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Traditional Cultural Properties in SC
Identification and Evaluation for Section 106

Traditional Cultural Properties (TCPs) are a subset of historic properties that reflect traditions associated with a cultural group. According to the National Register of Historic Places, “culture” is defined as the “traditions, beliefs, practices, lifeways, arts, crafts, and social institutions of any community, be it an Indian tribe, a local ethnic group, or the people of the nation as a whole.” Traditions are those “beliefs, customs, and practices of a living community of people that have been passed down through generations, usually orally or through practice.” 

TCPs can be related to spiritual power, traditional practices, or stories important to a living (i.e. still extant) community. Often, TCPs are associated with Native American groups, but TCPs may be connected with any specific cultural group. South Carolina has many cultures associated with the history of the state, and different traditions and traditional places should be considered in planning federal projects in the state. Most TCPs are not readily identifiable to persons outside of the cultural group, making it critical to consult with interested parties and groups to identify and evaluate TCPs.


To begin the process of identifying TCPs, consider the history of the area, including settlement patterns, land use, landscapes, and known cultural groups. Identify the people that may have additional information on cultural practices and traditions, such as local political leaders, historical society leaders, and community leaders (pastors, teachers, business owners). Talk to local planners, the anthropology department of the local college or university, or the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Identify the best practices for consultation, such as community meetings, individual interviews, or presenting the project to community leaders. Often, a form letter or a notice in the newspaper is not sufficient to identify consulting parties associated with TCPs. Identification of appropriate consulting parties takes legwork.

Identification and Evaluation

Once appropriate consulting parties are identified, consider what is needed to plan the project. Is it important to know where sites are? Why are the sites significant to the community? What documentation is needed to determine if the TCP is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places? Consider using the experience and expertise of ethnogrophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and folklorists to assist in the identification of TCPs. 

A property must be associated with a tradition at least 50 years old and meet the threshold of the National Register criteria to be a historic property under Section 106. Criterion A, association with events and broad patterns of history, tends to be the general criteria for TCPs, although TCPs can be eligible under other criteria.

TCPs are eligible for the National Register because of association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community. These beliefs and practices should be a part of the community’s history and are critical to maintaining the cultural identity of the community. The National Register criteria, however, were not designed with the evaluation of TCPs in mind. Some TCPs, such as rivers or forests, may not have specific boundaries. It may also be difficult to categorize a TCP as a building, structure, site, object, or district. For Section 106 identification and evaluation, consider whether or not a specific boundary or category is necessary to treat the TCP as a historic property. Keep in mind that it is critical to listen to those who ascribe significance to the property to understand and evaluate the significance of the TCP.

TCPs must also have integrity to be eligible for the National Register. In addition to integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association, TCPs should reflect integrity of relationship and condition. TCPs must have a clear connection to the culture’s beliefs and practices associated with it.  Depending on the type of relationship the TCP has to the culture, the integrity of condition may or may not adversely affect the TCP. For example, if a field of sweetgrass is still used for collecting materials for sweetgrass basket making, it would still have its association to the practice of the Gullah culture even if the field is surrounded by contemporary development. Remember, if the culture still ascribes significance to the place, even if the setting or other aspects of integrity have been altered, the TCP may still have integrity of relationship.

Documentation of TCPs should include a written description of the property; recordation on appropriate site file or survey card forms; photographs; maps; oral history interviews/transcripts; and any special challenges presented in collecting the information and determining its eligibility for the National Register. Evaluations should use the TCP guidance published by the National Park Service. Information collected can be kept confidential if it meets the criteria set forth under Section 304 of the National Historic Preservation Act.


When considering effects of a federal project on TCPs, it is important to be open and thorough in consultation with the cultural group. Project impacts should be clearly explained and should highlight potential impacts. Adverse effects to TCPs could include the elimination of access to the site; destruction of the property; the removal of control over the property; or the introduction of indirect effects, such as changes to the visual or auditory nature of the TCP. If the group associated with the TCP perceives an adverse effect to the property, this is an important consideration in assessing effects. Again, consultation is key.

Types of Traditional Cultural Properties
(from the National Register guidelines)

**A location associated with the traditional beliefs of a Native American group about its origins, its cultural history, or the nature of the world

**A rural community whose organization, buildings and structures, or patterns of land use reflect the cultural traditions valued by its long-term residents

**An urban neighborhood that is the traditional home of a particular cultural group, and that reflects its beliefs and practices

**A location where a community has traditionally carried out economic, artistic or other cultural practices important in maintaining its historic identity

South Carolina Examples
(these properties may not be specifically listed in the National Register as TCPs)

• Churches/continuous use of site for religious expression important to the culture
      Horn Creek Baptist Church, Edgefield County
      Indian Fields Methodist Campground, Dorchester County
• Cemeteries
      King Cemetery, Charleston County 
• Native American culture
     o Federal and state-recognized tribes
           Fishdam Ford, Union and Chester Counties 
     o Tribes with no official recognition
           Altamaha Town, Beaufort County
• Gullah communities
      Daufuskie Island Historic District, Beaufort County 
• African American communities and places
      Penn Center Historic District, Beaufort County
      The Green, Beaufort County
• Hunting
• Agriculture
      Pee Dee River Rice Planters Historic District, Georgetown County
      Gallivants Ferry Historic District, Horry County
• Sweetgrass collecting for basket-making
• Clay for pottery
      Pottersville, Edgefield County
      Trapp and Chandler Pottery Site, Greenwood County 
 • Fishing/shrimping areas
      McClellanville Historic District, Charleston County
      Bluffton Oyster Company, Bluffton Historic District, Beaufort County
• Traditional food-gathering areas/association with foodways
      Coker Spring, Aiken County 
• Traditional medicine-gathering areas
• Landscapes
      Ashley River Historic District, Charleston and Dorchester Counties 
      Reedy River Falls Historic Park and Greenway, Greenville County
      Table Rock Mountain, Table Rock State Park Historic District, Pickens County
• Rock art
• Urban neighborhoods associated with a specific culture
      Waverly Historic District, Richland County
• Rural communities
      Pendleton Historic District, Anderson County
      Cedar Springs Historic District, Abbeville County