Story and photo by Susan C. Galentine
Directorate of Public Works Public Relations
The past is carefully surveyed, cataloged and preserved at Fort Carson and Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site to ensure that history remains intact for future generations while simultaneously sustaining the training mission.
Pamela Miller, Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division Cultural Resources program manager, is committed to stewardship of the diverse cultural resources on Fort Carson lands, which have historical context spanning the full range of human occupation of North America – from 12,000 years ago to the 20th century acquisition of the training site in Las Animas County.
Miller’s archaeology work for Fort Carson began as a contractor in 1995. In 2003, she became a Department of the Army civilian and the Cultural Resources Manager for both Fort Carson and PCMS. She is responsible for the identification, evaluation, treatment and protection of all cultural resources, which includes archaeological sites, as well as the built environment for both areas.
There are approximately 150 sites on Fort Carson and over 500 on PCMS considered eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places. The curation facility,which is the headquarters for the Cultural Resources Program, houses thousands of artifacts, including items such as prehistoric stone and bone tools, historic coins, ceramics, bottles and other evidence of homesteading and ranching in the area.
One of Miller’s critical responsibilities is serving as the Installation Tribal Relations Liaison, which requires her to work with numerous Native American tribes with historical ties to the Army’s land regarding identification and preservation of sites and resources that have religious and/or traditional value to them.
“As an installation, it is Fort Carson’s responsibility to coordinate and consult with tribal governments, native communities and tribal individuals whose interests might be directly and substantially affected by activities on Fort Carson and the PCMS by providing sufficient opportunities for productive participation in our planning and resource management decision-making processes,” said Miller.
She facilitated hosting an American Indian Communications Course at Fort Carson in February, which was the first Department of Defense AICC tailored specifically for the needs of an installation. Representatives from five Native American Tribal Nations were present to work cooperatively with Fort Carson, Installation Management Command and Army Environmental Command staff to develop government-to-government consultation protocols to ensure mutually-beneficial outcomes in the management and stewardship of cultural and tribal resources on Fort Carson and PCMS.
“Part of cultural resources management involves an understanding of the history of native cultures, their traditions, religions and most importantly, their right to tribal sovereignty as dependent, domestic government’s operating in partnership with all federal agencies in the United States,” she said. “Positive relations with our Native American partners builds trust and with that trust comes a greater opportunity to maintain and sustain the natural and cultural environment necessary to provide viable training land for our military personnel.”
Miller also focuses on ensuring Soldiers are trained about heritage resources sensitivity and stewardship.
“Educating our Soldiers on the rich history of the areas on which they train at their home base provides them a greater understanding of the significance of world-wide heritage resources while in theater.”
Miller has now set her sights on implementing a new Tribal Monitoring Program next year, which will involve developing a collaborative process and installation protocols for engaging Tribal representatives on issues tied to prehistoric resources and significant religious and traditional sites.
“Pam did an extraordinary job coordinating and bringing to Fort Carson the first of its kind Army training on American Indian consultation,” said Carlos Rivero DeAguilar, DPW Environmental Division chief of Miller’s tribal training efforts. “The course benefitted our installation greatly as it provided an effective forum for open communication, deeper understanding and lasting relationships with Native American Tribes with ties to Fort Carson. Other Army and DOD installations are now considering Fort Carson’s initiative.”