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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 1998

Table of Contents | Tribal Governments | Organizations/Events | States | Introduction | Education | Environment | Resources | Technical Assistance | General Coordination and Policy | Future Opportunities | Contacts |

Educational Activities

The U.S. Geological Survey has worked independently and in support of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to improve natural science education for American Indian and Alaska Native students. Implementing the Memorandum of Agreement, signed by the Assistant Secretary, Water and Science, and the Assistant Secretary, Indian Affairs in October 1996, has encompassed many diverse activities. Notable educational achievements are described below.

Tribal Colleges and Universities Executive Order. Implementation of Executive Order 13021, Tribal Colleges and Universities will be lead by the U.S. Department of Education. This Executive Order focuses attention on the responsibilities of Federal agencies to work with Tribal colleges and universities and makes these educational institutions comparable with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The USGS is participating in the Department of the Interior's implementation of the Order. The USGS works closely with Haskell Indian Nations University while the Bureau of Reclamation is doing the same with the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). The USGS and the Bureau of Reclamation staffs met to discuss ways to support these two institutions without duplicating efforts or overextending available resources. USGS staff visited SIPI, in Albuquerque, NM. In meeting with the Assistant to the SIPI President and the Science Program Coordinator, the USGS sought to understand the needs of SIPI and the mutually beneficial opportunities that can provide be developed. As a result of the meeting, the USGS provided excess furniture and scientific equipment to SIPI. Additionally, the USGS has begun a project to collect information on facilities at Tribal colleges that could be rented for Departmental or bureau conferences. USGS offices will work with Tribal colleges to identify specific, technical areas for cooperation. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Technology Literacy Challenge Grant Review. The Bureau of Indian Affairs distributed $1 million in Technology Challenge Grants to Indian schools in 1998. The schools submitted competitive proposals to the BIA. The proposals detailed how the Indian school or consortium of schools would use a share of the funds to acquire technology and training to enhance the learning environment. The National Science Foundation and the USGS provided people to review proposals and make recommendations to the BIA on which proposals ranked the highest. The top proposals were then funded by the BIA. See the additional item, below, on further USGS assistance that has come from this program.

Year 1997 1998
Proposals submitted 44 15
Proposals recommended 5 (14)* 3

*In 1997, a consortium of 9 schools submitted 1 proposal, so a total of 14 schools benefitted from the funds.

USGS Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Minority Scholarships. The American Chemical Society and the American Geological Institute separately award scholarships to minority students to encourage these students to pursue university degrees in science. An American Indian employee of the USGS is a member of the American Chemical Society's Minority Scholarship Selection Committee and the American Geological Institute's Minority Scholarship Committee. Her work on these committees included evaluating scholarship applications and selecting the best qualified applicants. Two USGS employees are permanent members of the American Geological Institute's Minority Participation Advisory Council. Contact: Maria Montour, 303-236-2787,

Continuing Progress with EdNet. The Bureau of Indian Affairs' Office of Indian Education (OIEP) is conducting an exciting project called "Access Native America." The project has three parts: (1) school connectivity to the Internet; (2) education management; and most importantly, (3) school classroom applications. The U.S. Geological Survey continues to work with the BIA to link BIA-supported Indian schools through the EdNet program. There are approximately 185 primary and secondary schools funded by the OIEP for American Indian children. By August 1998, more that 40 elementary and secondary schools and 6 Tribal colleges had been connected to the Internet and the World Wide Web. The USGS is providing the technical wide-area network (WAN) expertise to connect each of these schools to the DOINET/Internet. The USGS is also assisting the BIA train help teachers and other educators to use this vast system, which also includes e-mail communications. The schools use these digital resources to assist Indian students, reduce the isolation, and expand the information available, particularly in remote locations. Many Indian schools are in remote locations where Net access permits "virtual trips" to libraries and museums. Several schools have created their own Web pages. Indian students are also have improved communications with other American Indians. Contact: Tim Lee, 303-236-4955,

Providing Role Models. An American Indian employee of the USGS was an invited speaker at Mount Holyoke College in March 1998, entitled "Minority Women in Science - a Native Perspective." This talk focused on common workplace issues that pertain to minorities and women in general, as well as workplace issues that are specific to American Indian female scientists. Contact: Maria Montour, 303-236-2787,

Native American Science Fair. Each year, the USGS provides scientific experts as judges for the Annual Native American Science and Engineering Fair held in Albuquerque, and sponsored by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. Contact: Florian Maldonado, 303-236-1281,

National Indian Education Association. The USGS participated in the National Indian Education Association annual conference in Tacoma, Washington. Sharing an exhibit booth with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the USGS distributed water posters and other educational information to teachers and students. This was the second year of USGS participation in this event, which is the largest convention of Indian elementary and secondary educators. In 1996, the Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretaries of Water and Science and of Indian Affairs announced an agreement to improve science education for American Indian students at the National Indian Education Association meeting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

High School Biologists. Cooperating with the Inter-Tribal Council of Louisiana, the USGS' National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette, Louisiana, hired two high school students as biological science aids. The students, members of the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana, assisted USGS biologists and learned field procedures for routine biological data gathering. Contact: National Wetlands Research Center, 318-266-8501,

Water Resources Technician Training. A dozen Native Americans completed a 1-week training session, "Introduction to Hydrologic Data Collection and Computation Techniques" in Las Cruces, New Mexico, June 8-12,1998. Another 12 completed a similar offering in Fairbanks, Alaska, July 13-17,1998, and 13 from 11 Tribes received training under this annual program on August 24-28, 1998 in Ellensburg, Washington.

The training opportunities, each part of separate 6-week "Water Resources Technician Training Program" sponsored by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, were organized and led by USGS hydrologists and USGS Volunteers for Science. The USGS classroom and field sessions focused on fundamental concepts in collecting and analyzing surface-water, ground-water, water-quality, and sediment data. Students were exposed to hydrologic theory. Hands-on activities included practical concepts such as streamflow measurements, ground-water level measurements, and sample collection of sediment and water-quality constituents for subsequent analyses. The teacher/student ratio of approximately 1:4. This is conducive to providing each student with the basic skills to apply to water-resources investigations to assist Indian governments manage their resources and it helps participants develop marketable skills. Contact: John Gray, 703-648-5318, or, for the New Mexico session, Linda Weiss, 505-262-5300, or, for the Washington session, Tom Zembrzuski, 253-428-3600 x2608,

Water Resources Outreach Program, Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. The purpose of this project is to develop a water-resource program that will be presented to the students on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation. The USGS and the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa's Department of Natural Resources are developing this program for the Band's fifth grade students. By stimulating interest and encouraging students to actively participate in the water-resources program, USGS and Tribal employees hope to create a solid foundation for a lifetime of awareness and knowledge of their water resources that will benefit them and their community in the future.

A water festival-type program was presented to 12 classes of fifth graders. Hands-on activities helped the students learn about ground water, water quality, the water cycle, surface water, and point and non-point source pollution. The USGS also prepared a school calendar that included all the known school activities, and featuring kids enjoying the water resources of Belcourt Lake. Months are named in English and Chippewa. Each month challenges students with a water resource question. Answers are provided on the following month's page. Contact: Kathleen M. Rowland, 701-250-7418,

Promoting American Indian Science Education through South Dakota State University. The USGS' South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit continued to participate in a South Dakota State University program titled "2+2+2" to help more American Indian students prepare for careers in the agricultural and biological sciences. The "2+2+2" is a team effort between high schools, Tribal colleges, and South Dakota State University. Options for study range from environmental management to food science to wildlife and fisheries. Each "two" of the "2+2+2" represents two years in high school, Tribal college, and the State University. The program's goal is to have all these "2s" add up to a brighter future for American Indians. Contact: South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, 605-688-6121,

Partnership with Indian School. Partnerships between USGS offices and individual schools is an approach that is being implemented in South Dakota, between the Flandreau Indian School and the USGS' EROS Data Center. The Flandreau Indian School (located on the Flandreau Santee Sioux Reservation) and the USGS' EROS Data Center signed a memorandum of understanding to codify their joint goals. The Data Center has conducted a hands-on workshop for Flandreau teachers using remotely sensed data and Data Center computers. Teachers were also introduced to the GLOBE program that can get teachers involved in United States space missions. A mentoring/shadowing program has begun to bring students to the Center, giving them positive role models. One student has now become interested in a career in science. More than $140,000 in excess USGS equipment and furniture has been donated to the school. The Data Center is also exploring the possibility of expanding its partnerships to include other Indian schools.

The Flandreau Indian School (FIS) received a $40,000 grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This was a direct response to an article about the USGS partnership in the Department of the Interior's "People, Land, and Water" publication. This money will allow a satellite dish to be put up on the grounds of the FIS and will enable them to have free Internet access. The new technology will improve USGS' communications with them as well. Contact: Mark Barber, 605-594-6176, or Carrie Jucht, 605-594-6083,

Anniversary Celebration. The EROS Data Center had its 25th anniversary celebration on September 19, 1998. The Flandreau Indian School "Indian Club" danced and sang as one of the featured performers during the festivities. This beautiful activity was a result of the USGS partnership with the Flandreau Indian School and helped portray the partnership to those in the USGS who may not have been aware of it. Contact: Carrie Jucht, 605-594-6083,

Training in Fisheries Management. In Fiscal Year 1998, the USGS' South Dakota Cooperative Research Unit coordinated research of a graduate student who was hired as a full-time fishery biologist by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. The Tribe had expressed interest in such an arrangement during previous work with USGS while fish and aquatic habitat information was being collected on the Reservation. USGS Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units often sponsor the graduate education of students in natural resource management. As a result of contacts made in providing services to Tribes, these students often find positions with Tribal governments. Contact: South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, 605-688-6121,

Hydrology and GIS Training Program at Haskell Indian Nations University. The USGS provides part-time salary support for a Natural Resources Instructor for the Haskell Indian Nations University. A USGS hydrologist also assisted in teaching GIS and water-quality concepts in ecology and other science laboratory classes at the University. The USGS provides advice on natural resources curriculum issues as a member of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center Advisory Board. Additionally, the USGS participated in the annual career fair at Haskell. The USGS personnel in Kansas are currently seeking to place several Haskell students in part time and summer positions throughout the USGS. Contact: Thomas Trombley, 913-832-3551,

USGS in Montana Employs Indian College Students. The USGS, in concert with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, hired two students from the Salish Kootenai College to conduct hydrologic studies with USGS scientists on Indian lands. The students gained practical field experience that will be pertinent to their potential careers in hydrology, while USGS had capable field assistance to conduct its mandated activities.

The students spent approximately 80 per cent of their time in the field, primarily on surface-water activities where they learned to make discharge measurements and entered data into a computer data base. Additionally, one student assisted in collecting ground-water samples, while the other assisted in drilling and logging test wells. Contact: Mark S. Gerl, 406-441-1319,

Mentoring Isleta student. The scientific research of a graduate student from the Pueblo of Isleta was supported by the USGS New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. She studied exotic ungulates (non-native hoofed animals) in southern New Mexico, using telemetry. The student completed the requirements for an Master of Science degree at New Mexico State University. Contact: New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 505-646-6053,

Graduate Student Sponsorship. The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) and the USGS' Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit work together to provide opportunities for graduate students. In Fiscal Year 1998, the supported a Native American graduate student's research on bighorn sheep, culminating in a graduate thesis under the sponsorship of the Cooperative Research Unit. Contact: New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 505-646-6053,

Duckwater School. The Duckwater-Shoshone Elementary Indian School, in Duckwater, Nevada, is a small, relatively remote school serving the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe. This school was considered very worthy of additional computer technology by the USGS and National Academy of Science reviewers who evaluated proposals for BIA technology grants. Although the Duckwater School was not awarded a grant, the USGS contacted the school staff to determine what technology would be welcomed. The USGS transferred excess computer equipment to the school. This will help the students and school staff while effectively recycling excess USGS equipment. The USGS conducted a similar excess property transfer to White Mountain Apache schools on the Fort Apache Reservation. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Cooperation with the University of Arizona to Train American Indian Students for Careers in Fishery and Wildlife Biology. The USGS Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit continues to support a natural resource training program for American Indians who are recommended by Tribal Councils or individual Tribal members. The most important criteria for enrolling in the program is a desire to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree in wildlife or fisheries management at the University of Arizona. Three students from the Navajo Nation and five from the White Mountain Apache Tribe are currently participating in the program. Nineteen American Indians have completed the program: twelve received Bachelor of Science degrees, six have completed or are working in Masters's programs, and one has completed a Doctorate. Highlights of the program in 1998 include:

Two members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe graduated with Bachelor degrees. One began a career with the Tribe's Game and Fish Department and the second entered the University's Master's degree program in Natural Resources Policy.

Two additional White Mountain Apache students are participating in the program under Cooperative Education Agreements with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. One is enrolled in a Masters program in wildlife biology and the other will complete a Bachelor degree in fisheries.

A student from the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Indian of New Jersey and the Delaware Tribe of Western Oklahoma completed a Master's degree and was placed with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge in Douglas, Arizona.

One of the three Navajo Nation students is graduating from the program. This person will be receive a Bachelor's degree and will return to work with the Tribe as a wildlife biologist.

Contact: Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 520-621-1959,

Graduate Studies in Fisheries. The USGS' Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Oregon State University sponsored the graduate work of a Tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The student will receive a Master of Science degree in fisheries biology. Contact: Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 541-737-1938,

Expertise at Environmental Field Camp. In May 1998, a USGS researcher was an instructor at the USFW Challenge Cost Share-Funded Becharof Ecosystem Environmental Science Field Camp. Students from very isolated, and predominantly Alaska Native, communities gathered to learn about the various components comprising the Becharof National Wildlife Refuge. This public outreach is intended to give high school seniors, primarily Native Alaskans, exposure to ecosystem science while providing an exciting field practicum experience. The USGS scientist taught ethnobotanical uses of plants, as well as brown bear and caribou ecology, plant community mapping, animal tracking, and nature observation skills. This is the second time this field camp has been sponsored. This outreach program has been well received by the Native community and has stimulated much interest in the natural sciences. Contact: Tom Smith, 907-786-3456,

Environmental Education Programs for Native Americans. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) and the Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc., the USGS is conducting research on the freshwater ecology of Yukon River chum salmon stocks. The accessibility of the Chena River study site makes it ideal for educational programs for students wishing to learn about field science in Alaska.

In July 1998, 12 students with the BIA-sponsored Water Resources Technician Training Program visited the site and were given training in the operation of salmon-counting weirs, tagging and measuring fish, mapping spawning habitat, and collection of environmental data (e.g., water velocity, temperature, and substrate types). Participants receive college credit and Water Resource Technician certification.

In August 1998, students from the Earth Quest Wildlife and Wildlands Camp visited the site. The Earth Quest Camp is also operated under a Challenge Cost Share Agreement among the USFW, the Tanana Chiefs Conference, Inc., Alaska Bird Observatory, Alaska Biological Research, Inc., Alaska Boreal Forest Council, ADFG, Alaska State Parks, Alaska Public Lands Information Center-Fairbanks, Northwest Arctic Borough School District, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The students, age 14 to 17, came from rural areas throughout Alaska. During their visit to the USGS study site, they were given an overview of the research project and hands-on experience with fisheries sampling techniques. They also had an opportunity to meet USGS staff and find out how and why people become biologists. Contact: Jim Finn, 907-786-3450,

Geographic Information Systems Training in Alaska. Preliminary talks have begun in an attempt to coordinate efforts in training Native Alaskans and Indians on Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The USGS Alaska Biological Science Center is hosting workshops as part of its National Spatial Data Initiative benefits grant, and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society has begun to schedule similar GIS sessions. Contact: Director, Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512, or Joy Geiselman, 907-786-3668, or Karen Oakley, 907-786-3579,

Hydrologic Training for Alaska Natives. The USGS sponsored a 1-week hydrologic technician training session for approximately 20 Alaska Natives from rural communities throughout Alaska. The session, which trained the Alaska Natives in hydrologic procedures was well received. Improving the understanding of their water resources will assist Alaska Natives and their governments to better manage these resources. Contact: Gordon Nelson, 907-786-7111,

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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