Photo: DOI Office of International Affairs, Lea Holcer

HeritageA nation’s or community’s heritage is central to its identity, and this identity is constantly affected by the passage of time, the movement of people, and the development of new art and technologies. The natural and cultural legacy passed on through historic places, monuments, artifacts, works of art, folklore, knowledge, and landscapes must be conserved, researched, understood, and shared in order to be sustained.

As the leading national steward of America’s federal lands, wildlife, and historic sites, the U.S. Department of theInterior has the responsibility to help preserve and maintain these legacies for the benefit of present and future generations. The Department is tasked with preserving, understanding and showcasing the country’s natural and cultural heritage, which helps strengthen our identity, diversity and economy. Interior administers laws to prevent the destruction and looting of archaeological resources, and to promote the identification and repatriation of certain cultural items important for Native American Indian tribes.

Sharing technical expertise and interpreting histories across borders helps reinforce common values, impart new information and protect heritage of universal value to humanity. Interior works globally to help governments and communities identify ways to protect and benefit from their natural and cultural heritage, often through sustainable tourism. Projects in a variety of settings -- ranging from World Heritage Sites to active archaeological excavations to community-managed protected areas -- employ a number of tools to foster partnerships such as developing visitor educational programs, training local community tourist guides, and facilitating cultural exchanges with the U.S. Through these efforts, the Department of the Interior is sharing its expertise and learning from its international counterparts to safeguard, understand and celebrate our diverse global heritage.

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