Working with Indigenous Peoples: Our Responsibilities, Commitments, and Actions

A silhouette of Chumash paddlers in a tomol (water vessel) in the ocean.
The Chumash tomol, ‘Elye’wun, crosses from the mainland to Limuw (Santa Cruz Island). Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA

The National Marine Sanctuary System overlaps across Indigenous Peoples' homelands—lands and waters that Indigenous Peoples have been part of and cared for from time immemorial, and many Indigenous cultures continue to hold the responsibility to care for today. Indigenous Peoples' leadership, knowledges, ingenuity, and vision within these spaces are needed at the forefront of conservation discussions, research, actions, and policies.

As part of the U.S. federal government, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries holds a trust responsibility to federally recognized Tribes and Native Hawaiian Communities, and takes seriously the responsibility and opportunities to work through equitable partnerships with all Indigenous Peoples where the program works.

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is developing a new space on this website to more fully share our legal responsibilities, policies, and commitments.


ONMS Commitments


Indigenous Knowledge

More to Come!

Please contact the national cultural resource coordinator, Carolina Behe (, or the Pacific cultural resource coordinator, Kalani Quiocho (, with any questions or if your Indigenous community would like to share language within the new space.