Forest Service celebrates side-by-side work with Indian tribes


Posted by Deidra L. McGee, Office of Communication, US Forest Service in Forestry

Feb 21 2017

Leech Lake Wildland Fire Team members George Jacobs, Tim Bebeau, Charlie Blackwell and Daniel Wind. (Courtesy of the Leech Lake Wildland Fire Team)

Building trust and building relationships are key factors in working with Indian tribes across the country. One of the most historic partnerships between the US Forest Service and an Indian tribe was forged between the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Chippewa National Forest.

“This [partnership] basically took over 100 years to manufacture, ”said Fred Clark, director of the tribal relations office for the forest service. “It allows the Forest Service and the Tribe to move forward towards a positive future, without forgetting the history that has brought us here. “

Since 2010.

By blending Western science with the traditional knowledge of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, the Forest Service builds relationships and creates a sustainable environment for tribal members and non-Native Americans for present and future generations. .

The partnership is committed to working together in many areas, including hiring tribal members, contracting with the tribe, technology transfer, training and more.

In 1908, the Federation of Women’s Clubs lobbied to create the Minnesota National Forest on the Leech Lake Preserve, now known as the Chippewa National Forest. Although many national forests were cut from ancestral Indian lands and many still overlap and / or intertwine with tribal lands, the Chippewa National Forest is the only national forest that encompasses almost an entire Indian reservation in the region. within its limits.

The federal government recognizes 566 Native American and Native Alaskan tribes. The Forest Service works with tribes in areas such as creating a tribal climate change roadmap; create a guide for tribes working on partnership projects; understand how sacred sites overlap with historical preservation laws; and the recruitment into the Forest Service of indigenous people who are committed to giving back to their tribal communities.

“Many tribes have no land, no reserves, no treaty rights and yet they still have vibrant cultures,” Clark said. “Our agency has a fiduciary responsibility to them as well as to those with land and treaties.”

“We owe it to ourselves and our great land to continue to build relationships with the tribes as we live up to our Forest Service motto: ‘Take care of the land and serve the people’. “

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