Theses Master's

Valuing Heritage: Indigenous Stakeholders and the National Park Service in the American Southwest

Ouwerkerk, Jessica Courtney

Native Americans have had a long and contentious history with the National Park Service (NPS). In recent years attempts have being made to restructure this relationship. Indigenous groups, once displaced not only from their land, but also simultaneously from access to their heritage and sacred spaces, are being involved in the management of NPS sites as 'stakeholders.' As stakeholders, the NPS has recognized that a tribe has a vested interest in the site, and has a claim to participate in the heritage process associated with that site. This process is mediated through a federally mandated consultation process, as well as unofficial, less formal, communications. By looking at this trend towards "value-based management," this thesis contributes to a growing awareness of a paradigm shift in historic preservation practice in the United States. By conducting onsite research and engaging in conversations with NPS staff at three case study sites—Bandelier National Monument, Aztec Ruins National Monument, and Canyon de Chelly National Monument—this thesis examines to what extent a value-based management approach is being utilized, and how recognition and elaboration of such a framework might improve management at each site. It is determined that while consultation occurs to some degree at each site, the extent to which indigenous stakeholder's values are prioritized in management decisions are limited. This is due to a variety of factors including, an imbalance of stakeholder authority, the 'institutional character' of the NPS, the absence of a strong Federal mandate for consultation, as well as, lacking indigenous access to the heritage management process itself. While the values of the NPS and indigenous populations of the southwest may at times seem irreconcilable, a true value-based management approach is encouraged for use by the NPS in order to better protect the values of all stakeholders at heritage sites.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2025-12-02.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Bentel, Paul L.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
September 28, 2012