Building Tribal and NPS Relationships

"You hear me speak. But do you hear me feel?"*

In order to build relationships with American Indian tribes and effectively consult with them, NPS personnel need to have knowledge of American Indian culture and history, organizational protocols, potential cultural barriers to communication, conflict resolution, and how to develop a collaborative environment based on trust and mutual respect. To address that need, a pilot training course entitled "Building Tribal and NPS Relationships" was offered by the Midwest Region Indian Advisory Group (MWAIG) in October, 2014. Pipestone National Monument and the NPS Learning and Development program in Washington, DC provided funding for the pilot course.

Glen Livermont, Superintendent of Pipestone National Monument and Mark Calamia, PhD, Cultural Anthropologist and Tribal Liaison at the Monument, developed this pilot course in coordination with Roberta Reyes Cordero, JD of Interpersonal to Intercultural Communication and Anita Dragan of AD Consulting. Livermont and Calamia approached specific American Indian speakers willing to share their personal experiences. Calamia organized and coordinated most of the preparation for the training and served as facilitator each day.

Cordero and Dragan, both Native American, taught participants about Native American history, tribes and the federal government, intercultural communication and effectiveness, and applied government-to-government consultation. Joined by Faith Spotted Eagle (Yankton Sioux Elder), they also addressed Historical Trauma in Indian country. A conceptual overview of the topic was followed by a clinical perspective of its ongoing effects on individuals, families, tribes, and communities. The implications of this trauma for effective tribal consultation were also discussed.

Twenty-four NPS participants, primarily from the Midwest Region, learned through interactive lecture, group discussion, and presentations by Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, tribal elders, and other tribal members from across the country as they related their first hand experiences in consulting with federal agencies, including NPS. National Park Service employees and other experts also spoke.

Presenters included (in alphabetical order) –
  • Clyde Bellecourt (Ceremonial Use and Special Permit Holder)
  • Roberta Reyes Cordero, JD (Interpersonal to Intercultural Communication)
  • Anita Dragan (AD Consulting)
  • Pete Fee (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska Tribal Elder)
  • Jim Jandereau (Bear Butte State Park, Manager South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks)
  • Loretta Jackson Kelly (Hualapai Indian Tribe Tribal Historic Preservation Officer)
  • Glen Livermont (Pipestone National Monument Superintendent)
  • Richard Meyers, PhD (Coordinator of the American Indian Studies Program at South Dakota State University)
  • Armand Minthorn (Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Board of Trustees Member)
  • Peter Piño (Zia Pueblo, New Mexico elder)
  • Tom Richter (NPS Midwest Region Chief of Interpretation and Education)
  • George Seivers (NPS Midwest Regional Office Contracting &Support Services)
  • Faith Spotted Eagle (Yankton Sioux Elder)
  • Patty Trap (Acting NPS Midwest Regional Director)
  • Steve Vance (Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Tribal Historic Preservation Officer)
  • Joe Watkins, PhD (NPS Chief of Tribal Relations and American Cultures)
  • Gordon Yellowman (Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes' Elder)
  • Curley Youpee (Fort Peck Sioux and Assiniboine Tribes Cultural Resources Director)

*Quote from poem entitled "Die Dichterin" (The Woman Poet) by Gertrud Kolmar. A German Jew, Gertrud Kolmar was a poet and writer. She was killed at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in March 1943.

Last updated: August 19, 2015