to fully include Indian County views and values.

*NRC TPM guidelines should provide for tribal consultation and involvement at every level of the project.

*NRC TPM guidelines would provide protocols aimed at ensuring tribes are afforded timely notice and real opportunity for consultation and participation in project development.

*Tribes have concerns about the completeness and accuracy of CRM reports. Tribes indicate that documentation that derives from CRM projects is often inadequate at all levels. Archaeologists often make decision regarding site significance based on incomplete information resulting in site destruction.

*NRC TPM guidelines should provide uniform and explicit expectations for studies and standards for documentation and preparation of CRM reports, as well as standardized report formats.

*NRC TPM guidelines should provide a consistent and objective standards for evaluation of significant effects.

*NRC TPM guidelines should provide that research designs, phase I, II and III testing plans be completed in consultation with the culturally affiliated tribe.

*Tribes have expressed grave concern over how a resource is determined as significant/unique/eligible or non–significant /non –unique/non- eligible.

*NRC TPM guidelines should include uniform standards for determining significance and severity of impacts to cultural resources. The guidelines would consider and discuss thresholds for significance, and National /California register eligibility.

*Tribes have concerns that sites are often written off as non-significant individually and that the extent of the overall cultural landscape and cumulative impacts are not considered.

*NRC TPM guidelines should put forth a regional approach for determination of significance (including connected sites, entire habitation areas and landscapes). Sites are often interconnected locations used systematically by people that include living areas and processing locations. They may also be tied to places that, although not archaeological sites, are part of the overall cultural landscape such as resource gathering areas and sacred or religious places.

*Tribes feel strongly that human remains, burial goods, ceremonial resources and sacred items belong to the Tribe and should always be repatriated or reburied in the place where discovered. Tribes prefer preservation in place for village sites and other significant areas.

*NRC TPM guidelines should establish uniform standards for mitigation and the institution of design considerations that are based on primary goals of avoidance and preservation, and providing for data recovery only in extreme public safety issues, if avoidance and preservation are not feasible.

*California Tribes have repeatedly voiced concern over the adequacy of record keeping as well as secure preservation of reports and provision of reasonable tribal access and availability to tribes is essential for preservation of cultural patrimony. Each tribe should have availability of information from archaeological reports generated for NRC project and other information for use in its own tribal repositories and archives.

*NRC TPM should have effective protocols to provide for confidentiality of certain sensitive information must be in place. Tribes have also expressed concerns over complete and timely reporting of reports and data on tribal traditional lands. Standards and guidelines must ensure that copies of reports prepared by NRC must be filed at archaeological centers and that copies must be provided to tribes in a timely manner.

*NRC TPM guidelines should also provide for Native American monitors are required on site during all NRC construction activities and encourage the use of monitors at every phase of the project.

*Tribes have repeatedly expressed the need for overall regional conservations planning and development a conservation plans that identifies important cultural resources threatened in their traditional lands by NRC projects and then set out a strategy to protect these resources. Indians would play key roles in identifying important sites and places that need to be protected. There must be coordination of tribal, state, federal and local government entities working together to achieve shared conservation goals and to develop a regional cultural preservation and management strategy.

*Implement a nationwide level program aimed at creating, supporting and overseeing of cultural resource management plans in every local jurisdiction affected by NRC projects and at tailoring a funding mechanism.

*Tribes should individually and in partnership with NRC and each other and conservation groups and agencies, purchase, set aside, and otherwise establish protective restrictions for culturally sensitive areas affect by NRC projects.

*NRC TPM should incorporation standards for archaeological work that provide more emphasis on creative site protection rather than destruction through mitigation. Archaeological sites, traditional cultural properties and other cultural properties should be given priority in land management decisions by the NRC.

NCTC would like to thank the NRC for the opportunity to comment on the TPM, if you have any questions please contact us. We may have additional comments before the deadline, thank you.


Fred Collins
Tribal Administrator
Northern Chumash Tribal Council

Northern Chumash Tribal Council: 
Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary: 
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