USGS Office of Tribal Relations
Information is a resource for Native American governments, communities, organizations, and people. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides technical expertise, reports, and other impartial information sources that benefit Native Americans interested in subsistence issues, water, land use, and the health of many parts of the environment. Native self-sufficiency, economic development, and conservation are cultivated through Native decisions informed with USGS data and analyses.
The USGS works in cooperation with American Indian and Alaska Native governments, conducting 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, streamflow, biota, and other topics are available to American Indian and Alaska Native individuals and 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 2002. Some of these USGS activities were carried out in concert with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Others were conducted by Tribes, Tribal organizations, professional societies, and the USGS.
A growing number of Tribal governments, educational institutions, and other Tribal organizations have begun using geographic information systems and other digital technologies in recent years. As Tribes become more interested in and more adept at managing digital information, they are seeking relevant data from the USGS more frequently. Using digital technologies provides Tribal governments with 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 also recognizes that Tribal institutions have varying needs, interests, and capacities. The USGS strives to be sensitive to the unique circumstances of each of these institutions while supporting their self-driven evolution.
The USGS is responding to these needs by increasing the transfer of scientific information to American Indian and Alaska Native governments and by training employees of those governments to conduct scientific studies and improve scientific data management. 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, as described in this report, there are several types of USGS activities that involve American Indians, Alaska Natives, and their lands.
One type of activity is the course of formal studies, conducted through existing USGS programs, that involves collection of specific types of data as well as investigative and research projects. These projects typically last 2 or 3 years, although a few are parts of longer-term activities. Some projects are funded through cooperative agreements, from monies provided to the USGS by individual Tribal governments, or by the 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 BIA are cooperating to use USGS information resources to benefit American Indian and Alaska 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 one or more USGS employees identifying and responding to an observed need. In these activities, USGS employees help fulfill a mission of the USGS--to prove scientific relevance--while helping their fellow citizens. Increasingly, some of the educational activities are becoming parts of formal USGS projects.
USGS employees have also taken the initiative in assisting American Indians and Alaska Natives through participation in several organizations that were created to foster awareness 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, 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. The USGS has a regional organizational structure, with Western, Central, and Eastern Regions. The regions work in concert with specific scientific disciplines to conduct the scientific mission of the USGS. The regional structure is intended to bring us closer to our customers; we hope that Native Americans and Alaska Natives will use the contacts listed at the end of this report.
How to use this report: In the following pages, diverse USGS activities related to American Indians and Native Alaskans are grouped into several categories: Highlights of Fiscal Year 2002; Educational Activities; Resource Activities; Technical Assistance; General Coordination, and; Future Opportunities. If you find an interesting activity that you think might be appropriate to undertake in your area, contact the person(s) listed to learn how the activity was carried out. Ask for suggestions as to who in the USGS could assist you in setting up a similar activity in your area. If in doubt as to how to proceed, contact the USGS employees listed on the inside of the back cover. Within the USGS, this report will help staff develop outreach, educational, and program documents for future use. It is hoped that USGS employees, American Indians, and Alaska Natives will adapt these activities in new settings and will use the USGS contacts to expand the relevance of the USGS to more Americans.
This document was prepared compiled by Susan Marcus, USGS American Indian/Alaska Native Liaison in cooperation with the Regional and Discipline Liaisons:
A general point of contact is Susan Marcus, Director's Office, 703-648-4437; firstname.lastname@example.org
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.