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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 2000

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Educational Activities

National Indian Education Association.
The National Indian Education Association's 30th Annual Convention was held at the Myriad Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, October 17-20, 1999. The theme of the USGS exhibit was "Exploring a Changing Planet." This conference offered an opportunity to introduce USGS educational resources to the approximately 3,000 Native American educators and administrators from across the United States who attended the convention. It also provided the USGS with an opportunity to learn more about the issues facing Native educators and students. The USGS is pleased to support the NIEA goals of improving educational opportunities and resources for Native Americans throughout the United States by participating in this conference. Contact: Mark Barber, 605-594-6176, or Carrie Jucht, 605-594-6083,

American Indian Science & Engineering Society.
The American Indian Science & Engineering Society celebrated its 21st Anniversary National Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota in November 1999. The USGS sought to reach out to American Indian students regarding career opportunities in the natural sciences through an exhibit at the AISES career fair. In conjunction with the AISES conference, the USGS also participated in the organization's Government Relations Board to share knowledge about, and seek new opportunities for, Federal interactions with AISES. The USGS continued its participation in AISES conferences with a USGS exhibit at the AISES career fair at the AISES 22nd Annual Conference in November 2000 in Portland, Oregon. The exhibit was staffed by Native USGS employees, who also attended the year 2000 AISES Government Relations Board Meeting. Contact: Maria Montour 303-236-2787, or Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Continuing Progress with EdNet.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Indian Education (OIEP) is conducting a project called "Access Native America". The project has three parts: (1) school connectivity to the Internet; (2) education management; and most importantly, (3) school classroom applications. The U.S. Geological Survey continues to work with the BIA to link BIA-supported Indian schools through the EdNet program. There are 215 sites involved, including 185 schools from K-12; the remaining sites are located on college campuses. By March 2001, more than 180 elementary and secondary schools as well as several Tribal colleges had been connected to the Internet and the World Wide Web. The USGS is providing the technical wide-area network (WAN) expertise to connect each of these schools to the DoINET/Internet. The USGS is also assisting the BIA in training teachers and other educators to use this vast system, which also includes e-mail communications. The schools use these digital resources to assist Indian students, reduce isolation, and expand information resources, particularly in remote locations. Many Indian schools are in remote locations where Net access encourages the students to take "virtual trips" to libraries and museums. Several schools have created their own Web pages. Indian students have improved communications with other American Indians. Contact: Tim Lee, 303-236-4955,

Volunteers for Science.
In FY2000, the USGS Alabama Water Resources District worked with two volunteers for science as part of a BIA internship program. These two volunteers are members of the Poarch Creek Indians. They assisted the USGS in collecting of surface-water quality and quantity data as part of an ongoing study in the Mobile, Alabama area. The USGS provided training in field techniques and received valuable assistance in the field. We expect this relationship to continue in Fiscal Year 2001. Contact: Scott Gain, 615-837-4701,

Helping USGS Diversify by Coordinating with Haskell Indian Nations University.
The USGS, through the Kansas District Office, provides advice to Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) on Natural Resources curriculum issues as a member of the Natural Resources Advisory Board. Representatives of the USGS visited HINU as part of a broad effort to encourage natural science education and increase personnel diversity within the USGS. The USGS recruitment team participated in HINU's career fair in November 1999 and visited the campus in April and September 2000. The Kansas District participated in the November 2000 career fair at HINU. One HINU student was hired for a Student Career Enhancement Position at USGS' EROS Data Center and several HINU students were hired for part-time positions during Fiscal Year 2000 by the Lawrence, Kansas office of USGS. A USGS field office is maintained on the Haskell Indian Nations University Campus. Contact: Tom Trombley, 913-832-3551,, Maria Montour, 303-236-2787, or Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) and the USGS, through its support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), continue conducting quarterly satellite broadcasts for all participating Tribal Colleges and Universities from SIPI. The broadcasts, titled "GIS in Indian Country," have been a great success, providing new connections to Native communities, a means of including field work in the curriculum, and an excellent model for school-to-career opportunities. These broadcasts are dedicated to promoting tribal self-sufficiency by improving management of geographic information and building intertribal communication networks. The USGS has presented sessions on how and why Native American educators are using GIS in the curriculum to teach math, science, history, and geography. Many educators on Tribal lands are finding that the use of GIS is a natural one, given the crucial sense of connectedness to the earth that is a part of the culture and education in most Tribal schools. Through GIS, students can work on projects using real-world data in innovative ways, solving real-world problems in a team environment, and simulating what occurs in the workplace. The USGS presented major types of USGS geospatial data and described several projects taking place using GIS in education, including a neighborhood analysis project, a natural hazards earthquake project, a regional geography project, a chemical spill analysis project, and a pollution land use project. Sponsors for these broadcasts include SIPI, Rural Geospatial Innovations (RGIS), the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the Intertribal GIS Council, Inc. Participating institutions access the broadcast via satellite from a signal sent by the Distance Learning Center of SIPI. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Bird Diseases.
Patterns and trends in the occurrence of wildlife diseases are often indicators of environmental quality. The types, distribution, and frequency of diseases impacting bird populations are continually changing. USGS scientists are studying avian brain syndrome, a relatively new neurological pathogen that is infecting bald eagles and coots in the southeastern United States. Two field installations are cooperating in sponsoring the graduate work of a Washoe-Paiute student who is studying the problem. The student is working on a project using wild coots and game farm mallards to monitor the disease in North Carolina. This work will further efforts to identify the source and causes of avian brain syndrome. Contact: New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 607-255-2836,, or Tonie Rocke at the National Wildlife Health Center, 608-270-2451,

Wildlife Studies.
The USGS supported graduate research by a Native American on survey techniques for the northern goshawk. This advanced education opportunity was co-sponsored by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the University of Minnesota's Conservation Biology graduate program. Contact: Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research, 612-624-3421,

Promoting American Indian Science Education through South Dakota State University.
The USGS' South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit continues to participate in a South Dakota State University program titled "2+2+2" to help more American Indian students prepare for careers in the agricultural and biological sciences. The program is a team effort between high schools, Tribal colleges, and South Dakota State University. Options for study range from environmental management to food science to wildlife and fisheries. Each "two" of the "2+2+2" represents two years in high school, Tribal college, and the State University. The program's goal is to have all these 2's add up to a brighter future with increased opportunities for American Indians. Contact: South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, 605-688-6121,

Geographic Information System (GIS) Support and Training Program at Haskell Indian Nations University.
The purpose of this project is to develop and support a GIS Training program at Haskell Indian Nations University (HINU) as part of the University's new Baccalaureate program in Environmental Science. The USGS provides equipment and maintenance support for a GIS lab on the HINU Campus. As part of this support, USGS personnel teach an introductory class in GIS, give demonstrations and presentations to Natural Resources classes and assist with field trips. Students are provided with opportunities to work on BIA, Tribal, USGS, and other Federal agency GIS projects. A USGS factsheet on this program has been published and is also available online at: Contact: Tom Trombley, 913-832-3551,

Training for Montana Tribes.
The Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit cooperates with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bozeman, Montana, to train Native Americans in aspects of wildlife ecology. USGS scientists serve as advisors for undergraduates in the Fish and Wildlife Management program at Montana State University as well as through the Federal Student Career Experience Program. As result of the mentoring program, a Native American graduate student from the Crow Tribe of Indians is currently completing research as part of an overall study on the ecology of bull trout in the Saint Mary River Drainage, Glacier National Park, and on the Blackfeet Nation. Contact: Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 406-994-4549,

Graduate Student Sponsorship.
The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish cooperates with the USGS' Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in providing opportunities for graduate education. The Department provided research support for a Native American graduate student who completed field research on a sensitive bighorn sheep population. The USGS Unit facilitated the student's academic program and thesis preparation. This student also is an appointee in the Student Career Experience Program sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management and is working in cooperation with the Research Unit. Contact: New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 505-646-6053,

Water Camp for Teachers.
The USGS, Idaho District, provided funding for scholarships for Native American teachers from Tribal schools to attend the Idaho Water Education Foundation "Water Camp for Teachers." Teachers from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, Nez Perce Tribe, and Coeur d'Alene Tribe were offered the opportunity to participate in these workshops which were held at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, Idaho and Lewis & Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho, in June. This is the first year the workshops were expanded to Northern Idaho to enable more Native American teachers to attend. Contact: Derrill J. Cowing, 208-387-1316,

Developing a Curriculum for Ute and Navajo Students.
Soil crusts are important features of arid and semiarid ecosystems throughout the Southwest. In addition to stabilizing surfaces and increasing water absorption, living organisms in soil crusts contribute nitrogen and organic matter to ecosystems, functions that are especially important in desert ecosystems. Like most of the public, many Native Americans are unaware of the relationship of soil crust to the ecosystem. In addition, soil crusts on lands of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Navajo Nation have suffered significant damage from grazing animals. U. S. Geological Survey scientists are developing a curriculum for grade school students in the Ute and Navajo Nations that integrates biological and earth sciences. The curriculum will focus on teaching students about biological soil crusts and the crucial roles they play in the ecosystems of the Four Corners region. Government scientists hope to pass along the knowledge that is being gained in USGS research on soil crusts to the next generation of land stewards. The curriculum being prepared for Indian students will engage students in the workings of basic scientific concepts. Through this study of biology and earth science as they relates to their local environment, students will be encouraged to pursue further education in these disciplines and to consider careers in resource management. This project aims to inspire students to bring their expertise to the community as resource managers, ranchers, and better-informed members of the community. Contact: Jayne Belnap, 434-719-2333,

Educational Outreach to Navajo Children.
The USGS Flagstaff Field Center provided several educational presentations on geology to schools and organizations serving primarily Navajo children. "What Good Are Rocks?", an explanation of how rocks and minerals are used in toothpaste, building materials, and other aspects of daily life, was presented to students from Kayenta Primary School and Tonalea Boarding School from the Navajo Nation, and to students at American Indian Christian School. Navajo secondary school students attending a summer Environmental Education Outreach Program at Northern Arizona University (NAU) enjoyed a USGS presentation on the uses and types of remotely sensed data. The programs "Earthquakes, Volcanoes, and Plate Tectonics" and "Rocks, Minerals, and Fossils" were presented to classes from Little Singer Community School and Window Rock High School, respectively. Students from Leupp Elementary School, on the Navajo Nation, toured the astrogeology research facilities at the USGS Flagstaff Field Center. The USGS also provided educational materials, curriculum enhancements, and posters to the following organizations serving American Indian children: NAU liaison for tribal professionals; Window Rock High School, Grey Hills Academy, Kayenta Middle School, and Page Middle School on the Navajo Nation; summer enrichment classes, Tuba City High School, Navajo Nation; and the NAU Center for American Indian Economic Development Native American Youth Entrepreneur Camp. Contact: Sue Priest, 520-556-7148,

Training in Fisheries, Wildlife, Range Biology and Landscape Studies. The USGS' Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit at the University of Arizona continues to support a natural resource training program for American Indians who are recommended by Tribal Councils, individual Tribal members, or partner agencies. Currently the program has two graduate students and two undergraduate students from the White Mountain Apache Tribe, and one undergraduate from the Micmac Tribe. The graduate research work includes an evaluation of natural resource management programs on Tribal lands and the development of a GIS focused on hydrological features of the White Mountain Apache Tribal lands. The undergraduate students are studying range, wildlife and fisheries management. One Navajo student from northeastern Arizona graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in range management this past year and began a career with his Tribal natural resource management department. Another Navajo student from New Mexico graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree in fisheries and will be working with an environmental education program for youth this summer. Contact: Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 520-621-1959,

Frontiers of Navajo K-12 Science and Mathematics Education Workshop.
The Frontiers of Navajo K-12 Science and Mathematics Education Workshop was held at Diné College, Tsaile, Arizona, on August 3 and 4, 2000. Thirty kindergarten through sixth-grade teachers attended. The Workshop included four sessions: (1) Navajo bilingual education in life sciences, earth sciences, and space sciences; (2) astronomy; (3) water sciences and geology; and (4) atmospheric sciences. Workshop sponsors included: Department of Energy, Los Alamos National Laboratory; Seaborg Hall of Science; Arizona State University; Navajo Nation Rural Systemic Initiative Program; Diné College; University of New Mexico; Chinle Unified School District; and USGS. The program design for the Workshop included "concept-based" lectures with "hands-on inquiry-based" demonstrations. The Seaborg Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching was presented to a Navajo eighth-grade science teacher from Tse'Bit'ai Middle School, Shiprock, New Mexico. Contact: Paul Blanchard, 505-830-7947,

Hualapai Tribe Youth Camp.
The USGS, Arizona District, participated in the annual Youth Camp held during August 2000 and sponsored by the Hualapai Tribe. The Youth Camp is held every year for grades 7-12, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation. USGS employees spoke to the students about career opportunities with the USGS, USGS scientific activities, and tools used to collect hydrologic data. Contact: Robert J. Hart, 520-556-7137,

Education and Career Opportunities with USGS.
USGS scientific and human resource personnel met with the President and Treasurer of the DQ University, an accredited tribal two-year college in Davis, California for initial discussions on possible USGS roles. Topics included student internships, career opportunities, curriculum review, library support, and teaching. Further talks are planned. Contact: Walter Swain, 916-278-3024,

Alaska Native Internship Program.
The USGS worked with other DoI bureaus in Alaska and the University of Alaska Anchorage to establish the "Internship for Native Student Training and Education Program" (INSTEP) for Alaska Natives. The program gives interns six college credits and 10 weeks of work experience in DoI bureaus. The USGS contracted for two interns during the summer of 2000. Contact: Gordon Nelson, 907-786-7100,

Marine Science Opportunities.
The USGS Glacier Bay Field Station promoted a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, who had been a student employee of the USGS since 1998, into the Student Career Education Program. She is an intern in marine biology pursuing her final year of undergraduate education, which will be followed by a master's degree program in marine biology. This student has been assisting scientists who are performing oceanographic research and mapping the ocean floor. She has also been learning spatial analysis and the use of geographic information systems. Contact: USGS Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512,

Eskimo Students Assist in Biological Research.
USGS scientists in Alaska are continuing to enhance communication between government researchers and Native Alaskans. To demonstrate the kind of research being conducted, USGS recruited 12 Yupik and Cup'ik students to assist in a waterfowl study on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska. The students captured geese and swans and fitted them with leg bands and neck collars; movements of these waterfowl are being monitored as part of a large study to determine annual survival rates, migration pathways, and important staging and winter habitats. The year 2000 marks the 15th consecutive year of involvement by Alaska Native students from the Native village of Chevak in this important project; more than 150 Eskimo youth have volunteered to participate in this program since 1986. Contact: USGS Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512,

Alaskan Natives Learn the Science of Ecosystems.
In September 2000 students from Native Alaskan villages on the Alaska Peninsula attended a science field camp at Becharof National Wildlife Refuge. There they were introduced to principles of ecosystem science and participated in a unique field experience. A USGS scientist instructed students in bear and caribou ecology, plant community mapping, animal tracking, and nature observation skills, and demonstrated lithic knapping (stone tool making), primitive fire-starting techniques, and the traditional uses of native plants. The Native community has strongly supported this outreach effort, which has stimulated considerable interest in the natural sciences among Alaskan Native students. Contact: USGS Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512,

USGS Participates in Environmental Education Programs for Alaska Natives.
In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, USGS fishery biologists are conducting research on the freshwater ecology of Yukon River chum salmon stocks. The accessibility of the Chena River study site makes it ideal for educational programs and students interested in learning about field science in Alaska. In the summer of 2000, twelve students from the Earth Quest Wildlife and Wildlands Camp visited the site. The Earth Quest Camp is operated under a Challenge Cost Share Agreement among the USFWS, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Alaska Bird Observatory, Alaska Biological Research, Inc., Alaska Boreal Forest Council, ADFG, Alaska State Parks, Alaska Public Lands Information Center-Fairbanks, Northwest Arctic Borough School District, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The students, ages 16 to 18, came from rural areas throughout Alaska. During their visit to the study site, students were given hands-on training in fish identification, measurement, and tagging techniques, and were introduced to topics ranging from Pacific salmon life history and habitat requirements, to current concerns facing fisheries managers and subsistence fishers. The students also had an opportunity to meet federal scientists and find out how and why people become biologists. Contact: Jim Finn, 907-786-3450,

Native Alaskan Internship Program.
A USGS scientist began an internship program in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska during the summer of 2000 to recruit Native Alaskans into the field of fisheries science. That summer, two honor roll students from Nondalton, Alaska learned what it was like to be a fish biologist. The girls learned how to count migrating adult salmon, how to capture, anaesthetize and radiotag salmon, how to track them to their final spawning destinations, and how to collect, measure, and record data. Both students hope to work in the program next summer. The USGS biologist plans to recruit more teens into the program as a way of encouraging them to pursue a college degree consider a career in science. Contact: USGS Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512,

Education in Salmon Science.
Fisheries biology is one topic in the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Water Resources Technician Training Program for Native Americans. Native Alaskan students visited a study site on the Chena River where USGS scientists are conducting research on Yukon chum salmon. The students learned how to operate weirs on the river that count salmon, how to tag and measure fish, map spawning habitat, and collect environmental data. Native Alaskans from villages in western Alaska and the Yukon River drainage participated in the field work, which was also sponsored by the BIA, the Tanana Chiefs Conference, the EPA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. Students represented the following numerous Native villages throughout Alaska. Contact: Jim Finn, 907-786-3450,

Alaska Native youths with geese, Yukon-Kuskokwin Y-K Delta, Alaska.  Photographer: Craig Ely.

The contacts provided in the report were accurate at the time of publication. Please refer to the USGS Employee Directory or the Office of Tribal Relations contact page if you require information about a specific activity.

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