RMI Historic Preservation Office

What is RMI Histric Preservation Office?

What's New in HPO?

RMI Historic Preservation Office

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.

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RMI Historic Preservation Office News

Want to learn about archaeology? What about the history of the Marshall Islands? HPO Archeologist, Richard Williamson, is now visiting local schools to tell them about these topics and to answer questions. If you are interested in him coming to your school just call the HPO at 625-4HPO (4476).

Historic Preservation Office
The HPO wishes to welcome our newest team member, Joulia Brodovikova. Joulia will be working with us for a few months organizing, cataloging, and curating artifacts from previous archaeological exvations. We all wish her a warm "i$kwe" and good luck on the new job. Speaking of old jobs, Chief Archaeologist Richard Williamson has signed on for one more year.

National Conference for State Historic Preservation Officers
Historic Preservation Officer, Frederick deBrum, and Assistant Archaeologist, Hemley Benjamin, recently returned from Washington DC for the annual meeting of U.S. State Historic Preservation Officers. While on the trip they met with U.S. senators and congressman, as well as various ambassadors and other dignitaries. One of the accomplishments of the trip was the establishment of a Micronesian Conference set to take place in March 2001 at the prestigious Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC.

Database Project
The HPO is re-organizing the office, and the first thing we are doing is entering all of our reports, books, and articles into a computer database. HPO computer whiz, Morean Watak, has been in charge of this project from its inception in January- and she is way ahead of schedule. It is now possible to access the HPO library of information directly from one of our computers. If anyone has any questions concerning Marshallese history or historic preservation, stop by the office and ask Morean for assistance.

Outer Islands Surveys
This category has become a regular in this newsletter. That is because one of the primary duties of the HPO is to survey these islands of ours and record all the sites and stories that are so important to the continuation of the Marshallese way of life. We are always just returning from or getting ready to go on another outer island survey. We are now always in the process of going. The next two trips scheduled are to Aur and Namu Atolls. Besides the regulars who always make the trip, Alele's Assistant Curator Terry Mote will also be accompanying the team. Terry is in the middle of a long-term project studying the jowi's of the Marshall Islands. So everyone in Aur and Namu, brush up on family history so you can answer all of Terry's questions. The trips are scheduled for the middle of July and then August. If anyone has any comment please call the HPO at (692)625-4HPO(4476).

Underwater Surveys
Majuro local, Matt Holly, has been awarded the HPO contract to survey the lagoon of Wotje Atoll. Matt will begin survey in early July and will spend about ten days diving throughout Wotje. If you have any questions or comments on this project, please call the Deputy Historic Preservation Officer, Clary Makroro.

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 Contact Information

 PO Box 1454 Majuro, Marshall Islands 96960

Tel: (692) 625-4476 Fax: 625-4476

 E-mail: RMIHPO@ntamar.com


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