THPO Listening Sessions

The Tribal Historic Preservation Project initiated a Listening Session in 2007 with the goal of bringing together cultural resources stakeholders from tribal, state, and federal agencies. The first listening session was held in the community of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and was an expansion of the cultural resources ‘breakout sessions’ at the 2007 Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Tribal Transportation Conference. The initial listening session was designed to facilitate discussion and understanding of tribal cultural perspectives and to build better partnerships in cultural resources preservation.One of the highlights of this listening session and sessions to follow was the cultural exchange of conference attendees.

We recognize that all cultures are unique and want to provide space to highlight the various cultures of Listening Session attendees. To that end, we established the Cultural Exchange to bring insight to the unique perspectives and experiences of all participants. Attendees are asked to bring one item to introduce who they are. In the past years, individuals have shared family heirlooms and stories, traditional foods, and songs. The item is presented and in some cases, given away to another person. Each attendee is given a chance to share and it has become a fun, informative and insightful portion of our agenda.

The second annual Listening Session was held in the Sokaogon Chippewa Community in the Fall of 2009. This session built on the successes of the first gathering and provided an opportunity for cultural resources representatives to improve working relationships at the project level by identifying and removing communication barriers, and sharing perspectives on tribal cultural resources. Participating organizations included Wisconsin tribal representatives, WisDOT, archaeology firms, the State Historic Preservation Office, and the Federal Highway Administration.

The most recent Listening Session was held in the Fall of 2011 in the Stockbridge-Munsee Community in central Wisconsin. This session included a pre-conference training on ‘Understanding Archaeological Reports and Other Forms of Documentation’ and two days of formal presentations and cultural exchanges. This was the first Listening Session since the changes were adopted by the WisDOT to the Facilities Development Manual (FDM) Chapter 26 on Historic Preservation. The Tribal Historic Preservation Project has been at the forefront in working with the Tribes to update this chapter which outlines the Section 106 Consultation process so this was an important milestone for the project.