MISSION & HISTORY
MISSION & HISTORY
Our Mission Statement
To champion Tribal sovereignty through protection and preservation of Seminole cultural interests.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) was established on July 15, 2002 by the Tribal Council through Tribal Council Resolution C-185-02. On October 8, 2006, through provisions of Section 101(d) (2) of the National Historic Preservation Act, Tribal Council signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the National Park Service (NPS), implementing a Historic Preservation Plan. The duties of the State Historic Preservation Officer were officially shifted to the Tribe’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.
Tribal lands, as defined by the NPS, are “all lands within the exterior boundaries of any Indian reservation and all dependent Indian communities” (16 U.S.C. 470w). The responsibilities of the THPO under the National Historic Preservation Act and 36 CFR sect. 800.2 stipulate that through consultation with federal agencies, the THPO has direct supervision over cultural resources on tribal lands. As such, the THPO staff is responsible for preserving the archaeological, historic, and cultural sites of significance to the Seminole Tribe. In 2013, the Tribal Council unanimously passed the Seminole Tribe of Florida Cultural Resource Ordinance (C-02-14). Enactment of the Ordinance* will serve to improve long term planning and development, preservation of the Tribe’s cultural heritage, and the protection of cultural resources and historic property both on and off the reservations. *Clicking on Ordinance will take you to a brochure that discusses the CRO.
In order to better meet the needs of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the THPO is organized into four sections (Archaeometry, Collections, Compliance Review, and Tribal Archaeology) under the direct supervision of the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Visit our THPO Section page to find out more!
For more information on the history and culture of the Seminole Tribe, visit our sister department -the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum.
Past and present THPO Staff at the signing of the ACHP agreement in 2016
Meet the Directors
Heritage and Environment Resources Office
Dr. Backhouse has served the Seminole Tribe of Florida since 2007. Performing the duties of Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) since 2012 and as the Senior Director of the Heritage and Environment Resources Office (HERO) since 2018. Overseeing a staff of more than 70 heritage and environmental professionals HERO helps manage the operations and strategic implementation of the AAM accredited Ah-Tah-THi-Ki Museum, Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Environment Resources Management Department as well as overseeing significant community focused programming, including Climate Resilience and the To-Pee-Kee-Ke Yak-Ne Community Center. Dr. Backhouse received a Ph.D. in Archaeology in 2008, is a member of the Register of Professional Archaeologists and serves as a Board Member for the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation. In addition to these duties Dr. Backhouse serves on the Editorial Board for the Journal of Archaeological Science Reports as well as being a member of numerous associated professional bodies.
TRIBAL HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICER
Tina Marie Osceola, an enrolled member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, serves as both the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer and the Director of the program. Osceola is a graduate of Rollins College, where she earned a B.A. in Political Science, and of Nova Southeastern University, where she received a Master’s in Public Administration. Osceola has served her Tribe in many capacities, including being appointed an Associate Trial Judge on the first Tribal Court. Osceola is a lifelong resident of Naples, Florida, where she lives with her family.
Tribal Historic Preservation Office
Juan J. Cancel serves as the Assistant Director for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office. He graduated from Hunter College – City University of New York, where he earned a B.A. in Geography. He has served in different capacities for the Seminole Tribe since he started back in 2007, including the THPO Chief Data Analyst and the THPO GIS Specialist. He has an on-going passion to work with the THPO team to carry out the mission of championing Tribal sovereignty through the preservation of Seminole cultural interests and incorporating GIS into that work. He is a recipient of both the ESRI Special Achievement in GIS award in 2009 and the National Tribal Geographic Information Support Center – Outstanding Tribal GIS Award in 2014.
“There is no blueprint for the successful development of a THPO.”
Paul Backhouse, HERO Director and THPO
“It is a goal of the THPO and a tenant of Tribal archaeology to improve upon the values of archaeology to better represent the views of Tribal members.”
Griffis, Sepanski, and Chalfant (We Come for Good)
“Where appropriate, ITEK [Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge] can and should inform Federal decision making along with scientific inquiry.”
Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Nov 2021