The Shawnee Tribe Environment and Natural Resources Department was established in 2002 with the award of its first General Assistance Program (GAP) grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Currently, Rosanna Dobbs is the Department’s Director. Over the past 12 years the tribe has focused on environmental education through numerous outreach projects. The department’s mission is to understand, protect, manage, and restore the natural environment of the Tribe and its members, with an abiding respect for the Shawnee traditional culture.
Shawnee Tribe Paraprofessional Program
In the summer of 2018, the Shawnee Tribe partnered with the USDA Forest Service Office of Tribal Relations to sponsor a tribal heritage paraprofessional training in Miami, OK. This training is designed to create efficiencies while providing temporary employment opportunities for tribal citizens.
This training was provided through classroom & fieldwork sessions, and trainees represented 12 different tribes. They learned how to work in specialized crews on wildland restoration, timber stand improvement, timber marking, and trail maintenance, as well as identifying and recording the location of tribal artifacts and traditional places.
The Tribal Heritage Paraprofessional Program protects and shares significant cultural and environmental resources on public lands, ensuring that future generations can understand the human stories present on the landscapes of our national forests and grasslands. In addition to managing them for public use, enjoyment and education, the Forest Service protects cultural and environmental resources from vandalism, theft, fire, and other threats.
The program aims to incorporate our shared history as a part of our recreational experiences and community life that also meets tribal environmental stewardship in partnership with other land managing agencies, local communities, stakeholders, and tribes, the program contributes to economic, environmental, and cultural sustainability in a manner sensitive to traditional cultures and local/regional priorities.
Heritage Program activities address three broad areas of responsibilities:
- Protect historic properties.
- Share their value with the American people
- Contribute relevant information and perspectives to natural resource management
After passing the final exam, 20 trainees received certificates of completion that make them eligible to find employment with Forest Service heritage teams. The Shawnee Tribe, in a Master Participation Agreement with the Mark Twain National Forest, has sent a crew of 6 tribal paraprofessionals to work with the zone archaeologists in the Mark Twain National Forest for a week at a time on two separate trips, earning additional level certifications. They are currently scheduled for a 2-week stent in the forest at the end of this fiscal year.