The main hosts for this year’s reunion were the Utah National Guard and the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation. Hill Air Force Base, Dugway Proving Ground and Tooele Army Depot co-hosted the event.
Members of the Confederate Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, the Crow Tribe, the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah and the Skull Valley Band of Goshute were in attendance. A representative of the Shivwits Band, which is associated with the Paiutes, was also present, along with the Utah Department of Indian Affairs and the Utah Office of Historic Preservation.
Federal agencies are required by law to review the impact of all their activities and projects on cultural resources – archeology, architecture and other areas of past human activity – on the lands they manage, Anya Kitterman said, Head of Hill AFB’s Cultural Resources Program. This means that they must consult with Native American tribes who claim traditional affiliation with land managed by the agencies.
“The Air Force is currently consulting 21 different tribes, spanning eight western states, which have ancestral and permanent ties to the lands managed by Hill AFB, including the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR),” a- she declared. “We are continually looking for ways to improve and increase dialogue so that tribes feel their voice is heard.”
Kitterman said much of this consultation is done by mail, email and phone calls, but face-to-face meetings, such as the American Indian Annual Meeting and the Utah Quarterly Tribal Meetings, allow for more in-depth dialogue between tribal chiefs and facility leaders. .
Hill AFB started the annual meetings 11 years ago and over time has invited other DOD agencies in Utah to participate. This year’s meeting included discussions between the DOD and tribal representatives on upcoming projects, site visits and the protection of important tribal sites and areas.
There was also a guided tour of the petroglyphs in Box Elder County and workshops featuring Native American crafts and food. The tribes also received information about a recent archaeological dig at UTTR which uncovered evidence of a hearth used for cooking that dated back 12,300 years.
“The tribes believe it is vital that we understand their culture and point of view so that we can fully protect and manage the resources they find so precious and, in many cases, they may regard them as sacred,” Kitterman said. “One-on-one conversations and storytelling help military representatives better understand and appreciate how tribes see the world around them. “
Col. David Dunklee, the 75th Wing Air Base Vice Commander, represented Hill AFB and Col. Jennifer Hammerstedt, the installation commander, at his first annual meeting. He said it was an honor to participate where the Air Force had the opportunity “to share our continued efforts to preserve and care for the vast and precious lands entrusted to us.”
Dunklee said the meeting helped build relationships and build trust with the different nations represented.
“The key to its success is effective communication,” he said. “I left the meeting with the greatest respect for the proud heritage of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation and the 20 other tribes with a connection to the Hill AFB mission. I echo Colonel Hammerstedt’s commitment to strengthening the relationship in the future.
Kitterman, who is Hill AFB’s archaeologist, has been attending the annual meeting for three years now, which she says has helped her gain great respect for the tribes.
“Many of them had to fight on the brink of extinction just to be recognized,” she said. “Yet I have seen them continue to grow and maintain their culture. Their appreciation of the larger landscape and the interconnectedness of the world around them has helped me become a better cultural resource manager and archaeologist by broadening my own perspective. I look forward to all the meetings to come.