What is a THPO?

Tribal Historic Preservation Offices are officially designated by a federally-recognized Indian tribe to direct a program approved by the National Park Service and the THPO must have assumed some or all of the functions of State Historic Preservation Officers on Tribal lands. This program was made possible by the provisions of Section 101(d)(2) of the National Historic Preservation Act. 

What Federal Laws are most important for historic preservation?

The Antiquities Act of 1906: This was officially the first legislation in the United States aimed at preserving the America’s historic sites on federal land. The Act prompted the survey and protection of historic sites throughout the country, and imposed stiff penalties for destroying sites owned by the federal government. 

The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966: The NHPA changed the face of preservation in American society. The NHPA established the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs), the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the Section 106 Review Process. The Act was amended in 1992 to set up Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs), granting them the same roles and responsibilities of SHPOs.

What Federal legislation protects the interest of preserving Native American heritage?

The American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA) of 1978- This law protects the inherent right of Native American tribes to preserve and practice their religious traditions. The Archaeological Resources Protection Act (ARPA) of 1979 defines archaeological resources as “any material remains of past human life or activities that are of archaeological interest” and requires permits before excavating and removing any of these resources on public and tribal lands.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990 set up a process for museums and federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural items (human remains, funerary items, sacred items, or objects of cultural patrimony) back to the lineal descendants or associated federally-recognized tribe. 

What is Florida Chapter 872.05?

Florida Chapter 872.05 is the Florida State Burial Resources Law. Chapter 872.05 makes it illegal to knowingly disturb the resting places of ancestral remains on state and private lands. If you think you have discovered ancestral remains, please contact the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Resources Human Remains - Division of Historical Resources - Florida Department of State ( You may also contact Domonique deBeaubien at the THPO, and she can direct you to the proper contact.

I have an artifact, culturally sensitive object, or may have found an archaeological site, what do I do?

The Tribal Historic Preservation Office does not accept donations of archaeological artifacts or take possession of ancestral remains, or survey off reservation lands. Please contact the Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research to assist you in these matters.

What is the National Register of Historic Places?

The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), created under the NHPA of 1966, is the official federal inventory of the nation’s recognized historic districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects.

What is the Tribal Register of Historic Places?

The Tribal Register of Historic Places (TRHP) mirrors the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in many ways and was developed so that exceptionally significant Seminole sites that do not meet the NRHP’s criteria will still be potentially preserved. All sites considered for the TRHP must already be documented within the Seminole Site File (SSF) prior to being nominated. Nominations of properties to the TRHP can be made by anyone and will be reviewed for significance by the TRHP committee, tribal representatives, and officials.

What is the Seminole Site File?

The Seminole Site File (SSF) is the repository for all cultural resource information (historical, archaeological, and architectural) pertinent to the Reservation lands held by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The generation of new records and the curation of existing documents by the Tribe are significant because it provides the Tribe the ability to manage its cultural resources in an appropriate manner. The results of this process have important direct implications for community planning, permitting, cultural heritage, education, and career opportunities for tribal members.

What is archaeology?

Archaeology is the study of past cultures and ways of life based upon what people left behind. Archaeology combines both field excavation and laboratory analysis. To find out more information on how the Seminole Tribe of Florida does archaeology visit the Tribal Archaeology page.

I live on a STOF Reservation and require a project to be completed that might cause ground disturbance, do I need a permit?

Yes you do need a THPO permit. Please contact Joseph Butler, Chief Data Analyst or email

I live on a STOF Reservation and submitted an application for a project that requires a permit, what is the status of the project?

What can the THPO do about cultural resources that have been found on private land?

The THPO cannot halt activity/development on private lands and, unfortunately cultural resources may be impacted. However, state laws regarding burial resources still apply. 

Who do I call if I see on the news that ancestral remains or cultural resources have been found?

Please reach out to the THPO office (Domonique deBeaubien or with the news channel, title of the segment and any specific details.

Does the THPO’s Archaeologists remove ancestral remains from the reservation lands when they conduct their cultural resource surveys?

No. The THPO has a Senior Bioarchaeologist on staff to check all cultural resources and artifacts and make sure there are no ancestral remains among anything that is brought to the BLC to be cataloged in the archaeological laboratory.

Does the THPO store ancestral remains in their offices, lab, or vaults?

No. Anytime the THPO interfaces with an outside agency that has discovered ancestral remains within their facilities or are contacted about inadvertent discoveries on public lands, the NAGPRA Repatriation Committee works with the outside agencies to find a secure and safe place for the ancestral remains. After going through the entire Florida Statute 872.05 or NAGPRA process, the ancestors are then reburied on non-reservation land in accordance with guidance provided by Tribal cultural advisors.

I am a student and would like to do an internship at the THPO, is this possible?

Yes, the THPO has an exciting internship program. Please visit our website’s Get Involved page for more information.

Skip to content