Summer 2019 – Native American Fish & Wildlife Society

Native American Fish & Wildlife Society




Elveda Martinez, Southwest Region Board Director


Society Members: I hope this message gets to you wherever you’re at in this great world of ours. For starters, I’d like to introduce myself to those of you that don’t know me. I’m a member of the Walker River Paiute Tribe of Nevada. We’re located 100 miles southeast of Reno, on your way to Las Vegas. Our reservation consists of 325,000 acres and consists of high desert lands, is dissected by the Walker River which travels down to a desert terminal lake called Walker Lake and the Wassuk Mountain Range borders our western boundary. It is really a beautiful place. I am lucky that my two brothers and sister also live here in our reservation town of Schurz; a total of 750 people live here. I work for my tribe in our Water Resources Department which oversees water rights, irrigation, geothermal, water quality, non-point source, range management, conservation, grant writing, college interns, agriculture development, climate change and resource management. I’ve worked for my tribe on and off since 1981.


Our Tribe has been a member of the Society since the early days. I’ve served as a Southwest Regional Director for 6 years and have also served as an officer (Secretary/Treasurer) for a couple of years. At this year’s board meeting in Chandler, Arizona I was voted in (via of a coin flip) as the President. I take this position very seriously and am truly honored and humbled. There are so many important issues that I want us to be a part of. The Society has so many great members with great backgrounds, education and experience. I want you all to be a “moving force” and to be involved.


The main issue on our plate right now is the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA). If this act is passed in Congress with the Tribal language that has been included that asks for $97.5 million annual dollars for Tribes, we are all going to benefit. This will allow us to work on many fish, wildlife, habitat, conservation and educational projects; it will be a historical win for us. This is going to take “a village” (or many villages) to get it passed. You will be contacted soon; we are going to need letters of support, phone calls to your Senators and Representatives and emails.


I’d like to thank our Southwest Region and the Gila River Indian Community for sponsoring and hosting this year’s 37th Annual National Conference. Our theme was “Native Women: Through the Hands of Our Grandmothers, Mothers and Daughters – We Are the Stewards of Mother Earth”. Many of our general sessions highlighted women who are involved in the fish, wildlife and natural resources fields of work. Special thanks to our keynote speaker Jamie Arrive, Wildlife Biologist with the Ute Indian Tribe Fish and Wildlife from Ft. Duchesne, Utah. She is a mother, hunter and provider. She also works with educating adults and children about hunting. It’s important to provide meat for her family and for others that need food; she believes in subsistence hunting. She makes sure that those that help their department are provided a good meal. She stressed “food is not just for ourselves, but for our friends, visitors that those that work for us; we need to share and provide to elders and those in need as well.”


With that, I am hoping that you all continue to honor and respect the women who are important in your lives and those that you may meet for the first time.

The conference allowed for a lot of great presentations and from those we all learn. I was able to learn about the serious impacts of Climate Change and how it is impacting people, communities, fish, wildlife, plants, habitat, Traditional ways, weather and our lands. We are hoping to develop a Climate Change Initiative for the Society. Having speakers from every region present on Climate Change stressed that we as Native people need to get involved and have the opportunity to work for the future of all living things.


I want to hear from you on what you’d like to see from the Society; please email me at [email protected].


Respectfully….Elveda Martinez, President & SW Regional Director




Greetings!  I want to start by introducing myself.  My name is Julie Thorstenson and I am a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Nation in northcentral South Dakota.  I hold Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees in Biological Sciences from South Dakota State University.  I have worked in Indian Country my entire life, beginning my career as a Habitat Wildlife Biologist for my Tribe’s Game, Fish and Parks Department.  Although my career path has taken me into academics, administration and healthcare, I am very pleased the Creator has circled me back to the wildlife and natural resource field.

I am truly excited to serve as the Executive Director for the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.  I was active in the Society during my time as a Biologist and sat on the Board of Directors as a Great Plains Regional Director in 2007-2009.  I started this position in May with my first duty being the National Conference.  Wopila Gila River Indian Community and the Southwest Region for hosting an awesome conference.  It was inspiring to hear all the accomplishments happening by Tribal wildlife and fisheries managers across the nation.  It was also a little disheartening hearing that Tribal wildlife and fisheries programs are still facing a significant lack of funding.  One of the Society’s top priorities is working to get the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) funded.

 RAWA – HR 3742 was introduced July 12, 2019 by Representatives Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).  The bill will dedicate $1.3 billion annually to state fish and wildlife agencies to implement their science-based wildlife action plans and an additional  $97.5 million for tribal fish and wildlife managers to conserve fish and wildlife on tribal lands and waters.  This will provide dedicated funding, so state and tribal wildlife managers can proactively conserve fish and wildlife species of greatest conservation need in a voluntary, non-regulatory manner before federal listing under the Endangered Species Act is warranted.  All of this can be done without additional taxes.

How You Can Help:

As a member of the Society you can help by:

  1. Have your Tribe submit a letter of support for RAWA by August 30, 2019.
  2. Submit letters to your State’s Senators and Representatives asking them to sign on as co-sponsor or cc them on your letter of support.
  3. Sign on as an individual Scientist for support here
  4. Promote RAWA with #RecoverWildlife

The Society can provide you with sample letters of support and help answer questions related to RAWA.  This legislation will finally help remedy inequity in conservation funding for Tribes and help Tribes play a leadership role in recovering America’s wildlife.

We are focused on rebuilding the Society and making sure we provide a value-added membership.  There is a lot of work to be done but I am happy to see the commitment to the Society and its mission is still very much alive and well.

I have a lot of ideas on how to better serve our current members while increasing our membership.  If you have any suggestions, I welcome them all.  I am excited to get to each of the Regions this year and see past friends and make new ones.

I wish you the best as we enter the fall season.

My best,

Julie Thorstenson, PhD

Executive Director




It was one of the Society’s largest conferences with 228 participants that attended the 37th Annual National Native American Fish and Wildlife Society Conference held in Phoenix, AZ. This year’s event was sponsored by the NAFWS Southwest Region and was hosted by the Gila River Indian Community on May 20-23, 2019. The conference theme, Native Women: Through the Hands of our Grandmothers, Mothers, and Daughters – We are the Stewards of Mother Earth, served as the topic for several of the sessions.

Preliminary conference workshops took place on May 20 on Tribal Feral Horse Management Issues and Climate Change Issues. Each session drew 50 or more participants.

The climate change session included representatives from seven areas of the U.S., Southeast, Southwest, Great Plains, Alaska, Great Lakes, Pacific Northwest, and Northeast. Presenters from the various tribes discussed issues they are dealing with in regards to changes in climate such as  affects on animal habitats, animal populations, plants and vegetation changes. Also,  protection for cultural food sources, hotter summer months, more pollen, more wildfires, and tribes are utilizing traditional ecological knowledge, and several tribes are working toward developing climate adaptation plans.

Opening ceremony for the conference featured welcome remarks by Stephen R. Lewis, Governor, Gila River Indian Community who talked about his tribe’s historic water settlement back in the year 2004 which restored water rights for the tribe. Lewis said that his tribe knows full well about being water warriors, “for our land, for our animals, for all of our living beings and for our fragile environment here in the beautiful Sonoran Desert.”

Governor Lewis also praised those who are first responders, police and all officers, and asked the audience to give them a round of applause for the work they do. “There is a lot of criminal activity that we deal with here, said Lewis, “drug trafficking, human smuggling and this takes a toll on our land.”

He praised the tribe’s canal system which the tribe is still working on where water is being stored in aquifers is to be used when needed. And through this canal system the tribe is bringing back the riparian and wetland areas which he said, “in the space of less than two years, we’re having over 40 species of birds that are coming back and the flora and fauna so the land is healing itself.”

Amy Lueders, Regional Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, presented an award to the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Sensitive Species Program and Mexican Wolf Program staff who have worked on the recovery of the Mexican Wolf. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the program for making a difference in conservation in terms of important milestones in recovering endangered species.

Welcome addresses were also given by Darren Talayumptewa, NAFWS Board of Directors, Don Reiter, NAFWS President, Board of Directors, and Julie Thorstenson, PhD, the new executive director of the NAFWS, who outlined areas that she’s like to focus on since she started in May 15, 2019.

In keeping with the national conference theme on Native American women in natural resources, three sessions followed. One of the sessions was by keynote presenter Jaime Arrive, Ute Tribe, Ft. Duschesne, Utah, biologist, who oversees her tribe’s big game management program. She related her roles as a mom, a woman, and an educator to her talk and she said yes, she was taught to hunt and it may be prideful but “I take pride in taking my kids out to hunt because I can show them, I can get a deer, I can skin a deer and even quarter and pack a deer even though it’s hard.”  She said that she can teach others to hunt and even other women. “When single parents come in to get their hunting permits, it’s pretty neat because they want to teach their sons or daughters how to hunt.” Since her department teaches hunter education, her staff also provide subsistence hunting to those who need help. She sees her role as a helper and her department staff are also helpers.  “There is no difference between a woman doing a job or a man doing a job. We’re all natural resource managers, we’re out there to make our resources better for our people,” she said.

And the session of Native women managers, Let’s Talk – Women in Natural Resources. This panel included: Serra Hoagland, PhD, CWB, U.S. Forest Service; Mitzi Reed, Director, Choctaw Wildlife and Parks, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians; Amy Lueders, Regional Director, Southwest Region, USFWS; and Donna Nez, Fisheries Technician II, Umatilla Fisheries and Fresh Water Mussels Program. The panelists shared information in response to questions about role models in their lives. The questions were about the most rewarding experience in your life in regards to natural resources, what was the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences as a woman in natural resources or working with women and girls.

As the hosting tribe for the national conference, the Gila River Indian Community, Natural and Cultural Resource Management Division presented a tribal showcase of their programs which Russel Bendford, environmental program manager said they have been restoring the natural and cultural assets after more than a century of serious depletion and degraded resources. They discussed the habitat restoration and wetlands restoration they are doing which the water settlement case has made possible, including the community, the tribe, and the youth. The Wildlife & Ecosystems Management Program presented on the Tribal Fuels and Restoration Crew and the work they are doing in the community with hazardous fuels reduction to restore habitat. And the Tribal Ranger Program presented on the duties and responsibilities they provide such as the cultural, archaeological, historical and natural resource protection work they do.

Conference concurrent sessions included 39 sessions on the topics of: Traditional Ecological Knowledge; Threatened and Endangered Species; Grizzly Bear Management; Pollinators/Insects; Bison Management; Habitat Restoration; Fisheries Management; Wildlife Management; and Climate Change.

General sessions held on the last day of the conference were the following: Addressing Species Conflicts; Truth and Reconciliation at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Native Women Who Hunt; The Wildlife Society – A Partnership Initiative; Update – Department of Agriculture – U.S. Forest Service; and the National Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress.

Other general sessions included the Native American Policy Implementation, presented by panelists from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. Following this panel, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act & Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act included panelists from the National Wildlife Federation, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. The RAWA (Recovering America’s Wildlife Act) presenters covered the purpose for why the RAWA tribal coalition was formed. It was formed because of the need to remind Congress and to remind the elected leaders that tribes are just as significant as states in managing fish and wildlife. Panelists encouraged tribes to join the coalition to help advocate for support of RAWA and to talk to their elected leaders, governors, because “there’s a lot of people out there with influence who need to be educated,” said Gloria Tom, Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We need to hear from tribes and we need support letters from tribes to say, “yes we need this funding, and we need to hear from biologists, those that are on the ground, we need their support.”

A session by Kellie Carim, PhD, who presented a session on Highlights of New Capabilities Using Environmental (eDNA) for Wildlife Conservation; an Update on the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was presented by Dr. Terry Clark, DVM, Tribal Liaison, USDA-APHIS; and Graise Lee Jenni, Resolve Conservation, presented on Improved Equity and Community Autonomy – Through Animal Disease Traceability Programs and Blockchain Technology.

The NAFWS national business meeting was held at the membership voted on five resolutions. These resolutions are listed on the NAFWS website at:

With the GRIC as the host tribe of the conference, they put together the traditional feast and provided traditional food from their tribe followed by traditional dances performed by the local tribal dance group.

The banquet and awards event featured the student presentation and slideshow by the students who participated in the Youth Education Seminar. Serra Hoagland, PhD, showed a video that she is featured in, titled, Messengers: The Owls of Mescalero. “The film highlights the role Native American conservationists play in protecting wilderness, and how combining traditional ecological knowledge with Western science can address one of the most critical challenges facing the world of wildlife management.”

The awards for the national conference were announced. And the Conservation Officer of the Year Award was presented to Elridge Vigil, a conservation law enforcement officer with the Jicarilla Apache Tribe Game and Fish Department.  And the Southwest Region shoot competition awards were also presented to the shoot teams. The first place team was the Southwest Region, the second place team – Great Lakes Region, third place team – Great Plains Region, and the fourth place team – the Pacific Region. The annual Top Gun award was presented to Curtis Chapoose, Ute Tribe, and on the Southwest Region shoot team.

The auctions followed the banquet and awards and that rounded out the 2019 NAFWS National Conference.



The Conservation Officer of the Year Award for 2019 was presented to Jicarilla Apache Tribe Game and Fish Law Enforcement Officer, Elridge Vigil, who is also a member of the tribe.

Elridge was presented this award during the 37th Annual NAFWS National Conference in Phoenix, AZ on May 23, 2019.

Vigil joins the honored list of those who have been recognized since 1995 as NAFWS Conservation Law Officer of the Year by the NAFWS. Tribal conservation law enforcement officers in Indian country play a critical part in the protection of tribal resources which include fisheries, wildlife, and sacred sites.

Some of the areas that Eldridge was nominated for is his commitment to public service and his service to tribal youth.  As an advocate for youth he is also a hunter education instructor. Vanessa Vicenti, also a team member and instructor in the Hunter Education Program said Elridge is usually “front and center when needed for educational programs.  For example, in the summer months, the youth programs will take students fishing and boating then there is an annual baseball game between the Jicarilla tribal departments and the youth programs, which at times, the Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department are the only ones to show up and Elridge is there to play with the youth even on his day off.”

Vicencti said the newly established Community Outdoor Resource Education Program brings a structured environment to the youth endeavors. “Instead of having each community program schedule fishing and education time with Game and Fish, we now plan a structured week of activities to include NM Hunter Education. And Elridge is always a key participant in setting up, teaching and working with the youth in these programs and activities.”

Elridge is also a trained tracker with the Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department’s tracking team said Vicenti. “The tracking team have been instrumental in locating several missing persons on our reservation and have been called to other areas off our reservation as well. Many times the local police department is either overwhelmed or under-staffed and the Jicarilla Game and Fish Department will step in and conduct missing person investigations. Locating missing people can take a psychological toll on a person and Elridge has continued to persevere and project a professional public presence throughout the years.”

“With Elridge’s commitment to public service and the youth in our community is paramount to the success of our programs, especially for future programs,” said Vicenti. “Not only is he a humble servant to our community and we appreciate his time and commitment, but this is our attempt to give something back [to Elridge] by this nomination for the Conservation Law Officer of the Year Award.”

Vigil has been a conservation officer with the Jicarilla Apache Nation in northern New Mexico for more than 20 years, he said he is honored and “surprised” to receive this award and thanked all those who supported him.





By: Elveda Martinez, Southwest Region Director/NAFWS President

The Southwest Region planning committee held a day-long pre-conference Climate Change meeting on May 20, 2019 in Chandler, Arizona. A total of 73 tribal representatives from all Society regions attended and many participated in sharing information on how they are being impacted and how they are “attacking” Climate Change in their regions.

Craig vander Heider of the Miccosukee Florida Tribe, talked about their flooding and losing land mass mostly in their ancestral lands (Tree Islands); it’s historically been a planting ground and used for hunting and gathering, through the years. The Tree Islands have shrunk in size due to the rise in sea water levels, the water rises 2.7 feet every year and the land is changing from salt tolerant to becoming open to salty grounds; this is not good for vegetation.

Mike LaVoie of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Tribe of North Carolina talked about the weather getting warmer, they also noticed fewer freezing temperatures, more intense storms and seasonal droughts. They have a wild onion they are studying, there are rare species endangered – birds & animals, the Eastern Elk is being re-introduced in their southern lands, they need wild fires to reduce non-native species, they are managing fisheries and the Southern Appalachian Brook Trout, the trout was their people’s (Cherokee’s) main food staple. Cherokee Trout Fishing is a main revenue for the Tribe which generates $26 million dollars annually and provides 300 plus jobs.

Cale Pete, Washoe Tribe Environmental Specialist, talked about their Mayala Water Restoration Planning Project; $2.4-million-dollar budget for project, the size has been reduced since, the Meeks Creek Watershed is the project area which is located on the western side of Lake Tahoe.  A very small project area,  45-plants of cultural significance are being restored as a priority, they have volunteers that help with the conifer reduction, temperatures have increased, snowpack also have increased after drought years. They will monitor/manage the planning area this year.

Marlene Begay of the Walker River Paiute Tribe, talked about climate changes on the Walker River Paiute Reservation. She stated that the weather pattern in all seasons have been different than in the past years/decades, more 100 plus degree days in the summer, more intense winter storms, more rain when it rains, less fall and spring type weather.  She also talked about the how the Paiute People used to watch the Rabbit Brush as an indicator when Pinenuts were ready, but that is no longer the case – since it has been blooming a month earlier, other signs include less Honey Bees, hardly any Magpies, more Antelopes in the area, Pinenuts are not as abundant as before. She completed a Climate Change Adaptation Plan and we’ll seek funding for more Traditional Ecological Knowledge studies in the future.

Gloria Tom talked about the Climate Change Program that is administered by the Navajo Nation Department of Fish & Wildlife. The Tribe is doing a vulnerability study assessment. They work with chapters on the Reservation that have been reduced from 110 to 14; the chapters are like districts/zones where the people have meetings regarding their areas, this was a move due to budget constraints.  The elected chapters officials now have to cover more area they represent, the vulnerability studies include bears, mountain lions, deer, elk, and mountain sheep, their ecosystem is declining, food availability is a concern.  In December 2018 their Climate Change Adaptation Plan was completed, they have been and will do more outreach education with the youth.

Andrea Gutierrez, Gila River Habitat Technician, talked about their program and working with the Climate Change Adaptation Plan. They have 580-square miles of Reservation land, 21,000 Tribal Members. They have been sustained by fishing and agriculture historically. The BIA has provided funding for planning. They have Sister Tribes – Ak Chin, Salt River, Tohono Oa dam Pima Tribes. They are collecting data; completed the climate profile and finalizing their Climate Draft Plan.

Dennis Longknife, Ft. Belknap Agency of Montana Climate Change Coordinator, talked about hiring a consultant to help with their Climate Change Adaptation Plan.  They have 7,000-enrolled Tribal members.  He talked about how the “Winters Doctrine” was derived from their Reservation. They are in the process of re-establishing buffalo on their reservation; they have 500 head now; they were acquired from a nearby plains region, some from Yellowstone National Park; the Tribe is protecting their grasslands and native plants such as the Choke Cherry, Peppermint, Ceremonial Sage, and June Berries. They are a hunting dependent Tribe and eat elk, deer and buffalo;  they are teaching students how to do meat processing for their community – the students keep what they process.  The Tribal People eat a lot of fish – mostly Walleye. They set-up a community garden as well. They project to finish their Climate Change Adaptation Plan by July 2019.

Hannah Birge of The Natural Conservancy  talked about the “The New Artic”,  and how the sea ice is not how it used to be; the melting has made it to where it’s declining, so one day there will be no sea ice anymore. Permafrost is thawing and will eventually melt, once it thaws out it won’t go back to how it was.

Paul Williams, Elder Alaska Native, talked about his experience with Tribal Ecological Knowledge in his homeland as a child through the years – he is now in his 80’s. He has noticed the fish have declined, forests are drying up, the ocean ice melting sooner and wildlife are not migrating as normal than before – which they depend on for subsistence.

Aaron Schultz of the “GLIFWC” Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission talked about “MOU’s” and the word “management”, he believes that it’s a strong word and depicts as a dominance of something. They are studying Lake Superior fish for Climate Change Planning and studying inland Walleye, studying their diets and habitat. They are also studying the Marten animal – the Marten is a sought-after animal for their fur by trappers.  The Walleye is declining  due to warming waters – they are a cold-water fish species.

Stephanie Krantz of the Nez Perce Tribe (Nimiipuu People), talked about how they are impacted culturally and spiritually by Climate Change. Plant and animal species are the victims. Their people’s gatherings have been altered, the timing for gathering has been shortened, salmon are not as abundant as they were historically.  Wildfires have also damaged forested lands.

Colleen Sanders, Umatilla Tribe Climate Change Adaptation Planner, talked about their Tribe’s experience with Climate Change. They have 172,000 acres, 2,922 population and their “First Foods” are being affected – water, salmon, deer, cous and huckleberry. They are experiencing more winter rains than snow and more severe droughts.

Other speakers also shared their stories on how they are being negatively impacted. The day closed out with a round-table discussion on what the next steps should be. What do we need to do as Native people to “attack” the Climate Change issues? There are no easy answers. The Society is hoping to implement a Climate Change Initiative. With assistance from James Rattling Leaf Jr., Consultant, immediately after the conference we submitted an application for funding from the BIA Climate Change program to get this started.




Another successful 40-hour Native American Conservation Officer Training was held on May 6-10, 2019 at the Santa Ana Star Casino, Santa Ana, NM. There were 55 tribal conservation officers that were trained and they came from 16 tribes from the states of Arizona, New Mexico, California, Washington, Minnesota, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska. The training was coordinated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services with assistance from the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society and support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The training on the first day included: Tribal Investigations and Case Reviews; Federal Bureau of Investigations; Imports/Exports of Cultural Items and Case Work; Eagle and Migratory Bird Feather Identification – Illegal Trade and Legal Acquisition of Birds and Feathers; Undercover Case Work – U.S. vs. Loncarich and Operation Stubtail; Indian Arts and Crafts Board Act Case; and Open Discussion between FWS OLE and participants.

In the Undercover Case Work session, presenters discussed mountain lion and bob cat and commercialization cases. The first case was about an outfitter in Colorado who was illegally taking mountain lions and bob cats primarily in Utah. The clients were being directed to place Colorado licenses on these animals that had been killed in Utah. The other case involved a commercial trapper who had been trapping on Navajo reservation lands and catching bob cats.

In the Open Discussion session the officers had the opportunity to ask questions of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement presenters. Officers asked questions on the Arts and Crafts situations they come across and they would like to have more training and education in this area. One area they asked about is those tribes that are unrecognized or state recognized that are making jewelry.

On the second day the sessions included: Cellular Phone and Computer Forensics Training; Mexican Wolf Update and Identification. The third day included classes on: Defensive Tactics and Firearms Training. The fourth day included training in Tactical Medicine. On the last day, the officers received training in Conservation Law.

The instructors for the classes were from the following: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Law Enforcement; Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).

Phil Land, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, Special Agent in Charge, said he oversees the operations and investigations for the Southwest Region which is Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. “We came to this training to collaborate with all the Native American conservation tribal officers.” He added,  “our mission is to conserve, protect and enhance the plants and wildlife for future generations of all Americans and we do that with our partners, which are local, state, tribal, and federal partners. We can definitely work on investigations with our tribal conservation officers and discuss issues that are out there protecting our resources not only on native american lands but of course on the western part of U.S.”

Ariel Vasquez, Resident Agent in Charge in Arizona and New Mexico said he presented about his area in law enforcement and the possibilities in relation to the recent wolf cases and also how “we can help tribal officers in their investigations.”
Joe Gomez, Senior Instructor, FLETC, Artesia, NM. Our purpose here is to train these officers and to help them save themselves or save their partners. That means we teach them tourniquet application, improvised tourniquet applications and teach them how to use quick clotting agent which can be used in areas where you cannot use a tourniquet to help them save themselves and their own life. Our training is applicable to all first responders whether they’re conservation officers or by themselves. We’ve been teaching this across the U.S. because it takes so long for an ambulance service to get to an officer when they’ve been shot. So we want them to save themselves and buy themselves time for that ambulance to get where they’re at.




Comments from tribal officers that attended the Native American Conservation Law Enforcement Officers Training at Santa Ana, NM


William Mahone, Makah Tribe Natural Resources Enforcement, Neah Bay, WA –  “I have been in resource enforcement for 27 years and in conservation enforcement for 19 years. I used to work as a tribal police officer and I intended to go back to police work but I found out what we do in natural resources enforcement and I liked doing that much more than police work. I liked learning about the game cameras which we have at our tribal department but we don’t know how to use them. From the class that we had here at the training on cameras, I learned how to use the game cameras better and what equipment to get so that we can start using them. We only have three guys where I work. Issues that we have on our reservation is that there a lot of non-tribal members that come onto the reservation.”

Jerrod Rosson, Ranger, Gila River Indian Community, Police Department – “One of the most helpful training topics that we had at this training has been the field medical technical training because it’s hands-on experience and we get to utilize the equipment, put the tourniquets on and we’re placed in a stressful type situation which really kind of ties it all in. And where if we are actually faced with a situation where we’re taking the shots or we’re dealing with a stressful situation it’s nice to be able to practice it which gives us the opportunity to know what we’re going to be addressing if something like that should occur. I’ve been in law enforcement for almost 18 years now and working in Indian country for 8 of those 18 years and I just got into the Ranger program at GRIC and I’ve been gone for like 5 months now and it’s a great opportunity and our goal is preservation.”


Mark Duran, Ranger, Gila River Indian Community, Police Department – “With our program and if one looks at our model and our job description, it’s preserving the wildlife, the culture, and the natural resources. Unfortunately where we’re located there is a lot of criminal activity coming from south of the border and this carries across into the Gila River Indian Community because we are next to Phoenix, AZ. This is what is diverting a lot of our officers to instead focus on that. We have to divert our attention to that because there are things like backpackers smuggling drugs like marijuana, heroine, cocaine, methamphetamines and everything else across the Indian community, plus the human aspects of it. So we have to reach out to other agencies like Border Patrol, ICE, and others, so we’re pulled away from just being a conservation officer. We opened up a special unit called the Border Protection Unit and they investigate crimes from south of the border we had to pull four to five of our Rangers into that Border Protection Unit.”





The Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission Enforcement held an Archeological Training on July 30-31, 2019 in Hood River, Oregon. The training was a two day course designed by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fisheries Law Enforcement Officers and was offered to Law Enforcement, Detectives, Prosecutors, Tribal Monitors, Park Rangers, and Resource Stewards.

The first day of the training was to familiarize officers with the State and Federal Archaeology Laws, how to conduct Archaeological Crimes Investigations, and Evidence Collection. The presenters gave information on artifact identification and an archaeological perspective on Cultural Resource Protection. The last part of the training included a half-day of field scenarios that were held outdoors which provided students a chance to use the laws and techniques taught in the class.

The training was funded partly by the United States Army Corps of Engineers & Bonneville Power Administration under the FCRPS Cultural Resource Program.

There were15 participants from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers personnel from Washington/Oregon/Idaho, Burlington Railroad personnel from Seattle/Vancouver, WA/Tri-Cities, CRITFE, and the U. S.  Forest Service personnel.



The NAFWS Great Plains Region held a regional conference on July 23-24, 2019 in Rapid City, SD with 57 attendees representing seven tribes that are representative in the Great Plains region. The event started with the Great Plains Fish and Wildlife Commission which held their meeting on July 22, 2019.

The opening ceremony on the 23rd began with the parade of colors with the tribal conservation law enforcement officers. Introductions were given by Ron Skates, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks who said he had been on the NAFWS board of directors years ago and is now serving as the first tribal liaison with the State of South Dakota. He works with tribes and said “there’s still the need to get younger people involved in natural resources.”

Julie Thorstenson, PhD, the new executive director with the NAFWS gave a welcome address and she is in her third month as executive director since May 15, 2019 and one of the most important things she would like to do is build up the NAFWS membership in the NAFWS’ seven regions. She said she has been contacting tribes in the Great Plains Region inviting them to this conference. And that the NAFWS is in a rebuilding stage. “This is an exciting time and we are in discussions about funding at a federal level something that we’ve been excluded from for several years. This is a good time for tribes and we want to make sure tribes are at the table and are included.”

Dianne Mann-Klager presented on the BIA Great Plains Region Fish and Wildlife Issues. She informed that BIA made a “push out” from Washington, D.C. with mostly field operations staff have moved out of D.C. and natural resources is now in Albuquerque, NM. She said there was recently a national fish and wildlife meeting for all those in the BIA regions in Mescalero, NM where they discussed proposals such as invasive species, endangered species, youth initiative, fish hatcheries, fish hatchery operations and maintenance, and conservation law enforcement. She said this year was a new round for ranked proposals for conservation law enforcement which goes for five years if the BIA has funding. So when a tribe is awarded that contract it is for five years at $47,000 as long as the BIA keeps getting that funding. So she said if conservation officers are covering about 300,000 acres per person and many times in complex terrain and remote areas and for safety reasons, they should be going out in pairs. And this means are they doing an effective job? This is some of the data that the BIA is looking at.  She stressed that the BIA is looking at the reporting by those who get funds which must be done by September 1, 2019. The BIA wants to know what is being done with the funding. Are any tribes having issues with the funding? She said they are frustrated that the budgets which don’t come in until winter or early spring and it is just the process. Also, she said a new thing is that the BIA will provide funding to attend Society meetings and for memberships. Foreign animal diseases is something they are also looking at with the USDA-APHIS.

Libby Khumalo, PhD, presented on Sustainable Finance Working Group for Tribes discussed issues that tribal wildlife programs are facing and the working group initiative is addressing how to ensure the sustainability of tribal wildlife conservation for current and future generations by creating sustainable financing and engaging local community leadership and connecting conservation with culture. She asked the participants and those who work with tribal wildlife programs, how many enough funding to do the projects that you need to do? Not what you want to do but need to do? What they found is that tribal wildlife programs are underfunded, lack of funding and grant funding was continuing to deplete such as the tribal wildlife initiative TLIP which is no longer there to apply for, and this was what they set out to find answers to. How can they infuse dollars into tribal wildlife conservation programs?

An update on RAWA (Recovering America’s Wildlife Act) was given by Julie Thorstenson, PhD, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society gave a history of the Act and its evolvement that includes the Blue Ribbon Panel and the goal to get co-sponsors from Congress and alliances formed with the Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife. She said the purpose for the Act is that America’s fish and wildlife are in danger where at least 30% of the wildlife are at risk for becoming endangered.

A session on Ecological Assessment of Standing Rock Indian Reservation Border Waters in the Missouri River in North Dakota was presented by Jordan Kort, who presented on what they have found indicates that those members and on game commissions may not understand key aspects of what they need to understand in order to make decisions. It could be areas that involve communication, trust, or building relationships.

Blood Tribe presenter, LeRoy Littlebear shared information about the Buffalo Treaty which is a treaty of cooperation, restoration and renewal.  It includes tribes to sign as signatories to the treaty and so far he said nine tribes and nations have signed the treaty. He encouraged tribes in the U.S. to sign on as signatories “to bring back the buffalo as a pure strain as to what it used to be and he added, “the buffalo treaty is bringing us all back together.”

Mike Kennedy, Field Supervisor, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe gave a demonstration on Self Defense for the conference attendees. He gave summaries of actual cases as to how law enforcement officers could handle encounters based on what any officer would learn in their federal training in defensive tactics.

Presenters from the Santee Sioux Tribe, Don LaPointe and Justin Avery talked about the massive flooding from snow and rain that lasted for days and ice impacts on their tribal land which took out several roads, ponds, wetlands, camp grounds, trees, bridges in Niobrara, NB. They discussed impacts on the animals that many were lost. Wildlife such as beaver and muskrats were seen in the rivers. Deer were seen on top of hills. Many animals became road kill. Beavers, deer and other small animals were hit on the roads. Much displacement of the wildlife. The tribe is still recovering.

Margaret Bad Warrrior, tribal attorney, talked about the Supreme Court Decision in Indian Country, specifically the case, Herrera vs. Wyoming. She discussed what took place in the case and what the argument was about, and what the Supreme Court held. The case is about hunting rights and the Crow Tribe. “In 2017 Clayvin Herrera was with other tribal members and they trailed some elk on the reservation which crossed over into the Big Horn National Forest where they got three of them and took them home for food.” The BH is federal land and managed by Wyoming State regulations for hunting in the BH national forest. So Wyoming officials cited them and entered the Crow Reservation and cited them for a misdemeanor for hunting elk out of season. So Herrera argued that the hunt was legal.

James Rattling Leaf presented a session, Every Tribe has a Climate Story: Climate Assessment Planning on Tribal Lands in the Great Plains. He discussed the planning process for climate change, highlighting projects that have focused on pieces of that process: increasing the capacity of Tribes to monitor local climate conditions, assess their short- and long-term climate vulnerabilities, and identify culturally appropriate resilience actions to address these vulnerabilities. He provided attendees with resources that they can use to pursue adaptation planning and implementation, including potential funding options.


Other sessions included Climate Change, Prevention of Aquatic Species, and Chronic Wasting Disease. The GP Region held a Conservation Officers Shoot Team Competition and a banquet. The Region will also award a scholarship for students in natural resources in honor of Alvah Quinn, former director, Sisseton-Wapeton Oyate Sioux Tribe, Game and Fish Department. The new Great Plains shoot team for the 2020 is: 1st Place- Beauford Joe (Top Gun); 2nd Place Morgan Tibbits; 3rd Place – Jeff Kelly; 4th Place – Michael Brown; and 5th Place – Brad Sage. The alternates are Donovan Grassrope and Thomas DeLong.




Travis Clarkson, White Mountain Apache Tribe said that since he was a kid, he’s always had a passion for hunting and fishing. Prior to working for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, he had the opportunity to work for the White Mountain Apache Tribal Game and Fish Department and interned at the AZ Fisheries Resource Office in Pinetop. He also worked as a Fisheries Technician and a Sensitive Species Specialist for the Tribe.

As a State Wildlife Manager, Travis said he believes that it’s important to establish and foster new and existing relationships with all Indian Tribes around the State. He said he is looking forward to meeting and working with all Tribal Natural Resource Programs. Travis wants to say, “thank you to my wife and kids, my family, and all the mentors who taught me along the way. Thank you!”

Cynthia Dale, White Mountain Apache Tribe Sensitive Species Coordinator said, “Travis was my computer guru and he could do anything computer related and he was also so enthusiastic and great to work with. I hope he comes back to work for the tribe someday.”

Wildlife Managers with the Arizona Game and Fish Department are tasked with, but are not limited to, wildlife surveys, hunt patrols, habitat projects, and off-highway vehicle and boating enforcement. Wildlife managers are the face of AZGFD in their communities and have the opportunity to engage with citizens while also ensuring that precious resources are preserved. They must also have a bachelor’s degree in wildlife science or a closely related field. Congratulations to Travis Clarkson!




U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Welcomes New Tribal Liaison – Mountain Prairie Region



Native American tribal first responders are eligible to get training in Hazardous Materials Awareness at no cost.

Classes include: Hazmat Awareness, Meth Awareness, Responder Safety Awareness, Mass Casualty Incident Triage, Incident Command System, Weapons of Mass Destruction & All-Hazards Awareness, and Radiological/Nuclear Awareness.

The training for first responders are taught by the Workplace Safety Training group out of the Alabama Fire College in Birming­ham, Alabama.  The WST and the NAFWS continue their partnership in providing these trainings for tribes.

The classes are taught by Roy Stover, Workplace Safety Training Instructor with the Alabama Fire College who presents a variety of hazard­ous materials subjects that include, laws and regulations, recognition and identification of hazardous materials (such as placards, labels, container shapes, transport vehicles, to name a few) and, hazardous materials emergency re­sponse.

Roy’s Hazmat Aware­ness class and a variety of other subjects are provided under a grant by the Na­tional Institute of Environmental Sciences (NIEHS) and is shared with the Native American tribes in the U.S. The classes are intended for tribal first responders such as police, fire, and EMS) but anyone in the tribe would benefit from this knowledge, and should attend.

If your tribe would like to host a free class, contact Roy Stover with the Workplace Safety Training program at: desk 205-655-6572 ext. 4, or cell 205-617-6090. E-mail: rstover@alabamafirec­ or [email protected] or you may also contact: Karen with the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society toll free: 1-866-890-7258 ext. 5


2019 Great Lakes Region Conference will be September 22-27, 2019, Hayward, WI, hosted by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. For more information:


2019 NAFWS Pacific Region Conference will be October 15-17, 2019, Toppenish, WA and hosted by the Yakama Nation. For more information:


Job Opportunity – Native American Fish and Wildlife Society is hiring an Office Manager/Membership Coordinator at its Denver, CO office. For more information:


Check out the NAFWS job opportunities for jobs in Indian Country:


2019 Native American Conservation Law Enforcement Training, September 9-13, 2019, Billings, MT. More information: Diana Spint, [email protected], (406)247-7355.


Women in Conservation Leadership Summit, March 16-19, 2020, Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs, CO. Women in Conservation Leadership is a diverse, inclusive, national community and a catalyst to elevate and embolden all women in advancing conservation. For more information: For more information please visit: or contact: [email protected]


Ranger Reserve – Do any tribes as part of your police departments have a Ranger Reserve program? The ranger reserve is composed of volunteers that can provide support for the police department. They are not compensated and they must be certified. The Gila River Police Department would like to hear from you if your tribe (or any tribe in the U.S.) has a Ranger Reserve Program. Contact: Stanford Benally, (520) 610-6809.



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