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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 2002

Contents | Tribes | Organizations | States | Intro | Highlights | Education | Resource and Environmental | Technical | General Coordination and Policy | Future | USGS Contacts

Educational Activities

National Indian Education Association. The USGS expanded its involvement in the annual conferences of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA)by holding workshops for educators. 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. USGS and Sinte Gleska University jointly sponsored an exhibit booth at both the October 2001 conference in Billings, Montana and the November 2002 conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Contact: Eugene Napier (exhibit), 605-594-6088,; Joseph Kerski (workshop), 303-202-4315,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal GIS and Metadata Training for American Indians. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (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 15 American Indian students at each annual session. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Introduction to Metadata and GIS Courses for American Indian Conservation Professionals. The USGS, through its support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 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, metadata, 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. Training is held at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Water-Quality Workshop for Maine Tribes. The USGS Maine Water Resources District conducted a two-day introductory water-quality workshop, held at the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Tribal headquarters in Houlton, Maine during July 2002. The Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Passamaquoddy, and Houlton Band of Maliseet Tribes were represented. Day 1 included an introduction and overview of the environmental database developed for the Penobscot Indian Nation, discussion of the purpose and site-selection criteria for water-quality data collection, discussion of quality-control and quality-assurance criteria, and discussion of field forms and the requisite information they should contain. Day 2 included discussions of basic water-quality instrumentation (dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, pH and temperature), the merits of Winkler titrations versus dissolved oxygen sensors for dissolved oxygen determinations, and demonstrations of Winkler and alkalinity titrations. Day 2 also included a field trip to a site on the Meduxnekeag River for instruction in calibrating and using water-quality sensors and multi-probes, protocol for measuring field parameters, and filling out field forms. Upon returning from the field trip, workshop participants were instructed on how to enter water-quality data into the environmental database developed for the Penobscot Indian Nation (workshop participants were provided with copies of and the instruction manual for the database, with concurrence of the Penobscots). The workshop concluded with a question-and-discussion period followed by a course evaluation questionnaire. Given the responses in the questionnaire, next year plans are to expand the course to include standard colorimetric methods for nutrient determinations and chlorophyll-a measurements. Contact: Robert Lent, 207-622-8201,

La Crosse, Wisconsin, Native American Students. A representative of the USGS' Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center (UMESC) has contacted the coordinator of liaisons for Native American, Asian, and African American students for the School District of La Crosse (Wisconsin) to arrange a meeting with the liaisons, two of whom are new to the program. Discussions will be held to showcase the Center's educational resources and how these resources could benefit Native American and other diverse students. Contact: Mike Dewey, 608-781-6206,

Coordinating with Haskell Indian Nations University. The USGS, through the Kansas Water Resources District Office, established and maintained a GIS lab at Haskell Indian Nations University (Haskell). This program reached a successful conclusion in Fiscal Year 2002, when the GIS equipment was transferred to Haskell that has the capability to use and maintain it. Contact: Walt Aucott, 785-832-3505,

Water-Resources Training for Chippewa Cree. The USGS Montana Water resource Disctrict conducted a 3-day workshop for water-resources technicians of the Chippewa Cree Tribe of the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation. The seven technicians who attended were introduced to the principles of hydrologic data collection and computation techniques. Contact: Norman Midtlyng, 406-457-5900,

Water Technician Training Course. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsored its annual Water Technician Training Course sessions at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, and at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks, Alaska. Tribal representatives from throughout Indian Country, including Alaska, participated in the course with about 30 students participating in the New Mexico session. The 5-week earth sciences course utilized instructors from several Federal agencies and academia. USGS personnel taught a 4-day module titled, "Introduction to Hydrologic Data Collection Techniques." USGS instructors were provided by the Alaska and New Mexico Water Resources Districts, along with active and retired USGS scientists from the Washington Water Resources Science Center. Instruction included classroom and field activities on ground-water concepts and data collection, surface-water data collection, and water-quality data collection. The New Mexico session is coordinated by New Mexico State University. Contact: Edward (Nick) Nickerson (New Mexico), 505-646-7618,; Robert Kimbrough (Washington and Alaska), 253-428-3600 ext.2608,

National States GIS Council (NSGIC). In cooperation with the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the National States GIS Council (NSGIC) plans and develops regional Tribal-State workshops with the USGS, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Intertribal GIS Council (IGC), and other Tribal entities. The workshops teach GIS and metadata usage for the governing bodies to use in their planning processes. In August 2002, the Bureau of Land Management hosted a NSGIC Tribal-State Federal meeting in Billings, Montana. Workshops and discussions were held on the availability of metadata, who is using what data and methods, how to partner to share data and GIS expertise, solutions to developing effective partnerships to better communicate data requirements, opportunities for more cost sharing, and strategies for building stable, effective GIS programs. Eleven American Indian Tribal governments and the States of Montana and Washington participated along with the Federal representatives. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,; Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Sinte Gleska GIS Lab. USGS personnel are working with Sinte Gleska University (SGU) to develop a sustained SGU laboratory for geographic information systems research and applications. The effort has two primary components: programmatic development and infrastructure development. Programmatic development involves identifying spatial analysis needs within the Rosebud Sioux community and defining pilot projects with groups such as the Rosebud Sioux Tribal housing authority, the Tribal Land Enterprise, and University constituents. The second component, infrastructure development, addresses the physical infrastructure such as computers and networking, data needs, and human resource development (training, internships, staff exchanges, and workshops). Significant accomplishments in Fiscal Year 2002 include developing a work plan, conducting training sessions in the use of global positioning systems (GPS) methods for field data collection and organization, and conducting ESRI-certified ARCVIEW training. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Geographic Information Systems Workshop for Sinte Gleska University Students Training to Become Geography Teachers. In August 2002, a USGS geographer, conducted a 2-day GIS workshop at Sinte Gleska University for educators who were taking a geography-teaching course. Through the use of GIS, teachers and students had the opportunity to investigate real-world data in a problem-solving environment, utilizing the same tools and techniques that Tribal planners, wildlife biologists, and other professionals use on the job. Contact: Joseph Kerski, 303-202-4315,

Oglala Lakota College Advisory Board. Oglala Lakota College (OLC) is an accredited 4-year college 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. Oglala Lakota College is participating in the National Science Foundation's Model Institutions of Excellence (MIE) program to build curricula to train an increasing number of students in mathematics, science, engineering, and technology (MSET). As a member of the OLC-MIE advisory board, the USGS has been invited to help identify courses and faculty for the curricula, and internship and job possibilities for the students. OLC has a special interest in developing curricula to teach the analytical chemistry of water samples because the Oglala Sioux Tribe is planning a new facility at Pine Ridge to process several thousand water samples collected on reservations each year. Offering students the option of staying on the Reservation while continuing their formal education makes it likely that more students will choose to stay in college. Once they complete their formal education, they may apply the skills learned on the Reservation to enhance Native American economic development, health, and culture. The USGS is working with OLC to develop internships with the National Water Quality Laboratory, Fort Collins Science Center, and other offices to provide training, mentoring and on-the-job experience for OLC students in scientific fields. USGS contacts: Douglas Posson, 970-226-9398,; Dan Fitzpatrick, 605-355-4560, ext. 220,; Greg Mohrman, 303-236-7500,; OLC contact: Stacy Phelps, 605-455-6001

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute. 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. These broadcasts are dedicated to promoting Tribal self-sufficiency by improving management of geographic information and building intertribal communication networks while maintaining national standards of data quality through the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Endangered Species Training for Tribes and BIA. In May 2002, an ecologist at the USGS Southwest Biological Science Center assisted the Bureau of Indian Affairs with a training session on techniques for surveying the endangered southwestern willow flycatcher. The training session, held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, included biologists from more than a dozen southwestern Tribes and Pueblos. Lectures were presented on the status, distribution, ecology, and habitat use of the flycatcher. The USGS scientist also lead a field trip to known flycatcher breeding sites along the Rio Grande. Contact: Mark Sogge, 928-556-7466 ext. 232,

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. As is the case with the general public, many Native Americans are not aware of the relationship of soil crust to an ecosystem. In addition, soil crusts on lands of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and the Navajo Nation have suffered significant damage from grazing animals. In 2002, USGS scientists completed and distributed a curriculum that integrates biological and earth sciences for Ute and Navajo grade school students. The curriculum is focused 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 knowledge that is being gained through USGS research on soil crusts to the next generation of land stewards. The curriculum for Indian students will engage them in the workings of basic scientific concepts. Through this study of biology and earth science as it relates to their local environment, students will be encouraged to further their education in these disciplines and to consider careers in resource management. This project of the USGS Canyonlands Field Station is intended to inspire students to bring their expertise to the community as resource managers, ranchers, and better-informed community members. Contact: Jayne Belnap, 435-719-2333,; Tim Graham, 435-719-2339,

Educational Outreach to Native American Children. The USGS Flagstaff Field Center provided several educational presentations on geology to school groups visiting Flagstaff primarily from the Navajo Nation. The Solar System program was presented to students from Pinon Elementary and Tonalea Day School. A maps and mapping program was presented to students from Rocky Ridge School. The rocks and minerals program was presented to students from Rough Rock High School. Students from Tonalea Day School also learned about volcanoes. Contact: Sue Priest, 928-556-7148,

Coordination with the Navajo Nation. USGS staff from the Arizona District held outreach meetings with the Navajo Nation on educational assistance in support of the Nation's energy programs. They also cooperated with the Navajo Water Resources Department and the University of Arizona in support of graduate students. Contact: Christopher Smith, 520-670-6671 ext. 251,

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. The programs include activities such as panning for gold and magnetite, collecting rocks, coring soil, and learning outdoor photographic techniques. Water-related activities are particularly important to help the students understand water issues in their semi-arid area that has suffered four years of drought. For Earth Science/National Water Monitoring Week, a scientist from the USGS Water Resources Discipline's California District, San Diego Office joined the team to teach Native American children how to measure parameters such as pH, temperature, water clarity, and oxygen content. Equipment from prior USGS funding was shared with children from the Campo Band and the Pala Band of Mission Indians, and from the Jamul Indian Village. Contact: Eleanora I. (Norrie) Robbins, 619-303-9095,

Alaska Native Internship Program. The USGS Alaska Science Center 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 one intern during the summer of 2002. Contact: Steven Frenzel, 907-786-7100,

Marine Science Opportunities. The USGS Alaska Science Center Glacier Bay Field Station continued a student internship (Student Career Education Program) in 2002 with a member of the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. She hopes that her experiences conducting natural resource research will inspire other Alaska Natives to pursue science careers. 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. She will complete her graduate education in 2003. Contact: Philip Hooge, 907-786-3512,

Science Education Outreach. A fisheries biologist from the USGS Alaska Science Center, attended the April 2002 Career Day Fair in Minto Village, a remote village about 100 miles west of Fairbanks, Alaska. Tanana Chiefs Conference Youth Opportunities Program and the Minto School District sponsored the event. Students learned about opportunities and careers as fish and wildlife biologists with the USGS. In addition, the USGS scientist met with upper class students (grades 9-12) at the Minto School to give a presentation on his USGS Yukon River salmon research program and on other scientific studies at the USGS Alaska Science Center. Contact: Jim Finn, USGS Alaska Science Center, 907-786-3450,

Native Alaskan Internship Program. A USGS fisheries biologist continued an internship program in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska during the summer of 2002 to recruit Native Alaskans into the field of fisheries science. Six students from Newhalen, Nondalton, and Port Alsworth, Alaska, learned what it was like to be a fish biologist. Three of the students were also part of the 2001 intern program. The students learned how to count migrating adult salmon, capture, anaesthetize and radio-tag salmon, track them to their final spawning destinations, and collect, measure, and record data. The USGS coordinated this internship program in partnership with the National Park Service at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Plans are being developed to recruit more teens into the program as a way of encouraging Native Alaskans to pursue a college degree and to consider a career in science. Contact: Carol Woody, 907-786-3512,

Alaskan Natives Learn the Science of Ecosystems. In September 2002, students from Native Alaskan villages on the Alaska Peninsula attended a science field camp at Becharof National Wildlife Refuge. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bristol Bay Borough, and the Lake and Peninsula Borough sponsor the camp. The students 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: Tom Smith, 907-786-3512,

Yupik 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, the USGS recruited 22 Yupik Eskimo students in 2002 to assist in a waterfowl study on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. 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, multi-year study to determine annual survival rates, migration pathways, and important staging and winter habitats. The year 2002 marks the 17th consecutive year of involvement by Alaska Native students from the Native village of Chevak in this project: More than 160 Native youths have participated in this program since 1986. This effort supports a regional need for information on the population biology of a species of interest to indigenous people, wildlife enthusiasts, and sport hunters. Contact: Craig Ely, 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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