Office of Tribal Relations: Helping to build long term collaborative partnerships with Tribes.

Tribal Relations News - Summer 2010

OTR Director's Corner

By Fred Clark, Director, Office of Tribal Relations

Occasionally, a real jewel comes through in the rockslide of email. One such jewel landed in my inbox recently, a piece by Mervyn L. Tano, of the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management. This piece, titled On Becoming A Tribal Natural Resource Manager: Some Friendly Advice from a Long-Time Observer, included its own repeated jewel, this time from historian Robert V. Daniels, from his work Studying History: How and Why. Daniels had this to offer:

“History is the memory of human group experience. If it is forgotten or ignored, we cease in that measure to be human. Without history we have no knowledge of who we are or how we came to be, like victims of collective amnesia groping in the dark for our identity… History is a source of inspiration, as it holds up to us the tradition and the glory, the clashing passions and heroic exploits of past generations. In it we find the drama of true life.”

I found this quote from Daniels especially timely because I have initiated the writing of an Administrative History of the Forest Service Tribal Relations Program. Tribal Relations in the Forest Service is tied inextricably to the history of Federal/Tribal relations, to the changing political structures in the three branches of the Federal government, to the waves of new initiatives and funding streams in the Agency, to the growing self-governance and self-determination of Tribal governments, and to a variety of international trends. Several of the early leaders in Forest Service Tribal Relations are available, still vibrant, and have perspectives to share; we need to gather those, record those, and save them as we move to new eras and epochs in this endeavor. Some of our original group are now gone; we’ve already missed an opportunity to involve them directly, but their memories are part of our community of practice. We will need your help to bring this to fruition.*

Now is a good time to start on this history, not only because there are still so many of the original leaders still around, but because we may be on the cusp of a new phase. Along with the Tribal Leaders’ Summit and the Presidential Memorandum on Consultation, the resulting Action Plans from each of the Departments (including USDA) and drafting of a new USDA policy on Tribal Consultation, Coordination, and Collaboration, there are changes at the international level. Among those changes is the White House’s coordinated review of the U.S. government’s position on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

I was honored to be part of the interdepartmental delegation assigned to conduct the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review for the UN Commission on Human Rights earlier this year. The delegation attended listening sessions in Albuquerque and Window Rock and heard hundreds of testimonials of human rights issues in Native America, many of which can be traced to the long-term systemic and systematic separation of Tribal governance from traditional Tribal lands. The UNDRIP came up in these meetings over and over, along with concerns about predatory behavior of towns that border reservations, violence against women, systemic restrictions from economic development, and other topics. The ongoing affects of historical trauma experienced by indigenous communities across the United States was a prominent theme, and one that we need to keep in mind in our work within the Forest Service and with our partners.

The administrative history of the Tribal Relations Program will, I hope, help establish a baseline for this point in our development, and will provide a reference point for us to look back on in future years.

* If you have information/recollections you would like to contribute to the Administrative History of the Forest Service Tribal Relations Program, contact Fred Clark at fclark@fs.fed.us.

In This Edition

Paving the Way for Respectful and Honorable Tribal Relations

By Lillian Petershoare, Tribal Relations Specialist

Detail of Eagle and Raven on hand-carved staffs.
Detail of Eagle and Raven on hand-carved staffs. Photo by Keith Riggs.

Central Council President Emeritus Ed Thomas holds the Raven staff and President Bill Martin holds the Eagle staff as Deputy Regional Forester Paul Brewster and Tribal Liaison Donald Frank look on.
Central Council President Emeritus Ed Thomas holds the Raven staff and President Bill Martin holds the Eagle staff as Deputy Regional Forester Paul Brewster and Tribal Liaison Donald Frank look on. Photo courtesy of Jodi Garrison with Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

A humble, heartfelt acknowledgement of a not-so-distant wrongdoing. A gracious acceptance by the wronged. Ceremonial gifts to commemorate the acknowledgement: hand carved staffs, designed and carved by a Forest Service employee with assistance from his family and a local resident carver. So began another important chapter in the healing process between the Alaska Natives of Southeast Alaska and the Forest Service.

On April 21, 2010, at the 75th Tribal Assembly of Central Council Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Alaska Region Deputy Regional Forester Paul Brewster, and Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole presented Central Council President Bill Martin and President Emeritus Ed Thomas with hand-carved eagle and raven staffs. The eagle and raven, known as the lovebirds, are powerful crests in Southeast Alaska; they are a unifying symbol honoring balance, and they comprise the Central Council logo. The staffs commemorate the beginnings of a healing process that addressed the profound cultural repercussions of the Forest Service’s removal of Alaska Native fish camps and smokehouses over 50 years ago.

The healing process began back in 2008 when an Acknowledgement Ceremony was held on the subject of the fish camp and smokehouse removal. At that event, Regional Forester Dennis E. Bschor publicly acknowledged that the Forest Service removed Alaska Native fish camps and smokehouses in Southeast Alaska between the 1930s to the 1960s. These actions were taken in accordance with national laws and regulations of that time.

The removal of the seasonal camps had a devastating impact on Southeast Alaska Natives and their “Our Food is Our Way of Life” culture. In his 2008 speech, Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole announced, “In the case of fish camps and smokehouses, we now understand how important they are as an essential aspect of the traditional life. We hope we can find opportunities for families to work together harvesting fish, to pass cultural knowledge from one generation to the next, and to learn respectful ways of harvesting and processing traditional foods.”

Forrest Cole has directed district rangers and archaeologists on the Tongass National Forest to continue to work with Elders and others to document the destruction of fish camps, smokehouses, and cabins in every community in order to obtain a more complete understanding of what occurred. Through government-to-government consultation with the local federally recognized Tribes, the Tongass will continue to work toward local solutions for furthering the healing. While the agency “cannot provide restitution or give back land,” Forest Cole is encouraging district rangers on the Tongass National Forest to “be creative in working out solutions to proposals through a variety of stewardship programs and partnerships.”

Donald Frank, Forest Service Tribal Liaison for Admiralty National Monument and Angoon resident carver Jamie Daniels, created the eagle and raven staffs commemorating the 2008 Acknowledgement Ceremony. Donald’s son Steve Frank assisted with the carving and his daughter Rose Frank assisted in painting the staffs. Donald and his brother-in-law Peter McCluskey Jr. aided Paul Brewster and Forrest Cole in the presentation of the staffs.

During the staff presentation at the Tribal Assembly welcoming dinner, Paul Brewster expressed his conviction that “by acknowledging the past, Central Council and the Forest Service have paved the way for respectful and honorable relationships, and continued partnerships. My hope is that these staffs will serve as a powerful symbol for our future relations.”

The new Regional Forester Beth Pendleton intends to build on this legacy of sensitivity and receptivity to Alaska Native concerns.

For more information, contact Lillian Petershoare at 907-586-7089 or lpetershoare@fs.fed.us.

Back to top

U.S. Forest Service and College of Menominee Nation Sign Second Five-year Partnership Agreement

On November 13, 2009, four divisions of the U.S. Forest Service signed their second five-year Memorandum of Understanding with the College of Menominee Nation, Keshena Wisconsin. The four Forest Service units include: Forest Products Laboratory, Northern Research Station, Eastern Region of the National Forest System, and Northeast Area State and Private Forestry.

Verna Fower receives a plaque presented by Chris Risbrudt.
Verna Fower, President, College of Menominee Nation, receives a plaque presented by Chris Risbrudt, Director, Forest Products Laboratory. Photo by Mike Dockry.

Community members, Menominee leaders, Forest Service representatives, and College of Menominee Nation faculty, staff, and students attended the signing ceremony. The event included campus tours, refreshments, presentations and a luncheon with traditional foods. Melissa Cook, College of Menominee Nation’s Sustainable Development Institute Director, and Mike Dockry, Forest Service Liaison to the College of Menominee Nation, both made presentations describing the partnership’s history and accomplishments. Highlights of the partnership include student internship experiences, traditional non-timber forest products and indigenous wisdom research, and technical outreach to tribal communities. Kent Connaughton, Region 9 Regional Forester, Chris D. Risbrudt, Director, Forest Products Laboratory, and Tom Schmidt, Assistant Director, Northern Research Station, discussed how the research, education, and outreach projects benefit each of their units, the Forest Service as a whole, and Indian tribes. Dr. Verna Fowler, Founding President of the College of Menominee Nation, provided words of wisdom for strengthening the partnership. Other important attendees included: Fred Clark, Director of U.S. Forest Service Office of Tribal Relations; Ted Wegner, Assistant Director, Forest Products Laboratory; Lisa Waukau, then-Menominee Tribal Chairwoman; Ada Deer, Menominee Leader; and Leon Fowler, College of Menominee Nation student, hand-drum player, and ITC Truman Picard scholarship recipient.

The formal partnership between the College of Menominee Nation and the Forest Service dates back to 2003 when the first Memorandum of Understanding was signed to facilitate the development of the Center for First Americans Forestlands (CFAF), an educational research center focused on sustainable forestry practices and sustainable forest products utilization on tribal forestlands. The Center is housed within the College of Menominee Nation. The Center’s goal is to initiate research, provide technical assistance, education, and policy analysis to stakeholder groups. The stakeholder groups include Indian tribes; tribal forest and land managers; Indian allottees of forested lands; Indian reservations and communities within or adjacent to national forest boundaries; Tribal Colleges and Universities and other educational institutions; and the broad community of interest in forest management, products, harvest, and utilization.

The 2009 Memorandum of Understanding continues to focus partnership projects on education, research, technical assistance, and indigenous wisdom for sustainable forestry and sustainable forest products. It also expands the partnership to focus on cross boundary natural and cultural resource management, to expand the engagement of tribal communities in forest management, and to develop and recruit a diverse and skilled workforce for Indian tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Partnership projects over the next five years will focus on the opportunities and impacts for Indian communities in several theme areas: climate change, invasive species, water quality and quantity, green building and design, Native forestry, forest products utilization, values and decision-making, environmental economics, ecosystem services, social responsive forest management and utilization, and training.

For more information about the Forest Service Partnership with the College of Menominee Nation, please visit www.sustainabledevelopmentinstitute.org, or contact Mike Dockry at mdockry@fs.fed.us or at 715-799-6226 ext. 3222.

Back to top

Region 5 Hosts Tribal Awareness Day

By Merv George, Tribal Relations Program Manager, Region 5

Merv George, Dirk Charlie, and Glenn Moore II baking fish.
Merv George, R5 Tribal Relations Program Manager; Dirk Charlie, Tribal Relations Program Manager, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests; and event presenter Glenn Moore II. Photo by Benny Perez.

On November 10, 2009, the Forest Service (FS) Pacific Southwest Region hosted a Tribal Awareness Day at the Regional Office on Mare Island, California. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Region 5 Tribal Relations and Civil Rights Departments of the Forest Service, was convened to celebrate and honor Native American Heritage Month.

This year’s attendees, who included Regional Office staff and all individual Region 5 Tribal Relations Forest Managers, gathered at the Regional Office to take part in a traditional salmon bake, enjoy a redwood dugout canoe display and presentation, watch the documentary “Upstream Battle” showcasing Klamath salmon issues, and to listen to guest speaker presentations.

This year’s presenters were Jeff Mitchell, Klamath Tribes Councilman and Administrator for the Klamath River Inter-Tribal Fish & Water Commission; and Glenn Moore II, a Hoopa/Yurok tribal fisherman and canoe builder. Mr. Mitchell gave an overview and update of the Klamath River and the efforts to remove the Klamath River Dams in order to protect salmon. Mr. Moore gave a traditional perspective about salmon and what the fish mean to Native people on the Klamath River. He also displayed a redwood dugout canoe that he built with his grandfather.

Region 5 Regional Forester Randy Moore also shared his perspective on Native cultures and how important it is to have a good working relationship with Tribes.

Approximately 100 employees attended the day’s events, with many getting the opportunity to sample traditionally cooked salmon for the first time! With California being home to over 200 Tribes, our hope is that this successful Native event was the first of many to occur at the Region 5 Regional Office.

Back to top

New Video Produced by Hopi Filmmaker Documents Tribal/Kaibab National Forest Partnership

North Kaibab District Ranger Tim Short and the Kaibab Heritage Resources Team with representatives from the Hopi Tribe Cultural Resource Advisory Task Team in Snake Gulch.
North Kaibab District Ranger Tim Short and the Kaibab Heritage Resources Team with representatives from the Hopi Tribe Cultural Resource Advisory Task Team in Snake Gulch on the North Kaibab Ranger District. Photo by Dustin Burger, Range, North Kaibab Ranger District, Kaibab National Forest.

A new short video by award-winning Hopi filmmaker Victor Masayesva that documents land management collaboration between the Kaibab National Forest and the Hopi Tribe is now available for viewing on the Forest’s website. In 2009, a multi-day field visit was conducted by employees from the Kaibab National Forest and members of the Hopi Tribe Cultural Resources Advisory Task Team (CRATT) to monitor ancestral sites of the Hopi within Snake Gulch Canyon, in the Kanab Creek Wilderness area. The CRATT team, comprised of five tribal representatives from different Hopi villages, and nine Kaibab employees, including North Kaibab District Ranger Tim Short, walked the land together, shared information and discussed land management goals.

Snake Gulch Canyon, a National Register Historic District in the North Kaibab Ranger District, contains thousands of carved and painted petroglyphs and pictographs. Many of these ancient images were created by ancestral Hopis; they continue to have significance to the Hopi today. The collaboration between the Kaibab and the Hopi Tribe includes the incorporation of tribal concepts and recommendations into the Forest’s Land Management Plan revision process.

Previous works by filmmaker Victor Masayesva, who resides in the village of Hoatvela, have received national and international acclaim. This video was funding through retained commercial filming fees; National Forests are able to retain fees from Special Use Permits issued to filming companies, and the Regional Office collects five percent of those fees. Once collected, these fees can be used to promote film or video productions on National Forest System Lands.

Dan Meza, Tribal Relations Program Manager for the Southwestern Region, commented on the development and significance of the project: “Judy Yandoh, Special Uses Permit Program Manager in the Southwestern Regional Office, worked with Tribal Relations to identify tribal partnerships and highlight cooperative work,” Meza said. “The collaboration shown in the video is only one example of the many outstanding relationships the Kaibab Forest has with neighboring Tribes.”

See the Snake Gulch Video…

Back to top

This periodic report provides Agencies and partners an update of National Forest Service Tribal Relations issues, projects, and activities. The information contained within this report is public information and may be shared with members of the public and other interested parties. For further questions and inquiries, please contact Fred Clark at fclark@fs.fed.us, and at (202) 205-1514.


U.S. Forest Service Tribal Relations U.S. Forest Service Tribal Relations