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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives
Fiscal Year 2003

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Educational Activities

National Indian Education Association. The USGS expanded its involvement in the annual conference of the National Indian Education Association (NIEA) by providing a geographic information systems (GIS) workshop for participants. Participants in this hands-on, computer-based workshop, conducted by James Rattling Leaf and Jhon Goes In Center of the Sicangu Policy Institute of Rosebud Sioux Tribe's Sinte Gleska University, Esther Worker of ESRI, and Joseph Kerski of the USGS, explored Native American population distribution and natural hazards using ArcView GIS software and USGS spatial data. Emphasis was placed on how students can use GIS in history, geography, economics, and science classes to analyze patterns and links from a local to a global scale to encourage critical thinking. The group also discussed diverse opportunities to use GIS skills to enhance employment prospects. The USGS and Sinte Gleska University jointly sponsored an information exhibit at the NIEA conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which attracted over 3,500 attendees. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088, or Joseph Kerski, 303-212-4315,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Coastal GIS and Metadata Training for American Indians. The 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 and at the USGS Training Center in Denver, CO. 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 to 20 American Indian students at each annual session. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Water Technician Training Course. The Bureau of Indian Affairs sponsored its annual Water Technician Training Course session at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Tribal representatives from throughout Indian Country participated in the course with 27 students participating in the New Mexico session. The four-week earth sciences course utilized instructors from several Federal agencies and academia. USGS personnel taught a three-day module titled, "Introduction to Hydrologic Data Collection Techniques." The New Mexico Water Resources District provided USGS instructors. Instruction included classroom and field activities on ground-water concepts and data collection, and surface-water data collection techniques. The field-oriented training program uses hands-on-experience to develop basic data collection skills. The New Mexico session is coordinated by New Mexico State University. Contact: Edward (Nick) Nickerson, 505-646-7618,

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) continues offering two training sessions that 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, Geospatial One Stop, The National Map, 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. The courses are offered several times per year at the USFWS National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

Oneida Nation and USGS Celebrate Science with Oneida Students. The USGS Wisconsin Office celebrated National Water Monitoring Day with the Oneida Nation at Duck Creek near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Forty-two students from the Oneida Nation High School and Middle School and their science teachers participated in events. The Oneida Nation Environmental Department, Water Resources Team, co-sponsored the celebration. The students expressed interest in the functions of both Tribal and Federal scientists and were eager to learn about how water quality affects them. Two USGS employees gave an opening talk about the missions of the Oneida Nation's Water Resources Team, the USGS, and how the two governments collaborate on water-quality issues. Another USGS employee gave a presentation on the different types of algae, how to collect algae samples, and how algae data are used in evaluating the water quality of a system. An Oneida Water Resources Team representative gave a presentation on invertebrate collection, indices scores, and how they are used in evaluating water quality. Another USGS employee talked about the Clean Water Act, and its significance and impact on the Nation's water resources, including an overview of water quality, how the USGS monitors water quality, and how streamflow measurements are made and used. Due to the inclement weather conditions, field parameters were collected continuously using a multi-parameter meter and compared with the colormetrics kits provided by the American's Clean Water Foundation. Despite temperatures in the low 30's and a mix of rain and snow, the students actively participated in the Duck Creek activities. Contact: Kevin Richards, USGS, 608-821-3861,

National Monitoring Day at the Oneida Nation with students from the Oneida Nation High School. Photo taken by Morgan Schneider (USGS Middleton, WI).
National Monitoring Day at the Oneida Nation with students from the Oneida Nation High School. Photo taken by Morgan Schneider (USGS Middleton, WI).

La Crosse, Wisconsin, Native American Students. Representatives of the USGS Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center (UMESC) met with the La Crosse (Wisconsin) School District's Native American student liaisons at the Study Center in La Crosse. The Study Center is sponsored by the Ho-Chunk Nation, to facilitate Native American educational success in the La Crosse public school system. Discussions were held about educational resources available at the Center to cultivate interactions among USGS, the Native American students, and the communities. In addition, during Fiscal Year 2003, UMESC representatives gave a tour of the USGS Center's educational resources to three teachers from the Ho-Chunk Nation's Tomah Study Center in Tomah, Wisconsin. Discussions were held to plan educational opportunities for the students during the 2002–2003 school year and the summer of 2003. Kindergarten through 9th grade students from the Tomah Study Center of the Ho-Chunk Nation came to the UMESC for tours, demonstrations of scientific techniques, and to learn about career opportunities. USGS scientists explained the relevance of unbiased USGS science to the preservation of natural resources and Native American's cultural values. The Ahuco Headstart Center, sponsored by the Ho-Chunk Nation in Tomah, Wisconsin, also brought 20 Native American preschool children to tour the UMESC in May 2003. Contact: Randy Hines, 508-781-6398,

USGS EDC Staff Support Flandreau Indian School. Staff of the USGS EROS Data Center (EDC) visited Flandreau Indian School (FIS), a BIA boarding school 45 miles north of Sioux Falls in southeast South Dakota. They discussed possible USGS support for an on-line geographic information system (GIS) course at the school. In addition to possible GIS course support, EDC staff, the FIS Superintendent and FIS staff members discussed the potential for the USGS to provide excess equipment to the school. In March of 2003, the Gifted Student Program Coordinator at FIS brought 60 students to the EDC for a tour, which included a series of hands-on activities with earth science and remote sensing technology. EDC staff conducted presentations for the visiting students and educators. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

USGS Supports Tribal College Outreach. Outreach staff at the USGS EROS Data Center provided Cankdeska Cikana Community College, Fort Totten, North Dakota, with USGS bookmarks and Landsat trading cards for use at an elementary and middle school Earth Day event for Native American students. Cankdeska Cikana Community College serves the Spirit Lake Tribe. USGS staff also sent bookmarks, Landsat trading cards, and other materials to Oglala Lakota College (OLC), Kyle, South Dakota. The USGS handouts were used by OLC staff in a global positioning system (GPS) and Geo-cache scavenger hunt for K–8 Native American students held in September 2003. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Gail Schmidt, EDC staff person stationed at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology worked with 15 Native American studients in the Wind Cave National Park. Photo taken by Gail Schmidt (USGS). Gail Schmidt, EDC staff person stationed at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology worked with 15 Native American studients in the Wind Cave National Park. Photo taken by Gail Schmidt (USGS).
Gail Schmidt, EDC staff person stationed at the South Dakota School of
Mines & Technology worked with 15 Native American studients in the
Wind Cave National Park. Photo taken by Gail Schmidt (USGS).

USGS and South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Collaborate on Native American Student Summer Camp. The USGS, though an EDC staff person stationed at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology (SDSM&T), Rapid City, South Dakota, worked with 15 Native American students in the Wind Cave National Park area during June 2003. The group used global positioning systems (GPS) units as a part of SDSM&T advanced placement program for gifted students. The USGS staffer showed the students how remote sensing technology can be used in many earth science applications, including fire science. Contact: Gail Schmidt, 605-394-2292,

NASA REASoN CAN Awarded to SGU. During 2003, Sinte Gleska University (Rosebud Reservation) was awarded a REASoN CAN grant by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). REASoN CAN stands for "Earth Science Research, Education, and Applications Solutions Network Cooperative Agreement Notice." Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding between the USGS and Sinte Gleska University (SGU), the EROS Data Center (EDC) staff worked with SGU staff to develop the project implementation plan for this grant. SGU staff, with support from EDC staff, revised the original proposal, as NASA requested, and established the implementation plan for the project entitled, "Using Geospatial Information to Enhance Tribal Rangeland Management Through Education and Understanding." The project, to begin during Fiscal Year 2004, focuses on education for the Rosebud Tribe– understanding the impact of rangeland management practices on vegetation resources. Using NASA and USGS science applications and information, SGU will characterize the problem, explore solutions, and educate the Rosebud Tribe's communities about the impacts. A key aspect of this endeavor is to engage the minds of the young (elementary and secondary) students to cultivate a holistic understanding of the relationships between Tribal land resources and economic sustainability, community prosperity, and cultural preservation. In addition, many generations of Tribal leadership and land use/land management decision makers will also benefit from a better understanding of the impact of land management on Tribal resources. Contact: Eugene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Sinte Gleska Intern Through CRISP. An intern from Sinte Gleska University (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) was funded through the Central Region Integrated Science Program. She spent two months at USGS EROS Data Center (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) learning geospatial analysis techniques and developing a database for water-quality studies on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. Working with data collected by the USGS Water Resources group in Rapid City, S.D., the intern compiled well and lake water- quality assessments and identified possible sources of water-quality impacts, such as agricultural activity and its proximity to elevated nitrate levels in well assessments. She developed a presentation to explain her results to others, including Tribal officials. Contact: David Meyer, 605-594-6046,

Technical Assistance to Haskell Indian Nations University. The USGS serves on the Haskell Indian Nations University's Natural Resources Advisory Board and advises Haskell on pertinent academic programs. In Fiscal Year 2003, technical assistance was provided to Haskell with their development of a mobile water-quality lab (purchased with EPA grant funds) intended for use with nearby Tribes. Contact: Walt Aucott, 785-832-3505,

Technical Support—Environmental Sampling Techniques. Oglala Lakota College (OLC) is an accredited institution offering baccalaureate and master's degree programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. The college is currently developing a water-quality laboratory and wanted an understanding of the techniques and methods used by the USGS for the collection of discharge measurements, water-quality samples, and macro-invertebrate sampling. An overview of current methods was presented to students and staff from the Oglala Lakota College over a 4-day period. Students and staff participated in hands-on collection of measurements and samples. Contact: Joyce Williamson 605-355-4560,

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,

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, USGS, San Diego State University, Palomar College, 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 or Recreation 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 experienced four years of drought. For Earth Science/World Water Monitoring Week, a USGS scientist joined the team to teach Native American children how to measure water-quality parameters such as pH, temperature, water clarity, and oxygen content. Equipment from prior USGS funding was shared with children from the Pala Band of Mission Indians, La Jolla, Sycuan, Viejas, and Campo Band (Kumeyaay). Contact: Eleanora I. (Norrie) Robbins, 619-303-9095,

Explorer's Club member Pierre Alexander, age 5, learns about rocks in a hands-on program. Photo by Norrie Robbins.
Explorer's Club member Pierre Alexander, age 5, learns about rocks in a hands-on program. Photo by Norrie Robbins.

National Water Monitoring Day. Children from the La Jolla Band of Mission Indians participated in National Water Monitoring Day, October 18, 2002. USGS personnel and other volunteer professionals guided the students through the collection and analysis of a core set of water-quality parameters. Water samples were collected from the San Luis Rey River on the La Jolla Indian Reservation and analyzed in the field for dissolved oxygen, pH, water clarity, and temperature. The USGS provided technical instruction along with field supplies and equipment. Contact: Julia Huff, 858- 637-6823,

Anchorage, Alaska, ESIC Explains USGS Mapping to Alaska Native Students. The Alaska Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) provided an opportunity for Native children from the Lower Kuskokwim School District to learn about various aspects of the USGS Geography Discipline during their annual June and July "Road Science" field trips. Among the topics covered were aerial photography, stereo imaging, and understanding map contours. Experiential learning techniques and activities got the students actively involved in learning to use spatial data. Approximately 80 students were involved in the program. Contact: Greg Durocher, 907-786-7009,

Alaska Native Internship Program. A USGS scientist continued a fisheries science internship program in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska during the summer of 2003. The focus of the program is to recruit Alaska Native students into the field of fisheries science. In 2003, five students from Nondalton, Igiugig, and Kokanok, Alaska, learned what it was like to be a fish biologist. All of the students assisted on the project the previous summer, while one of the young women has been with the program 5 years. This experienced student acts as field crew leader on the otolith-sampling project. The other interns learned new skills such as habitat mapping; otolith collection, preservation, and reading; diverse fish capture methods; environmental monitoring techniques and data entry and presentation techniques. The USGS coordinated this internship program in partnership with the National Park Service at Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. If funding becomes available, this program of encouraging Alaska Natives to pursue college degrees and to consider careers in science will continue in Fiscal Year 2004. Contact: Carol Woody, 907-786-3512,

Yupik Students Assist in Biological Research. USGS scientists in Alaska are continuing to enhance communication between government researchers and Alaska Natives as they present career opportunities to Native youths. To demonstrate the kind of research being conducted, the USGS recruited 24 Yupik Eskimo students in 2003 to assist in a waterfowl study on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska. The students live at a remote site with biologists while assisting the scientists in capturing geese and swans and fitting the birds with leg bands and neck collars. Movements of these waterfowl are being monitored as part of a large study to determine annual survival rates, migration pathways, and important staging and winter habitats. The year 2003 marks the 18th consecutive year of involvement by Alaska Native students from the Native Village of Chevak in this important project. More than 180 Yupik youth have participated in this program since 1986. This effort supports a regional need for information on the population biology of species of interest to indigenous people, wildlife enthusiasts, and sport hunters. Contact: Craig Ely, USGS Alaska Science Center, 907-786-3526,

Modern—artwork done by Jamie Poorman, Sicangu (Rosebud) Lakota
Modern-artwork done by Jamie Poorman, Sicangu (Rosebud) Lakota

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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