Creating an Indigenous Cultural Heritage Permitting System

An ICH permitting system can go hand-in-hand with the development of an ICH policy. An ICH permit is a contract that outlines the conditions that provide permission for a company or individual to do work in a Nation’s territory on anything related to ICH. A permit generally outlines the protocols and practices to which applicants must agree as a condition of their work, as it relates to ICH.

For example, a permit may include a requirement that a community member be hired on-site as an archaeologist, field technician or field monitor as a way of bringing income into the community.

ICH permits are important because they ensure that the protocols and values of the community/Nation are respected and interested parties are held accountable for their actions when engaging with cultural heritage and/or the land. They recognize Indigenous sovereignty over the management of ICH. They can also help ensure that the work being done benefits the community or Nation.

Who might apply for an ICH permit?

  • Property owners
  • Developers
  • Archaeologists
  • Researchers
  • Industry proponents

When developing a cultural heritage permitting system or reviewing an existing one, ICH teams can think about the following questions:

  • What actions or activities require a permit?
  • Who has the authority to grant a permit?
  • What is expected of permit holders?
  • How will the ICH team know if the permit expectations are being fulfilled by the holder?
  • What forms will communication between the community and the permit applicant take?
  • Who is responsible for monitoring compliance and enforcement of the permit terms and conditions?

What to Include in A Permit Application

A permit application normally asks for the following information:

  • The applicant’s name
  • Company or institution that the applicant is affiliated with
  • Details about the proposed project or research (name, location, description)
  • The purpose of the project or research (Is it development related? For educational purposes?)
  • Proposed timeline
  • What type of work is being proposed (Archaeological survey? Excavation? Interviews?)

It is a good idea to include information about a community’s or Nation’s terms and conditions for permit holders (such as hiring a community member to work on the applicant’s project team) and any reporting requirements.

Click here to see an example of an ICH permit application, from the Stó:lō Nation, and click here to see a an ICH research application from the Heiltsuk Nation.