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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives — Fiscal Year 1997

By U.S. Geological Survey

Educational Activities

Within the Department of the Interior, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Indian Affairs have worked together 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. Some of the most notable educational achievements during Fiscal Year 1997 are presented here:

American Indian Higher Education Consortium. With assistance from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, the USGS Biological Resources Discipline (BRD) Cooperative Unit at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore sponsored the 1997 Career Awareness Institute. The BRD staff notified Tribes of this 25-year old program. Applicants selected for the program earned 4 credit hours in intensive 3- week studies in wildlife and fisheries, and another 2 credits for fieldwork at a BRD or U.S. Fish and Wildlife field station. In addition, a BRD scientist traveled across the Nation and held information sessions of the 1997 Career Awareness Institute at:

Of the 250 applications for the Career Awareness Institute, 30 percent were American Indian or Alaska Native, and of the 16 who matriculated, 6 were Indian or Native, from the Navajo Nation, Crow (Absarokee) Tribe, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, and Yup'ik Eskimo. The BRD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service shared the expenses of this program, which provided travel, living, and academic expenses. In 1998, the Career Awareness Institute will be sponsored by the Fish and Wildlife Service at its new Shepherdstown, WV, training center. Contact: Hardy Pearce, 703-648-4085,

Technology Literacy Challenge Grant Review. The Bureau of Indian Affairs distributed funds for a $1 million Technology Literacy Challenge Grant which involved submission of competitive proposals by Indian schools to the BIA. The proposals detailed how they would use a share of the funds to acquire technology and training to enhance the learning environment. Forty-four proposals were received. The National Science Foundation, Indian Health Service, and USGS provided people to review proposals and choose the top proposals based on criteria provided by BIA. Funds were distributed to five schools. A consortium of nine schools submitted one proposal, so a total of fourteen schools benefitted from the funds. USGS Contact: Lorna Kendrix, 703-648-6834,

EdNet. The BIA's Office of Indian Education (OIEP) is undertaking an exciting project called "Access Native America". This project has three parts: (1) school connectivity to the Internet; (2) education management; and most importantly, (3) school classroom applications. This project will not only improve overall school administration, but will provide the Native American children with new opportunities to learn and grow. The USGS is assisting the BIA in connecting Indian schools to the Department of Interior Network (DOINET) and the Internet through a project called EdNet. There are approximately 187 primary and secondary schools funded and operated by the OIEP for American Indian children. Of these, more than 20 have been connected to DOINET and the Internet by the BIA and the USGS. Once on the Internet, students may access the World Wide Web for educational and cross-cultural resources. 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. The USGS is providing the technical wide-area network (WAN) expertise to connect each of these schools to the DOINET/Internet. Additional schools are being added to the network at a rate of five schools per month. Contact: Tim Lee, 303-236-4955,

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 planning activities. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437;

National Indian Education Association. The Assistant Secretaries announced their agreement at the National Indian Education Association meeting in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in October 1996. The USGS had an exhibit booth, distributing educational materials directly to Indian students and educators. More specific requests for information were collected at the exhibit and subsequently filled by mailing information to the teachers. In conjunction with the meeting, the Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science and the USGS District Chief, visited the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and met with Tribal educators. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

General Coordination with BIA/OIEP. The needs of BIA educators and officials were discussed at meetings between the BIA and the USGS. The USGS hosted a tour of USGS headquarters facilities for BIA OIEP staff. The BIA officials were given educational materials as example of what resources are available from the USGS. The BIA regional resource staffers were given packets of information to discuss with and distribute to BIA schools during their regular visits to those schools. The USGS also sent copies of educational materials directly to each BIA school. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Technical Training for Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. The USGS provided ARC/INFO and ARCVIEW training to an employee of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan to assist the community in building the Tribal geographic information system (GIS). Contact: Jim Nicholas, 517-887-8906,

Mentoring for American Indian Students at the University of Michigan. Through a Partnership in Cultural Diversity, the Biological Resources Discipline of the USGS attempts to recruit and retain Indian students for the University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and to ensure their graduation. The partnership is a cooperative effort between the USGS Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, the Minnesota Regional Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the University. Contact: Director, Great Lakes Science Center, 313-994-331 ext. 206

Water Resources on the Turtle Mountain Reservation. The USGS, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa (Department of Natural Resources), and teachers on the Turtle Mountain Reservation cooperatively planned and conducted a water-resource program for 5th 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.

The program was presented three times; twice at the Turtle Mountain Community School and once at the Ojibwa School. About 175 5th graders went through the program. Groups of students (about 20 per group) rotated through three hands-on activities. The program consisted of a general water resources presentation and three rotating, hands-on activity stations. The general water resources presentation discussed ground water, water quality, surface water, and water use. The hands-on activities, lasting about 50 minutes each, were:

  1. Locating a new well. A fictitious Belcourt Drilling Company was asked by the city of Belcourt to find a new well for its water supply. The students looked at core samples to determine the best location for the new city well.
  2. Water quality. The Belcourt Drilling Company sent water samples to the "Belcourt Water Laboratory" for testing. The drilling company wanted to know which well produced the best drinking water. The students conducted several tests to identify the best water.
  3. Tracking water use. As team members of the "Belcourt City Engineers Department" the students had to track the water flow from the new well into homes. They also tracked the waste water from these homes.

Each student was given a water festival booklet which contained work sheets for each of the activities plus extra water-related games and puzzles. After the hands-on activities, the students were given a bag of material filled with bookmarks, posters, etc.

USGS also prepared a school calendar. Previously, the school had only a one-page calendar that listed some of the school activities. The calender that USGS prepared included all of the known activities. It has a picture of Belcourt Lake and the school and Tribe logos on top, with a page for each month below the picture. Months are named in English and in Chippewa. Each month challenges students with a water resource question. Answers are provided on the following month's page. Contact: Douglas Emerson, 701-250-7402,

Hydrology and GIS Training Program at Haskell Indian Nations University. The USGS Kansas Water Resources District provides advice as a member of the Natural Resources Advisory Board on natural resources curriculum issues and parttime salary support for a Natural Resources Instructor to the Haskell Indian Nations University. A USGS hydrologist also assisted in teaching GIS and water-quality concepts in ecology and other science lab classes at the University. The USGS Kansas Water Resources District participated in a career fair at Haskell in December 1997. The District is currently working to place several Haskell students in parttime and summer positions throughout the USGS. Contact: Thomas Trombley, 913-832-3551,

Promoting American Indian Science Education through South Dakota State University. The USGS' South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit participated in a South Dakota State University program titled "2+2+2" to help more American Indian students prepare for careers in agriculture 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 "2's" add up to a brighter future for American Indians. Contact: South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, 605-688-4515

Web and Internet Workshop for Indian Educators. USGS personnel conducted a workshop for the National Indian School Board Association's annual meeting held in Snowmass, Colorado, in July 1997. The USGS employees demonstrated techniques to familiarize teachers with using the World Wide Web and the Internet to obtain information for classroom use. The hands-on workshop used USGS web sites and information to present Web sites that show different levels and detail, including sites designed specifically for teachers and students; information related to regions or State; realtime water and earthquake data; and, sites that have geographic information related to national geography standards on location, place, land use, distribution of people, human impacts on land, and other resources. The group also learned to use the Internet to communicate with other schools. Contact: Tim Lee, 303-236-4955,

National Training Center. Each year, the USGS Water Resources Discipline's National Training Center offers 75 to 100 courses relating to water resources. The courses are made available to cooperators of the USGS, including Tribes and the BIA. In 1997, as in other years, American Indians participated in some of the training courses. The largest American Indian participation (6 individuals) was for the class "water-quality methods for ground-water and surface water." Contact: Russel Smith, 303-236-4932 ext. 246,

Intern from Little Big Horn College. The Little Big Horn College sponsored a summer internship for a member of the Crow (Absarokee) Tribe. As an intern with scientists of the USGS BRD, the intern collected plants, measured aquatic primary production, estimated canopy cover with a densitometer, collected aquatic insects, and pumped the stomachs of fishes. These are common skills and tools used by any scientist who will be involved in broad ecological research. Contact: Leader, Oregon Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 541-688-4515

Cooperative Education Assistance (CEA). Six Native Americans were trained in natural resources management under the Cooperative Education Assistance (CEA) program at the USGS Biological Resources Discipline's Montana State University Cooperative Fishery Unit. One of the Indian students graduated and was employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that funded the CEA venture. Additionally, the BRD Oregon Cooperative Unit developed a CEA for a Master of Science candidate. The student will soon graduate and will be employed as a fisheries biologist by his tribe, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Contact: Leader, Montana Cooperative Fishery Research Unit, 406-994-3191

Mentoring Isleta student. A graduate student from the Pueblo of Isleta was assisted by the USGS BRD New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit in her telemetry studies of exotic ungulates (non-native hoofed animals) in Southern New Mexico as part of her graduate curriculum. Contact: Leader, New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 505-646-6053

Water Resources Technician Training in New Mexico. Hydrologists from the USGS New Mexico and South Dakota Districts provide annual training to American Indian personnel brought to New Mexico State University by the BIA for training. The USGS participation in the training includes providing instructors in ground-water, water-quality, and surface-water techniques. Contact: Linda Weiss, 505-262-5300,

Computer Technology Enhancement and Training. Employees of the BRD assisted in connecting the Havasupai Tribe to the Internet. The BRD employees carried donated computers 9 miles down the Grand Canyon, connected the Tribal computer system, and trained the Tribe's natural resources division staff in the use of the hardware. The BRD personnel also trained Tribal governments on the Colorado Plateau on using the Internet for research on natural resource and environmental topics. BRD assisted Dineh-Care, a grass roots Tribal group, in establishing a geographic information system to monitor environmental hazards that exist in the Four Corners region. Future plans call for Internet training for natural resources and environmental offices of the Hualapai and Jicarilla Apache Tribes. Contact: Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 541-750-7307

American Indian Training Program for College Students. The USGS' Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit has a Native American Training Program open to college students who are recommended by Tribal Councils or individual Tribal members. The most important criteria for entering the program is a desire to complete an undergraduate or graduate degree in natural resource management at the University of Arizona. The program is one of the USGS Biological Resources Discipline's most successful educational ventures:

  1. The Unit recently graduated a Ph.D. student who is Yaqui and Tohono O'odham (Papago). He is now an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working on a refuge adjacent to the Tohono O'odham Nation.
  2. A member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe is expected to complete his Masters Degree in 1998. The student is financially supported a Cooperative Education Agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
  3. The Arizona Unit is also sponsoring a Masters candidate who is African-American and Nanticoke Lenai-Lenape ( New Jersey). She is expected to complete a Masters degree in early 1998.
  4. The Unit's Minority Training Program has the following tribes represented among the student body:
    White Mountain Apache (4), Navajo (2), and Yaqui (1). Nine American Indian students have obtained Bachelor of Science degrees through this program. These graduates represent the Navajo, Nez Perce, Yaqui, Tohono O'odham, Apache, Pima, and White Mountain Apache Tribes.

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

Water Resource Training at Cyspus. A USGS scientist has taught American Indians at a BIA training course held annually at the Cyspus Conference and Learning Center in Washington. Each year, USGS instructors teach a 1-week introductory course on hydrologic data collection and computation techniques. The USGS hydrologist demonstrated the use and calibration of water-quality. He also demonstrated procedures for collecting representative stream water samples and for processing and preserving water samples for chemical analyses. Contact: Clyde Doyle, 503-251-3226,

Education Materials for the Spokane and Colville Tribes. The USGS provided educational materials that were distributed by the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science to the Spokane Tribe of Indians and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. Contact: Sue Marcus, 703-648-4437,

Alaska Inter-Tribal Youth Practicum. The USGS participated in the Alaskan Inter-Tribal Youth Practicum at the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Kenai Work Station in July 1997. The purpose of the Practicum was to give Native Alaskan teenagers the experience of working in teams to solve natural resource management issues. To accomplish this, the USFS invited other resource agencies to participate and act as scientific advisors. There were 21 students from 11 different tribes. The USGS participant sought out students who were interested in science and provided special field opportunities for them so that they had the opportunity to learn about careers in science. Contact: Elenora Robbins, 703- 648-6527,

Coordination with the Alaska Native Science Commission. Ms Patricia Longley-Cochran, the Director of the Alaska Native Science Commission participated in the annual meeting of the USGS BRD Alaska Biological Science Center to make Federal research biologists more aware of Native Alaskans resources and values. Ms Longley-Cochran described Alaska Native culture and the role of traditional ecological knowledge in understanding the ecological and cultural relationships between Alaska's fish and wildlife and Alaska Natives. Contact: Director, Alaska Biological Science Center, 907-786-3512

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