Georgiana Pongyesa, NAGPRA Coordinator, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, Integrating Tribal Monitors into Archeological Survey
Published June 5, 2018
Principal Chief James R. Floyd of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation
TULSA, Okla. On May 21-25, 2018, Principal Chief James R. Floyd of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation welcomed everyone to the River Spirit Casino Resort in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Over 300 attendees participated including 29 Tribes, 35 state and federal agencies including archeological and environmental consultants.
The inspiration for this event is explained in the FS publication ‘Bridging the Gaps That Divide.’ It states, “the opportunity to forge a new partnership arose in 2001, when during the revision of the Ouachita and Ozark St. Francis National Forests’ respective land and resource management plans, the Forests were asked to conduct face-to-face consultations on the Arkansas and Oklahoma homelands of the federally-recognized Oklahoma Tribes. The management of cultural and natural resources is not only extremely important to the Forests, but also to many Tribes that were removed from their homelands, making the development of a viable forum that permitted both formal and informal dialogues between the USFS and the Tribes to be developed”.
Several land management and cultural preservation presentations were shared on the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and protection of sacred spaces.
Dr. Ian Thompson, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, Choctaw Nation
presented, “Holistic Management: A Traditional Choctaw Approach”. He highlighted the Growing Hope Initiative and the Choctaw Nation Indigenous Immersion Camp, Yakni Amiti Aiikhvna adding, “I would like to close with a statement from Choctaw Chief George Harkins that he made on the trail of tears. He said, I could cheerfully hope that those of another age and generation may not feel the effects of those oppressive measures that have been so illiberally dealt out to us; and that peace and happiness may be their reward. I think that we are realizing that today through the partnerships with Tribes and federal agencies and especially through To Bridge a Gap. We are recognizing this goal that our leader had 170 years ago.”
On closing day, Gordon Yellowman, Southern Cheyenne Chief discussed tribal cultural sensitivity, “when we speak our language, we speak in terms of the subject matter, the place, the sacredness, and most of all the uniqueness of the relationship that we have with that land, you call it cultural landscapes, we call it sacred sites.” Finally, Judge Bigler, Muscogee (Creek) Nation, emphasized the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s as an effective tool to protect the future of tribal nations.
The Hopi “Waters for Life” Springs Restoration Partnership presented by Georgiana Pongtvesa, Hopi Cultural Preservation Office, and Michael Lyndon, Kaibab National Forest. Forest celebrated tribal youth and elders protecting ancestral sites and restoring two natural springs.
The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma will co-host the 2019 To Bridge a Gap Meeting in Wyandott, Oklahoma.
Gano Jimmesey (left) Perez Jr., MCN GIS Cultural Technician, Melyssa Navis (right), U.S.A.C.E. Native American SEPM
Creek Fiddle Dance (Hayeckv-Pvnkv) With Leon Bell.