USGS - science for a changing world

USGS Office of Tribal Relations

Maps, Imagery, and Publications Hazards Newsroom Education Jobs Partnerships Library About USGS Social Media

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

Highlights of Fiscal Year 2003

Tribal Colleges Forum Convenes at USGS EROS Data Center. On September 19th, 2003, the Second Tribal College Forum was convened at the EROS Data Center, near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Thirty-four Tribal Colleges participated in the meeting, which was coordinated by the Leadership Team which includes eight of these schools. The Forum addressed how information and technologies from the USGS can assist Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) in providing economic opportunities for their students and communities. The meeting was very successful with presentations by Ron His Horse Is Thunder, Chairman of the President's Advisory Board on TCUs, Chip Groat, USGS Director, the Central Region's Executive Leadership Team, and representatives from many of the TCUs. Contact person: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Ichthyophonus Infections of Yukon River Chinook Salmon. Scientists at the Western Fisheries Research Center conducted the final year of a five-year study on the prevalence and intensity of Ichthyophonus infections in returning adult Chinook salmon in the Yukon River. This project was principally supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The pathogen, similar to a fungus, appears to be an increasing problem in these important stocks. Historical data and reports from Tribal elders suggest that increasing temperatures in the Yukon River in the past few decades may be associated with the increased severity of disease, causing adverse flesh quality and possible pre-spawning losses. USGS fisheries biologists conducted field and laboratory studies to (1) sample Chinook at multiple sites within the Yukon River system to assess prevalence of Ichthyophonus infection and disease severity; (2) relate annual changes in disease severity to changes in river conditions (especially temperature); (3) determine if infected adults (especially females) die before reaching their natal streams; determine the source of Ichthyophonus infections in Yukon River Chinook salmon, and (4) determine the effect of water temperature on the growth rate and pathogenicity of Ichthyophonus. From 1999 to 2003, the field studies confirmed that more than 25 percent of Yukon River Chinook salmon enter the river already infected with Ichthyophonus. Infection prevalence remained relatively constant until fish reached the upper Yukon where it dramatically dropped to 1 percent or less. Clinical signs of disease were minimal when fish entered the river but increased significantly when fish reached the middle river. Also, among fish from the end of the run, the parasite was disseminated and clinical disease was apparent in multiple organs. Infection and disease prevalence rates in fish from the Tanana River and the mouth of the Chena River were similar to those in the Yukon River. Female spawn-outs collected from the upper Chena River, however, showed little evidence of Ichthyophonus infection. This dramatic decrease in infection prevalence in females near the end of their spawning migration was similar to that seen at Whitehorse in other years. Elevated river temperatures within and among years may be an important cause of increased disease among Yukon River Chinook salmon. Initial infection and disease rates in the Yukon River Chinook in June 2003 appear more severe than in the past, probably due to lower water levels and higher temperatures this year. This project has received exceptional interest from Tribal, Federal, and Canadian fisheries managers and direct assistance from Athabascans from Tanana Village, Galena, Fairbanks, and Nenana, as well as Yupiks at Emmonak, Alaska. Contact: Western Fisheries Research Center, Lyman K. Thorsteinson, 206-526-6282,

Yakama Nation – 1st Regional Tribal Watershed Roundtable. USGS Northwest Geographic Science Team (NGST) staff participated in the first PNW (Pacific Northwest) Regional Tribal Watershed Roundtable in May 2003 in Toppenish, Washington, to advance effective coordination with Tribes in the Pacific Northwest. The Yakama Nation hosted the Roundtable, which included the Colville, Umatilla, and Warm Springs Tribes. Current and potential Federal, State, and local partners, private company representatives, and private citizens from the region also participated. A facilitator led the group through several interactive exercises that were designed to open up the lines of communication between Tribal and non-Tribal participants and to build trust between the diverse group of participants. The Roundtable focused on water issues in the region and also provided an opportunity for USGS staff to make initial contact with several Tribal staff related to implementing The National Map in the Pacific Northwest. Contact: Nancy Tubbs, 503-251-3210,

The National Map Partnership and Wildfire Behavior Modeling. The USGS Northwest Geographic Science Team and EROS Data Center (EDC) are partnering with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Team to implement The National Map over Tribal lands using Tribal data. The cooperative project will combine data from the Coeur d'Alene Tribe's National Map Implementation and Wildfire Mitigation Application with other data from Federal, State, Tribal, and County sources. The Tribe supported the Fiscal Year 2002 Washington/Idaho National Map pilot project by providing regional hydrography data set that they produced. Additional training and data will be acquired by the Tribe's GIS Team to develop wildfire-modeling capability. In the future, results from wildfire analysis applications by the Tribe will be displayed for public viewing on The National Map through the Tribe's data server. Additional Tribes in the Pacific Northwest have expressed interest in developing similar partnership opportunities. Fiscal Year 2003 activities included initial concept presentations and discussions at the InterTribal GIS Council meeting, followed by proposal development and project planning for Fiscal Year 2004 activities. Contact: Tracy Fuller, 208-387-1351,, Eric Wood, 605-594-6068,, or Frank Roberts, 208-686-5307

Eros Data Center 30th Anniversary Shares Native American Culture. The USGS EROS Data Center's 30th anniversary open house in September 2003 featured a “Tent of Many Voices” and a “Native American Village” as parts of the public educational experiences. The “Tent of Many Voices” featured two presentations by Duane Hollow Horn Bear, Sicangu Lakota of Sinte Gleska University (SGU). Hollow Horn Bear spoke about the impact of Lewis and Clark on Lakota culture. The Native American Village featured exhibits, displays, demonstrations, and interpretations of Lakota dance and song, courtesy of the Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates and the Oyate Singers and Dancers. Amy Mossett, Mandan-Hidatsa of the Three Affiliated Tribes, presented an account of Sagkakawea's life, including her journey with Lewis and Clark. The open house also featured a display from the Pipestone National Monument, Pipestone, Minnesota, and Native American art from the University of South Dakota. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Amy Mossett, a member of the Mandan-Hidatsa tribe, Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates, re-enacts the travels of Sagkakawea with Lewis and Clark, at USGS EROS Data Center's 30th anniversary celebration. U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.
Amy Mossett, a member of the Mandan-Hidatsa tribe, Alliance of Tribal Tourism Advocates, re-enacts the travels of Sagkakawea with Lewis and Clark, at USGS EROS Data Center's 30th anniversary celebration. U.S. Geological Survey Photographic Library.

USGS Restores Historic Native American Prints. A collection of historical photographs was acquired in the late 1800's to early 1900's by Benedictine monks as they traveled throughout Dakota Territory. USGS learned of these images while researching geographic information related to Lewis and Clark's journey, and the commemoration of that journey. The photographs were deteriorating at the Benedictine's Blue Cloud Abbey, near Marvin, South Dakota. Members of the Abbey asked for USGS technological assistance in restoring some of the images. This was accomplished by the EDC staff, who expertly and routinely conserve a variety of mostly geographic images. The National Park Service provided restoration support. Several of the images were used to produce a Native American Heritage Month poster that USGS regional directors asked employees to use during the month of November 2003. The poster is on the web at: A special exhibit of the Blue Cloud Abbey images was featured in the spring of 2004 at the U.S. Senate Russell Rotunda in Washington, D.C. EDC staff prepared and framed the photographs and explanatory materials for the images. The images were exhibited at the EDC and at the USGS national headquarters in Reston, Virginia. EDC staff provided a framed historic print for a meeting between the USGS and Sinte Gleska University in Mission, South Dakota, in January 2003. The USGS Central Region Director and the EDC Chief participated in the meeting and presented the large-format print to SGU officials. Contact: Gene Napier, 605-594-6088,

Supporting Yankton Sioux Pesticide Management Plan. The USGS, in cooperation with the EPA, is compiling and analyzing data to provide background information for a Pesticide Management Plan for the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Numeric and geospatial datasets include pesticide concentrations in ground and surface water, precipitation, soils information, topographic data, geohydrologic features, land cover and use, and pesticide use in the area. The Yankton Sioux Tribe will use the assembled information to develop a Pesticide Management Plan for their lands. Contact: Bryan Schaap 605-352-4241,

These historic images are courtesy of the Blue Cloud Abbey at Marvin, South Dakota.

Whitefish Studies with the Chippewa/Ottawa Resource Authority. The Chippewa/Ottawa Resource Authority (CORA), USGS, Michigan State University, and Environment Canada are cooperating on research to understand the magnitude and potential causes of natural mortality in four lake whitefish populations in Lakes Michigan and Huron. The objectives of the project are to estimate natural mortality over three years in four lake whitefish populations and to determine potential causes and indicators of differences in natural mortality rates among these lake whitefish populations. The study is novel in that traditional stock assessment approaches are combined with comprehensive fish health assessments. The researchers are optimistic that their approach will produce new insights into the mechanisms underlying among-population and among-year differences in population dynamics for one of the most important commercial fish populations in the Great Lakes. The USGS Hammond Bay Biological Station in Millersburg, Michigan, assisted staff of the InterTribal Fisheries Assessment Program of the CORA with a mark and recapture study of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in northern Lake Huron during November 2003. The USGS provided staff, vessels, and equipment for the study. Fieldwork for the study involved capturing lake whitefish in commercial trap nets that were placed on the spawning grounds near Cheboygan, Michigan. The trap nets were lifted by Tribal commercial fishermen contracted by the Chippewa/Ottawa Resource Authority to assist with the study. For each fish caught in the trap net, scientists recorded total length, sex, stage of spawning activity, and sea lamprey marks. The left pectoral fin was removed, a tag was inserted into the fish, and then the fish was released back into Lake Huron. About 1,900 lake whitefish were tagged during the study. In addition, 70 whitefish from the study were killed and sent to Michigan State University in order to measure body composition as an overall assessment of their nutritional status and well being. Researchers will assess body lipids, membrane fatty acid content, disease resistance, viruses, bacteria, and parasite loadings in these 70 fish. During this study, the CORA also provided 106 lake whitefish for an ongoing USGS study of the depths and temperatures occupied seasonally by lake whitefish. Those fish were implanted with data-recording devices that will return up to 33,000 observations of depth and temperature if recaptured. An external tag advertises a $100 reward for return of a tagged fish. A similar study with lake trout will allow scientists to minimize the need to catch lake trout while researching lake whitefish. Contact: Roger Bergstedt, 989-734-4768,

In-Situ Determination of Depth and Temperature Selection by Great Lake Fishes. Scientists at the USGS Great Lakes Science Center, Hammond Bay Biological Station, 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 2003 with archival tags that record both depth and temperature, producing daily and seasonal records of the habitats occupied by each fish. During 2003, USGS staff tagged 226 lake trout and 100 lake trout obtained from Tribally-operated commercial trap nets set by the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and the Bay Mills Indian Community. The USGS and CORA scientists also worked with Tribal trap netters to tag 123 lake whitefish from trap nets set by Tribal fishermen under contract with CORA to provide fish for CORA research. Tribal fishermen have also been very responsive in returning fish tags to USGS scientists and in providing parasitic phase sea lampreys for 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. 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. No Wildlife Health Alerts were issued in 2003; however, NWHC will continue distribution of these notices as they are issued. 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 SWS Scientific Information Support Team, which has developed a database containing information acquired from research and natural resource, social, and economic data that is critical to natural resource management in Arizona and New Mexico. The database was made available on the Internet in 2003 ( In November 2003, the SWS Tribal Relations Support Team (TRST), which is co-sponsored by the USGS, jointly sponsored the Annual Tribal Soil and Water Conservation District Conference in Laughlin, Nevada, with the Navajo Nation's Chinle Soil and Water Conservation District. The TRST also planned and conducted a three-day Tribal Relations Training workshop for mid-level managers in May 2003 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. More than 100 representatives from the Federal and State agencies attended. To address the serious issue of smuggling of antiquities along the U.S.–Mexico Border, the SWS U.S.–Mexico Border Task Team sponsored a Bi–National Cultural Resources Law Enforcement Training workshop in Nogales, Arizona, in August 2003. Contact: Elaine Padovani, 520-670-5506, or Wes Ward, 520-670-5584,

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 two-year cooperative study with the Tribe and Chippewa Township to conduct a hydrogeologic analysis of the area. 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. In Fiscal Year 2002, water-quality samples were collected to determine the applicability of using a deep bedrock aquifer as a ground-water resource, and surface geophysical methods were used to image glacial sediments that overlie bedrock. In Fiscal Year 2003, additional geophysical analyses were made and a ground-water flow model was constructed to aid in managing the area's ground-water resources. Also in Fiscal Year 2003, two ground-water level recorders were established, and the water-level monitoring network for the Township was expanded. In Fiscal Year 2004, model calibration will be completed and modeling scenarios will be run reflecting known or projected changes in hydraulic stress. The findings of the study will be presented to Tribal and Township audiences. Contact: Chris Hoard, 517-887-8949,

Public Water Supply Wells, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Lake Superior Indians and the Indian Health Service discovered the toxic contaminant, ethylene dibromide (EDB), in a recently-installed public water-supply well (PWS) at a Tribal housing development during routine testing. Quantities of EDB exceeded EPA drinking water standards in the well water. In Fiscal Year 2003, after a series of meetings among Tribal, EPA, Indian Health Service, USGS, and other officials, USGS assisted EPA in determining if EDB-contaminated agricultural materials were buried near the PWS wells using geophysical instruments and a Geoprobe. No buried contaminated materials were found. In Fiscal Year 2004, work will consist of determining ground-water flow direction to the PWS wells by constructing several monitoring wells and investigating hydraulic and geologic characteristics from cores acquired during the drilling process. Contact: Dave Westjohn, 517-887-8921, or Tom Weaver, 906-786-0714,

Artwork done by: Charlie Her Many Horses, Sicangu (Rosebud) Lakota
Artwork done by: Charlie Her Many Horses, 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.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 27-Feb-2013 07:53:50 EST