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

Contents | Tribes | Organizations | States | Intro | Highlights | Education | Resource and Environmental | Technical | General Coordination and Policy | Future | Contact Us

General Coordination and Policy Activities

Fast Response Team Forms for Emergency Management Imagery. The Rodeo-Chedeski fires that burned the White Mountain Apache lands and parts of Arizona, and the St. Francis Fire on the Rosebud Reservation and parts of South Dakota led USGS to begin to identify and assemble a response team that will be able to produce imagery for fire emergency responses. The fires, in 2002, prompted the initiation of this informal USGS group in 2003. Portable image acquisition, processing, and analysis equipment will make this team ready to respond to the needs of Tribes, BIA, State, and Federal agencies no matter where the fire emergency. Contact: Ed Pfeifer, 520-670-5019,

International Forum on Indigenous Education in the Geosciences. The 2003 International Geoscience Education conference, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, featured a forum on indigenous geoscience education. Presenters included educators from all continents except Antarctica speaking about communicating earth science concepts. The USGS presented a paper titled, "Working with Native Americans: Examples from the U.S. Geological Survey," that related collaborations with Tribal colleges and universities, and USGS experiences in encouraging Native students to pursue careers in science. Other papers on diverse educational topics also revealed similarities among Native peoples throughout the world, including cultural and family strengths, remote locations, and economic issues affecting these students. Blending Traditional science with Western science was another theme throughout this forum. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Geographic Information Systems Training Coordination. In cooperation with the USGS (EROS Data Center), the Federal Geographic Data Committee and National States GIS Council plan and develop Tribal, Federal, State and local workshops, including the annual Tribal College Forum. The workshops and the Forum offer the Tribes an overview of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure overview and information to assist with them with their planning processes, development of data sets, and data sharing. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

EDC staff designed a poster for National Native American Heritage Month. The images are courtesy of the Blue Cloud Abbey at Marvin, South Dakota
EDC staff designed a poster for National Native American Heritage Month. The images are courtesy of the Blue Cloud Abbey at Marvin, South Dakota

Cooperative Training with Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) through its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency offer several classes for Tribal entities on topics such as: Tribal Framework for Emergency Preparedness; Emergency Operations for Tribal Governments; Introduction to Basic HAZUS (Hazards Use)-Multi Hazards; Intermediate Basic HAZUS-Multi Hazards, and; Mitigation for Tribal Officials. All courses include overviews of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, CAP, Geospatial One Stop, and The National Map. Contact: Bonnie Gallahan, 703-648-6084,

EDC Provides Images for Events. The USGS EROS Data Center (EDC) analyzes and archives satellite and geographic imagery from other sources. The imagery is used by USGS, Native American, and other scientists for a wide variety of studies including, for example, wildfires, land use, and changes in the landscape over time. EDC staff also produces images that help explain geography and USGS science at events and exhibits. The Black Hills of South Dakota are sacred to many Tribes. Images of the Black Hills, showing fires or unique, remote (satellite) perspectives have been produced by EDC and used by USGS and others at numerous events because they are illustrative of USGS work and may be particularly meaningful to Native Americans. Contact: Mark Barber, 605-594-6176,

Rural Geospatial Innovations in America (RGIS). The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), through its memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rural Geospatial Innovations in America (RGIS), will assist Federal, State, Tribal and local entities in implementing advanced geospatial information technologies to improve the quality of life, environmental health, and economics of rural communities. Implementing activities covered by the MOU include technical assistance to Tribal Colleges and Universities in developing and managing geographic information systems, implementing training programs on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, Geospatial One Stop, The National Map, short courses and university curricula on advanced spatial analysis for decision-making processes. Contact Bonnie Gallahan at 703-648-6084,

Biological Information for Committees of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission has established inter-agency committees to coordinate fishery resource management in individual lakes. The USGS and American Indian groups, such as the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority and the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, are represented on the committees for lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. To assist Tribal and State fishery management agencies in assessing the success of fish restoration efforts, USGS and Tribal scientists report annually on the status of lake trout rehabilitation and important prey fishes in lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron. In addition, for the Lake Superior Committee, the USGS provided data and technical assistance. Contact: Sandra Morrison, 734-214-9391,

Coordination with Tribal Organizations in Michigan. USGS staff attended quarterly Michigan Tribal Environmental Group (MTEG) meetings. The Michigan Tribes, the Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5, the USGS, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the State of Michigan, and other groups and agencies are represented in MTEG. MTEG meetings provide a forum for environmental issues pertinent to Michigan Tribes. The USGS also participates in quarterly Multi-Federal Agency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) meetings sponsored by the Midwest Region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). Federal agencies participating in the MOU workgroup include the BIA, the USGS, the Indian Health Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the EPA, which meet to cooperatively plan and coordinate Federal-Tribal activities in EPA's Region 5. Contact: Tom Weaver, 9067860714,

Wildlife Mortality: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), West Nile Virus (WNV), and Other Diseases. The USGS 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 at the USGS. Avian, mammalian, and amphibian wildlife carcasses from all over the country are submitted to the National Wildlife Health Center (NWHC) in Madison, Wisconsin, for diagnostic evaluation. Potential responses to wildlife mortality events include on-site assistance to contain the outbreak, diagnostic services to determine the cause, and research to improve understanding of the ecology of the disease. Services are available to bureaus within the Department of the Interior and to Tribal organizations. During 2003, Center staff conducted three wildlife disease workshops with several Tribes.

In October 2002, Center staff gave several presentations on emerging diseases including Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), West Nile Virus, and Newcastle disease at the 20th Annual Pacific Regional Conference of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) in Worley, Idaho. The Coeur d'Alene Tribe hosted the meeting. The Tribes participating in the session included Yakama, Umatilla, Nez Perce, Warm Springs (Wascot and Paiute), Spokane, Coeur d'Alene, Kalispel and Colville.

In December 2002, the Center hosted a workshop on surveillance strategies to detect CWD in wild elk and deer. A representative of the Bureau of Indian of Affairs (BIA) Great Plains Regional Office was invited and participated in this workshop. As a result of this meeting, the BIA official organized a CWD workshop in September 2003.

In February 2003, NWHC staff were invited to participate in a two-day workshop hosted by the Yakama Nation and held in Toppenish, Washington. CWD was the focus of the workshop, which included descriptions of the biology and ecology of the disease, discussions of surveillance methods, and demonstrations on collecting tissue samples for testing wild deer for CWD. In May 2003, a USGS biologist provided an introduction to the NWHC's programs and services, along with additional information on a number of wildlife diseases, including West Nile virus infection, during a presentation at the 2003 NAFWS National Conference in Traverse City, Michigan. The presentation was part of the conference's symposium on wildlife diseases. The conference was organized by the Great Lakes Region NAFWS and hosted by the Grand Traverse Band. Attendees included members of more than 45 Tribes from all NAFWS regions, including Alaska, as well as Tribal Liaisons from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Since the symposium, the NWHC has received requests for information on ungulate diseases and submissions for diagnostic services from several Tribal participants.

In September 2003, a two-day workshop on CWD was organized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and hosted by the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold. Information was presented on the history, disease process, and detection of CWD. All transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases that affect wildlife were summarized and detailed information was provided on how to develop a CWD surveillance plan. A half-day was devoted to assisting individual Tribes with development of a CWD surveillance plan for their Tribal Nation. A temporary wet laboratory was established, two deer and an elk were necropsied, and samples were collected for CWD testing. The 29 workshop attendees represented 11 Tribal Nations: Crow Creek (Sioux), Standing Rock, Pine Ridge (Oglala), Santee, Yankton, Lower Brule. Cheyenne River, Rosebud, Crow, Chippewa-Cree Tribes of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, and Mandan, Hidasta, and Arikara Tribes. Contact: Scott Wright, 608-270-2460,; Kathryn Converse, 608-270-2445,; Grace McLaughlin, 608-270-2446,

EDC Staff Provided Imagery for Events. EDC staff provided a digital copy of a satellite imagery fly-through of the Lewis and Clark route to the Crownpoint Institute of Technology, Crownpoint, New Mexico. Contact: Mark Barber, 605-594-6176,

Black Hills oblique Landsat image. (Image from USGS EROS Data Center)
Black Hills oblique Landsat image. (Image from USGS EROS Data Center)

Donation of Excess Computers to Omaha Tribe. In January 2003, USGS EROS Data Center (EDC) donated 30 excess computers, monitors, and printers to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Members of the Tribe traveled to Sioux Falls to accept the donation. The computers were examined by the Tribe and then distributed to students and other needed places on the Reservation. Donation of EDC excess computers and equipment to local Native American Tribes will continue in the future. Contact: Terry Pfannenstein, 605-594-6146,

Sinte Gleska University Second Annual Leadership Forum. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU between Sinte Gleska University (SGU) and the USGS mandates an annual meeting of the parties leaders. In 2003, that meeting occurred during the University's Founders Week celebrations on the Rosebud Reservation. University President Lionel Bordeaux and USGS Central Region Director Tom Casadevall guided discussions on accomplishments and goals related to the MOU. The USGS-SGU partnership has produced the University's new Tribal Geospatial Applications Center, which is dedicated to training Native American students in developing GIS, GPS, and remote sensing technologies. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Ground water in the Española basin. The Espanola Basin is the primary source of water for several Pueblos and for the cities of Santa Fe and Los Alamos, New Mexico. Water management decisions, especially during drought conditions, must be based on scientific knowledge of the geologic controls on ground-water flow, storage, and contamination. The USGS hosted a workshop in March 2003 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, for geophysicists, geologists, hydrologists, and water resource managers from various Federal, Pueblo, State, and local government agencies and academia. The workshop provided a forum for the scientists to exchange information, develop mutual goals, report progress to technical communities, and establish a working relationship with decision-makers. Annual workshops hosted in 2002, 2003, and 2004 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, have fostered communication among scientists working in the Española Basin and communicated the results of the studies to 85–100 attendees, several of whom were members of Pueblo Nations. Workshop information can be found at Contact: Tien Grauch, 303236-1393,; Mark Hudson, 3032367446,

New USGS Map of New Mexico. A new USGS map, “Geologic Map of the Rio Puerco Quadrangle, Bernalillo and Valencia Counties, New Mexico,” provides geologic information that can be used by the public and the people of the Pueblo of Isleta. This map includes lands belonging to the Pueblo of Isleta located just south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. It can be used to aid in site-selection for new water wells on the Pueblo. Contact: Florian Maldonado, 303-236-1281,

Risk Assessment of Contamination in the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River. The Yakama Indian Nation was briefed on USGS scientific investigations concerning potential aquatic contamination associated with the Hanford Reach of the Columbia River during a workshop held in Toppenish, Washington, in April 2003. Subsequent to that meeting, at the request of the Yakama Indian Nation, a multidisciplinary (biology and hydrology) USGS proposal for research on the environmental quality of the Columbia River was developed. Information from these studies will be necessary should future ecological and human health risk assessments be conducted on the potential impact of contamination from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. A summary of this proposal was presented to the Yakama Nation in October 2003. Contact: Ed Little, 573-875-5399,

Lakota Dancer–Artwork done by Regina One Star, Sicangu (Rosebud) Lakota
Lakota Dancer–Artwork done by Regina One Star, 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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