The Republic of the Marshall Islands' Historic Preservation Office is located within the Cultural Affairs Division of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Historic Preservation Office (HPO) was created by the Historic Preservation Act of 1991, amended in 1992, with the primary responsibility of protecting and preserving the tangible and intangible cultural properties of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). The HPO operates on the advice and assistance of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, a seven-member board that includes government officials and members of the general public. The Chairman of the Council is the Minister of Internal Affairs, who is responsible, among other things, for promoting cultural affairs, and is confirmed by the Cabinet.
In addition to its administrative function, the HPO also conducts other preservation activities; including Archaeological Survey and Inventory, Oral History and Ethnography, and maintaining the RMI Register of Historic Places. In Archaeological Survey and Inventory, the HPO is responsible for conducting nationwide surveys and inventories of historic and cultural properties. This involves the identification, evaluation, and recording of information about historic and cultural properties that are made accessible for development planning and educational purposes. In Oral History and Ethnography, the HPO documents oral history, culture, and traditions of the RMI for both present and future generations. The RMI Register of Historic Places is the official depository or custodian of all registered historic and cultural properties of the Marshall Islands. The Register is also responsible for ensuring the protection of registered properties by conducting close monitoring of registered properties to limit disturbance or damage by development projects.
The HPO receives funding from both the Republic of the Marshall Islands and the U.S. government. Since 1985, the HPO has been the recipient of a Historic Preservation Fund Grant administered by the US National Park Service, Department of the Interior. This grant is provided to the HPO on an annual basis, and is earmarked for program areas including program administration, public education, site nomination and registration, site development, archaeological survey and inventory, and oral history and ethnography. Once every four years, the grantor conducts a program review to ensure that the aimed goals and objectives have been met satisfactory during previous years, and then provides recommendations for future improvement.
In 1990, the HPO, in cooperation with the Micronesian Endowment for Historic Preservation (MEHP), successfully completed the RMI's portion of the Micronesian Resource Study (MRS) in archaeology and ethnography. The Micronesian Resource Study Project was a pilot project that focused on two primary areas. These were 1) Archaeology, aimed to assist the Micronesian Historic Preservation Programs in conducting archaeological surveys and to provide guidance in the preservation and management of identified highly significant properties; and 2) Ethnography, aimed to develop recommendations for the protection and use of historic and cultural resources. The MRS was completed on time and executive survey reports were submitted. Printing of individual reports from all MEHP respective members was delayed due to lack of funds. Recently funds became available for printing with the help of the National Park Service, Western Regional Office.
Historic Preservation Office
National Conference for State Historic Preservation
Outer Islands Surveys