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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

Highlights of Fiscal Year 2002

Wildlife Mortality: Chronic Wasting Disease, West Nile Virus, and Other Diseases. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin, has responsibility for disease prevention, detection, and control in free-ranging wildlife. Species under Federal stewardship, such as migratory birds, endangered species and animals on Federal lands, are the focus of field investigations, diagnostic work, and research. Avian, mammalian, and amphibian wildlife carcasses from all over the country are submitted to the Center for diagnostic evaluation. When a wildlife mortality event is reported, potential responses include on-site assistance to contain the outbreak, diagnostic services to determine the cause, and research to better understand the ecology of the disease. Services are available to bureaus within the Department of the Interior and to Tribal organizations. During 2002, Center staff conducted two wildlife disease workshops with several tribes. In early June, the first workshop, entitled "Wildlife Disease: A Symposium for Tribal Biologists and Managers," was held in Brookings, South Dakota. South Dakota State University, the BIA, the USGS, and the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society sponsored the workshop, which was attended by representatives from the following Tribes: Oglala Sioux, Rosebud Sioux, Chippewa Cree, Coeur d'Alene, Mescalero Apache, Assiniboine, and Southern Ute. Since this symposium, the National Wildlife Health Center has received requests for information from several Tribal participants on testing for Chronic Wasting Disease in ungulates and West Nile virus in birds, and on developing disease contingency plans. Contact: Scott Wright, 608-270-2460, or Kathryn Converse, 608-270-2445,

Tribal Colleges Convene in Sioux Falls. On October 15-16, 2002, 25 of the 33 Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs in the United States met at the USGS EROS Data Center (EDC) near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The Tribal College Forum was co-hosted by the USGS and Sinte Gleska University (SGU) of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. The Forum addressed how information and technologies from USGS can assist TCUs in providing economic opportunities to their students and communities. An outcome of the Forum was the creation of a consortium of TCUs that seek to share technologies and capabilities to improve career prospects for their students and service to their Tribes. The 57 participants included several tribal college presidents, their technical specialists, Federal and State agency representatives, non-profit and private groups. USGS Director Charles "Chip" Groat gave the keynote address. Vice Presidents of SGU, Albert White Hat, Leland Bordeaux, and Steve Emery provided presentations while James Rattling Leaf and Jhon Goes In Center facilitated the Forum. Senator Johnson and Congressman Thune, both of South Dakota, also sent representatives. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,; SGU contact: James Rattling Leaf, 605-856-4262,

Horse Looking Fire (Saint Francis Fire). The USGS EROS Data Center, working with Sinte Gleska University, provided a Landsat 7 image to the Rosebud Tribe to support a fire damage assessment of the Horse Looking Fire on lands of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. This Landsat 7 image of the fire damage helped the Tribe in obtaining a grant from the Wildland Urban Fire Interface (WUFI). The grant will provide employment for 80 Rosebud tribal members. Lightening started the fire, originally called the St. Francis Fire, on July 29, 2002. The fire spread quickly due to drought conditions, destroying valuable timber resources of the Rosebud Tribe and causing the evacuation of 500 people. Tribal, BIA, State, and U.S. Forest Service sources deployed an estimated five hundred firefighters. The fire was contained on August 3 after burning roughly 3,032 acres. The satellite image of the Horse Looking fire was also used at the Indian Economic Summit in Phoenix, Arizona in September 2002, to demonstrate how USGS information can benefit Tribal communities. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

In-Situ Determination of Depth and Temperature Selection by Great Lake Fishes. Scientists at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Hammond Bay Biological Station (HBBS), are conducting a study of the daily and seasonal temperature and depth preferences of various types of Great Lakes fish. The data from these studies will greatly increase the understanding of seasonal species overlap and will benefit management and restoration programs in Tribal agencies, eight States, Canadian provinces, and other Federal agencies throughout the Great Lakes basin. USGS scientists obtained the fish for the study with assistance from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA). The fish were tagged during 2002 with archival tags that record both depth and temperature, producing daily and seasonal records of the habitats occupied by each fish. USGS scientists also assisted the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission in implanting the same type of tags in lean lake trout in Lake Superior in October 2002. During 2002, USGS staff tagged 198 lake trout (160 in spring, obtained from tribal trap nets; and 38 in the fall, obtained from CORA assessment gill nets). Twenty of the lake trout (13%) tagged in spring 2002 were subsequently caught. Three were caught shortly after release and were re-released by tribal fishers. Data files were recovered from 16 trout (10%). Forty-three lake whitefish (from tribal trap nets) were tagged; none were recovered, possibly due to the effect of transporting the fish to the HBBS for tagging. In spring 2003, USGS and CORA scientists will work with tribal trap netters to tag whitefish on the water, a technique that has worked well with hook-and-line-caught chinook salmon. Fifty sea lampreys were also tagged. In related studies, USGS scientists tagged 91 chinook salmon caught with hook-and-line; seven (8%) were recovered in 2002. Only about a third of these were of a size expected to mature and run the streams. The recovery pattern suggests an eventual recovery of 25% or more. Twenty lake sturgeon, obtained from Canadian commercial trap nets, were tagged; two (10%) were recovered. Similar or greater numbers of fish are expected to be tagged in 2003. The results of an earlier archival tag study describing temperatures occupied by two strains of lake trout will be published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. Contact: Roger Bergstedt, 989-734-4768,

Wildlife Health Alerts and Other Information on Wildlife Diseases. The USGS National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisconsin distributes Wildlife Health Alerts to Federal and State natural resource and conservation agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Wildlife Health Alerts provide and promote an exchange of information on important threats to wildlife health. They are issued for specific wildlife diseases, not for human health issues. There were no Wildlife Health Alerts issued in 2002. A complete list of Wildlife Health Alerts and copies of each are available at Tribal governments are encouraged to contact the USGS to be added to the automated announcement list. Contact: Paul Slota, 608-270-2420,

Southwest Strategy. The USGS is an active partner in the Southwest Strategy, (SWS). SWS is an intergovernmental process that provides a forum for diverse entities to collaborate and resolve natural resource conservation, management, and community development issues affecting Arizona and New Mexico. Through cooperative planning and improved decision-making, SWS strives to maintain, restore, and enhance the cultural, economic, and environmental quality of life for the people of Arizona and New Mexico. SWS brings together Federal, Tribal, State, and local governments, as well as private landowners and other stakeholders, in a problem solving process. The USGS sponsors and chairs the Southwest Strategy's Scientific Information Work Group; the group has developed a database containing information acquired from research and natural resource, social, and economic data that is critical to natural resource management in the Arizona and New Mexico. The database will be available on the Internet in 2003. The SWS sponsored a Tribal Gathering in April 2002 that focused on cultural resources, economic development, and natural resources. The Gathering provided an opportunity for new collaborations to develop meaningful products. Recommendations from the Gathering will be addressed through Fiscal Year 2003 Tribal Relations Work Group Projects (see In July 2002, USGS scientists briefed Work Group members on collaborative projects on Indian Lands in Arizona. Future projects include joint sponsorship of the Annual Tribal Soil and Water Conservation District Conference in Laughlin, Nevada in November 2002 and for a Tribal Relations Training workshop for mid-level managers in May 2003. Contact: Elaine Padovani, 520-670-5506,

Human Health and Contamination in the Penobscot River. The Bureau of Indian Affairs brought together agencies including the USGS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the University of Maine Water Research Institute to collect information regarding the occurrence, distribution, and ecological and human health risks associated with dioxins, furans, and PCBs in fish and sediment in the Penobscot River. The study area encompasses the Penobscot River main channel from the Milford Dam impoundment in Old Town to Grindstone, Maine. Concentrations of dioxins and furans in the riverbed sediment have been quantified to a limited degree through a 1995 sampling study by the Penobscot Indian Nation's Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection maintains several fish sampling stations in the study area as part of their statewide dioxin-monitoring program. The USGS Maine Water Resources District conducted a field program in cooperation with EPA and the Penobscot Indian Nation's Department of Natural Resources that included a geophysical survey of sediments in the riverbed to identify areas of fine-grain sediment deposition, and the subsequent collection of fish tissues and fine-grained surficial sediment samples. These samples have been analyzed for dioxins, furans, and PCBs at the University of Maine Water Research Institute. EPA risk assessors are using the collected data to produce a report assessing human health and ecological risk. Contact: Robert Lent, 207-622-8201,

Hydrogeologic Analysis of Ground-Water Availability in Chippewa Township, Michigan, Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. Chippewa Township encompasses Tribal lands and buildings belonging to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan. The Tribe and neighboring communities have a significant need for drinking water obtained exclusively from ground-water wells. The hydrogeology in this area is complex and good quality water can be difficult to obtain. In Fiscal Year 2002, the USGS began a 2-year cooperative study with the Tribe and Chippewa Township to conduct a hydrogeologic analysis of the area. In Fiscal Year 2002, water quality samples were collected to determine the feasibility of using a deep bedrock aquifer as a ground-water resource, and surface geophysical methods were employed to image glacial sediments that overlie bedrock. In Fiscal Year 2003, additional geophysical analyses will be made, and a ground-water flow model will be constructed to aid in managing the area's ground-water resources. The goal of the study is to determine current and future ground-water availability so that the Tribe and the Township can use the information for the benefit of their communities. Contact: Chris Hoard, 517-887-8949,

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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