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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 2001

Contents | Tribes/Tribal Governments | Organizations/Events | States | Intro | Highlights | Education | Resource/Environment | Technical Assistance | General Coordination/Policy | Future Opportunities | Map (156 Kb PDF) | USGS Contacts

Educational Activities

National Indian Education Association. The National Indian Education Association held its annual conference in Billings, Montana in October 2001. USGS participation included a booth, staffed by employees from the EROS Data Center and the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center. For the first time, USGS Rocky Mountain Mapping Center staff presented a workshop on using geographic information systems technology in the classroom, showing how this technique can make a variety of subjects, including history, geography, economics, and science, more relevant to Native students. Contact (exhibit): Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,; Contact (workshop): Joseph Kerski, 303-202-4315,

American Indian Science & Engineering Society. The American Indian Science & Engineering Society (AISES) celebrated its 22nd National Conference in Portland, Oregon in November 2000. The USGS had a recruitment booth at the AISES career fair (supported by the USGS Geography discipline and Office of Personnel), where there were approximately 2,200 Native students, educators, and professionals from the United States and Canada. In conjunction with the AISES conference, the USGS participated in the AISES Government Relations Council to share knowledge of and seek new opportunities for Federal interactions with AISES. Native scientists with the USGS Geology discipline, who are active AISES professional members, helped staff the USGS career fair booth with other local and regional USGS employees. The USGS used this opportunity to provide information about hiring opportunities and educator materials, as well as information on the USGS mission to the attendees. A USGS scientist also participated in a concurrent session on professional development for Native students. Contact: Maria Montour 303-236-2787,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal GIS and Metadata Training for American Indians. NOAA and the USGS, through its support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), presented an annual training session on GIS/metadata and coastal issues for American Indians at the NOAA Coastal Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina. Topics included the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, water quality, and flora and fauna monitoring. The training session helped assure Tribal investment in data collection and maintenance and provided Tribal access to public data catalogs and clearinghouses. The course accommodates 20 Native students at each annual session. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Water Technician Training Course. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsored its annual Water Technician Training Course with sessions at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. Tribal representatives from throughout Indian Country participated in the course. USGS Water Resources personnel from the New Mexico and Washington District Offices taught a module titled, "Introduction to Hydrologic Data Collection Techniques." Instruction included classroom and field activities on ground-water concepts and data collection, surface-water data collection, and water-quality data collection. Contact: Edward (Nick) Nickerson (New Mexico), 505-646-7618,; Robert Kimbrough (Washington), 253-428-3600 ext.2608,

Tribal personnel are trained by USGS hydrologists as part of the BIA Water Technician Training Program, held at Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington.  Photographer: David E. Click. Tribal personnel are trained by USGS hydrologists as part of the BIA Water Technician Training Program, held at Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington. Photographer: David E. Click.

National States GIS Council (NSGIC). In cooperation with the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the National States GIS Council will plan and develop regional Tribal-State workshops with National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Intertribal GIS Council (IGC), and other Tribal entities. The workshops will teach GIS and metadata usage for the governing bodies to use in their planning processes. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Introduction to GIS Courses for American Indians with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The USFWS and the USGS, through its support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), continue offering training sessions, approximately quarterly, to introduce American Indian students to the uses of GIS. The Native American students include Tribal, State, and Federal employees. Topics of the sessions include the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, various spatial data themes and layers, constructing queries, and cartographic principles. The sessions offer best practices used and describe the effect of scale on mapped data. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Wetland Restoration and Invasive Nonindigenous Fishes, Big Cypress Seminole Reservation. Drainage and other manipulations have degraded wetland ecosystems on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation, allowing invasive (non-indigenous) fishes to become dominant. Degradation of wetland and fish communities is a problem throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem, and development of management solutions is of interest not only to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, but also to a wide range of land and resource managers. In a cooperative effort involving the USGS Florida Caribbean Science Center, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and Florida Atlantic University, studies are underway to assess the efficacy of various restoration strategies in eliminating invaders and bringing back native fish assemblages. Scientists are conducting regular surveys of fish assemblages in degraded and restored wetlands on the Reservation, and will be testing the effects of various management actions on changes in the relative abundance of invasive and native species. Field work began in June 2001 and is expected to continue through 2002. USGS Contact: William F. Loftus, 305-242-7835,; Seminole Contact: William A. Dunston, Seminole Tribe of Florida, 863-983-2157

Wetland Ecology Workshop. USGS personnel provided wetland ecology training to representatives of the Spirit Lake Nation, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe in May 2001. The five-day workshop featured a combination of classroom, laboratory, and field exercises. Some of the topics covered included an introduction to geographical information systems (GIS) and the National Wetlands Inventory, the wetland continuum concept, wetland stressors, floristic quality assessment, wetland birds, wetland invertebrates and amphibians, laboratory and field techniques used in wetland ecology studies, and designing a wetland monitoring project. Participants left the workshop with a draft wetland monitoring plan they had tailored to fit the unique circumstances and needs of their individual Tribe. USGS cooperation and technical assistance continue to be available to the Tribes as they work to refine and implement wetland monitoring projects on Tribal lands. Contact: Ned H. Euliss Jr., 701-253-5564,

Sinte Gleska University/U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Memorandum of Understanding. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Sinte Gleska University (SGU) and the USGS have completed the first year of a multi-year partnership agreement. The partners are working together to conduct programs and activities that enhance the capabilities of SGU to improve educational opportunities, contribute positively to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and enhance SGU and USGS programs. During the first year of the agreement, USGS transferred 26 surplus computers and related equipment to SGU and an intern from SGU conducted prairie dog and sage research to benefit both the Rosebud Tribe and USGS. SGU made USGS aware of virtual reality research that led to the development of the GeoWall technology. SGU and USGS participated in many professional conferences as partners and sponsored a National States GIS Council Workshop. SGU leaders are interested in expanding Tribal colleges' access to and use of USGS digital imagery archives. SGU and USGS are planning a conference of Tribal college representatives to support and implement this concept. A Leadership Council of SGU and USGS staff has been established to guide and oversee implementation of the memorandum of understanding. USGS Contact: Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,; Sinte Gleska Contact: James Rattling Leaf, 605-856-4262,

Flandreau Indian School Partnership. Flandreau Indian School (FIS) is funded through the BIA. The school boards and educates 350 students in grades 9-12 from Tribes west of the Mississippi. The school was established in 1871 and is 30 miles north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The FIS and the USGS' EROS Data Center (EDC) created a formal partnership in 1998. Under the agreement, the USGS/EDC provides the school with resources to improve the quality of education in earth and physical sciences, mathematics, and computer science. During the year, 35 teachers came to EDC for teacher in-service training and students toured the facility to learn about technologies and how they are used in daily life. The USGS also supported the school by transferring surplus equipment and providing technical assistance to the computer staff at the school. The school superintendent met with EDC representatives to plan new activities for the partnership. Contact: Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Model Institutions of Excellence (MIE) Advisory Board. Oglala Lakota College (OLC) is an accredited institution offering baccalaureate and master's degrees on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. It is a member of the Oyate Consortium, a group of five colleges and universities in the Dakotas that share educational goals, some faculty and staff, and technologies. OLC has about 1,400 students enrolled in courses at nine locations on the Pine Ridge Reservation. The USGS a is member of the OLC advisory board to their National Science Foundation's Model Institutions of Excellence (MIE) program. The goal of the MIE program is to develop curricula and encourage Native American students in math, science, engineering, and technology at the undergraduate and master's levels. The USGS helps OLC develop strategies that will attract students to these courses and encourage them to focus on graduation and graduate studies. Offering students the option of staying on the Reservation while continuing their formal education makes it likely that more students will chose to stay in college. Once students complete their formal education, they may apply the skills learned on the Reservation to enhance Native American economic development, health, and culture. Contact: Daniel Fitzpatrick, 605-355-4560x220,

Lights May Disrupt Beneficial Insects. The USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, in cooperation with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and Kearney, and the U.S. Forest Service, supported research by a teacher at Little Wound High School, in Kyle, South Dakota. The teacher employed two Native American students to trap carrion beetles. The sampling took place on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and was conducted by Oglala Tribal members. Carrion beetles, including the Federally-protected American burying beetle, are an important group of insect recyclers. Based on the sampling, the investigators demonstrated a significant reduction in numbers and kinds of carrion beetles beneath mercury vapor yard lights. This is the first study to demonstrate an effect of light on this insect group and after a second year of data are collected, a manuscript will be prepared. These data will be presented at the 2002 meeting of the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America by one of the Native Americans involved in the study. Beyond the immediate outcome of hands-on field experience, one of the students developed a beetle taxonomy exercise for use in the high school classroom. Contact: W. Wyatt Hoback, 308 865-8602,; Terry L. Shaffer, 701-253-5522,

Native Students Hired by the Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center. A Native American student from the Prairie Band of Potowatomi Nation was hired by the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center in mid-September 2001. The student was hired as an intern through Western Wisconsin Technical College in La Crosse, Wisconsin, to help with graphics and assist with care of animals used in school interaction. In addition, a Native American of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe was hired as an Administrative Operations Assistant in June 2001. Contact: Linda M. Ott, 608-781-6264,

Coordinating with Haskell Indian Nations University. The USGS established and maintained a GIS lab at Haskell Indian Nations University (Haskell) and has employees who have taught or assisted in many classes over the last decade. The USGS, through the Kansas Water Resources District Office, provides advice to Haskell on Natural Resources curriculum issues as a member of Haskell's Natural Resources Advisory Board. Representatives of the USGS visited Haskell as part of a broad effort to encourage natural science education and increase personnel diversity within the USGS. The USGS recruitment team and the Kansas District have participated in Haskell's career fairs. Several Haskell students have been hired for student positions by the Kansas District and USGS/EROS Data Center. A USGS field office is maintained on the Haskell Campus. Contact: Walt Aucott, 785-832-3505,; Maria Montour, 303-236-2787, or Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Science Career Opportunities for Native Americans. The USGS Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center in Montana launched a series of presentations to Native American students on "Science as a Career" in Fiscal Year 2001. They included five presentations at the Northern Cheyenne Tribal School in Busby, Montana, and a presentation to American Indian students in the Montana State University-Bozeman Native American Studies Unit - "Gear Up Program." This program helps Native American middle school students understand the benefits of staying in school and going to college. The USGS Center plans to continue outreach efforts to Native American students and teachers in FY2002, and to develop internet-based natural science information and associated learning tools for use by Native American schools through distance learning in conjunction with Montana State University. Contact: David Madril, 406-994-4293,

Coal, Health, and the Navajo Nation. Domestic use of coal for heating and cooking has led to human health problems in many parts of the world. USGS geologists have documented the effects on health of domestic coal use as well as environmental concerns of industrial coal use in foreign countries. Many families on the Navajo Nation use coal domestically, and live near and may work in coal mines and coal-burning power plants. USGS scientists are interested in collaborating on an epidemiological study of the Navajo Nation to examine those health effects. The primary issue is assessing the health impacts of residential coal combustion on Navajo lands. A secondary issue is the environmental impact of coal-burning power plants near the reservation. As part of their project development, USGS scientists presented several workshops at the Navajo Nation's Diné College and for the Navajo Nation's Uranium Education Program. These activities were well received and a team of local geologists, atmospheric scientists, and epidemiologists are working with the USGS on the project. The USGS is preparing a proposal to the Indian Research Council to obtain permission for the study of the Shiprock area. Contact: Bob Finkelman, 703-648-6412,

Satellite Imagery Enhances Native American Curriculum. USGS satellite imagery and aerial photography will be used by Native American students at the Native American Agriscience Research and Development Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico, to study past and present impacts of the Cochiti Dam on their cultures and economies. The satellite images and aerial photos provide an overview, historical perspective, and foundation for curriculum development combining Native American traditions and USGS technology. Contact: Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

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 Dowa Yalanne Elementary School in Zuni, New Mexico. Students from Tonalea Day School and Dowa Yalanne Elementary School toured the astrogeology research facilities at the USGS Flagstaff Field Center. Solar system activities and materials were presented at a NASA/JPL community science night designed to introduce Native American students and their families to the wonders of science. The USGS also provided educational materials, curriculum enhancements, and posters to Shonto Preparatory School. Contact: Sue Priest, 928-556-7148,

Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) and the USGS, through its support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) are conducting quarterly satellite broadcasts from SIPI for participating Tribal colleges and universities. The broadcasts entitled "GIS in Indian Country," have been popular with students and faculty. They provide a good connection to the Indian community, a means of including field work in the curriculum, and an excellent school-to-career opportunity. The facilities at SIPI's Distance Learning Center continue to improve, allowing the camera to focus on maps, documents, and computer displays as well as the presenter. These broadcasts are dedicated to promoting Tribal self-sufficiency by improving management of geographic information and building intertribal communication networks. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Explorer's Club-Outdoor Science Education Outreach On San Diego County Reservations. A retired USGS scientist has channeled her enthusiasm for earth science education into an outreach project for Indian Tribes in southern California. Working in partnership with the Tribes, the USGS, San Diego State University, the University of California at San Diego, and the San Diego Science Alliance, she has expanded a series of successful outdoor science activities originally developed under USGS auspices into a set of "Explorer's Club" programs for children age 6 to 12. The format of each program can be adapted to suit the needs of the Education Director of each Tribe. Tribal elders participate as program instructors. Most Tribes use education funding to pay for lunches, and a van and driver. The monthly programs include activities such as panning for gold and magnetite, discovering where rocks come from, investigating what people add to local waterways, and climbing a local landscape feature. To date, children from the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Indians, the Jamul Band of Mission Indians, and the La Jolla Tribe have participated in the programs. USGS employees donated personal funds for individual science kits (pen, notebook, magnifying lens, magic marker, ruler, magnet, eye dropper, glass vial), fanny packs, and water bottles for program participants. Contact: Eleanora I. (Norrie) Robbins, 619-303-9095,

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 an emerging neurologic disease, avian vacuolar myelinopathy, that is infecting bald eagles and coots in the southeastern United States. Two field installations are cooperating in studying the problem. The National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) funded research conducted by a Native American student (Washoe-Paiute) in a degree program at Cornell University. Using wild coots and game farm mallads to monitor the disease in North Carolina lakes, the student compared food habits of affected birds and birds without the disease. The student's research is closely coordinated with other investigations being conducted by NWHC scientists. This work will further efforts to identify the source and causes of avian vacuolar myelinopathy. Contact: New York Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 607-255-2836,; Tonie Rocke, 608-270-2451,

Alaska Native Internship Program. The USGS collaborates with other Department of the Interior bureaus in Alaska and the University of Alaska Anchorage to maintain 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 hosted two interns during the summer of 2001. 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,

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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