USGS Office of Tribal Relations
Building tribal management capabilities through technical training is an effective way to share our science. Requests for funding such training always exceed the funds available to the Native American Tribal Liaisons team. Tribes are increasingly interested in receiving training on water monitoring, since water is an issue throughout Indian Country. As water use increases, water issues are likely to become even more important. For the past 18 years, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has run a Water Technician Training course in New Mexico. USGS has taught the "Basic Hydrologic Principles" part of that course. The Native American activity budget pays for USGS Water Mission Area staff time and the course materials of our session. Some USGS Water Science Centers have provided water-quality-monitoring training at the request of tribes. Tribal biologists are eager for training on specific wildlife issues. USGS biologists have provided short courses on wildlife health. These short courses were usually held in conjunction with Native American conferences to maximize participation and minimize costs. An unfunded opportunity was continuing a partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency to provide partly digital/partly hand's on training on water monitoring. In past fiscal years, funds have supported USGS design and conduct of technical training for Tribal employees. The funds may be used to cover USGS employee salaries, travel, and materials, among other purposes. Training sessions may involve external partners, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, BIA, or Tribal organizations.
During Fiscal Year 2006, the USGS began developing a new Tribal relations training course for its employees. The purpose of the training is to facilitate interactions with Tribes by informing USGS employees about the unique aspects of Tribal sovereignty; laws, regulations, and policies relating to Native Americans, as well as cultural issues that may affect collaboration. Native Americans, some of whom are USGS employees and others who are invited guests, describe their experiences and perspectives. A panel that includes USGS scientists will discuss successful approaches to cooperative Tribal relations. A team of subject matter experts from all USGS regions and headquarters designed the training. The Office of Employee Development partnered with the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians and other bureaus (National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management) and agencies (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Agriculture) to capitalize on best practices, curriculum, and instructors.