USGS Office of Tribal Relations
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is an impartial scientific organization that strives to produce scientific results that are relevant to the people of the United States and their land and resource managers. USGS does not improve the quality of its customers' lives; it provides the informational tools for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and other customers to understand and improve their own lives.
In cooperation with American Indian and Alaska Native governments, the USGS conducts research on water and mineral resources, animals and plants of environmental, economic, or subsistence importance, natural hazards, and geologic resources. Digital data on cartography, mineral resources, stream flows, biota, and other data sets are available to American Indian and Alaska Native institutions. The USGS recognizes the need to learn from and share knowledge with Native peoples. This report describes most of the activities that the USGS conducted with American Indian and Alaska Native governments, educational institutions, and individuals during Federal Fiscal Year 2000. Some of these USGS activities were conducted in concert with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Others were conducted by Tribes and the USGS.
In the year 2000, the USGS began examining its activities related to American Indians and Native Alaskans to determine how it can better serve these customers within its mandates. More Tribal governments, educational institutions, and other Tribal organizations are using geographic information systems and other digital technologies in recent years. As Tribes become more interested and more adept at managing digital information, they are seeking such data from the USGS with greater frequency. The increasing use of such technologies allows Tribal governments additional means of managing lands and resources for the benefit of current and future generations. The USGS recognizes the need to make its information available to Tribal governments, and to work with those governments and other institutions to advance data management capabilities.
The USGS is responding to this need by increasing the transfer of scientific information to American Indian and Alaska Native governments and by training employees of these governments to conduct and improve scientific studies. The USGS is also encouraging American Indians and Alaska Natives to pursue careers in science, and seeking ways to hire Indian and Native students. By identifying, improving, and disseminating information about available hiring mechanisms, the USGS is working to make hiring such students easier, and therefore more likely, for USGS managers.
The U.S. Geological Survey is the Federal science bureau within the Department of the Interior (DoI). The USGS is non-regulatory and is not a significant manager of Federal or Trust lands or assets. However, there are two types of USGS activities that do involve American Indians, Alaska Natives, and their lands. The first type of activity is the course of formal studies, conducted through existing USGS programs, that involve collection of specific types of data as well as investigative and research projects. These projects have a duration of two or three years, although a few are parts of longer-term activities. Some are funded through cooperative agreements or reimbursable accounts, from monies provided to the USGS by individual Tribal governments or by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The USGS provides matching funds for cooperative projects. These formal projects may also receive funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Indian Health Service (part of the Department of Health and Human Services), or other Federal agencies. The USGS routinely works with its sister bureaus in the Department of the Interior to provide the scientific information and expertise needed to meet the Department's science priorities. Within this context, the USGS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are cooperating to use USGS knowledge for the benefit of American Indian and Native peoples and their lands.
The second type of USGS activity is less formal, based on initiatives designed and conducted by USGS employees. Frequently involving educational activities, these endeavors are prompted by employee interests, often as collateral issues, that result from an individual or group of USGS employees identifying and responding to an observed need. In these activities, USGS employees help us fulfill a mission of the USGS, to make science relevant, while helping their fellow citizens. USGS employees have also taken the initiative to assist American Indians and Alaska Natives through participation in several organizations that were created to foster knowledge of science among Native peoples and to help build support and communication networks. One such group is the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES). This group sponsors an annual national meeting in which USGS employees participate. USGS employees join this organization on a voluntary basis, paying the costs themselves, yet bringing the benefits of this expanded network to the USGS, as many employees do with other professional organizations.
Each part of the USGS has identified an American Indian/Alaska Native liaison. As USGS moves to a more regional organizational structure, it will establish contacts in the Western, Central, and Eastern Regions. Within the USGS, this report will help in developing outreach, educational, and program documents for use in future years. It is hoped that USGS employees, American Indians, and Alaska Natives will adapt these activities in new areas and will use the USGS contacts to expand the relevance of the USGS to more Americans.
This document was cooperatively prepared by:
Steve Hammond, Water Resources Division American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Sharon Crowley, Geologic Division American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Bonnie Gallahan, National Mapping Division American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Alexandra Hadley, Office of Equal Opportunity American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Hardy Pearce, Biological Resources Division American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Susan Marcus, USGS American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison
Sharon Cline designed and created the graphic layout of the report.
You are welcome to contact us with any questions that you may have.
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.