By Cameron Hunt
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — To continue building on existing relationships, Native American tribes and the U.S. military, the second annual Front Range Tribal Relations meeting was held in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 23 — 27, 2018.
Site observations, tours and discussions were conducted with the goal of identifying, documenting and preserving U.S. Native American interests located on military bases. Many military bases located in the United States were built upon Native American land. Many Native American artifacts, ceremonial burial grounds and spiritual landmarks are still present today.
“The positive take away from these meetings is in learning from one another in a unified effort, to preserve and promote the rich history of both cultures. I am dedicated to listening and learning a great deal over the next few days from these discussions,” said Col. Todd Moore, 21st Space Wing commander.
Terry Knight, Ute Mountain Ute, Colorado tribe, had concerns regarding agreements made between Native American tribes by base commanders in the past.
“What guarantees will remain intact to ensure what was agreed upon in one year will be honored by future commanders after the current commander moves on?” said Knight.
Col. Jennifer Grant, 50th Space Wing commander, spoke to tribal concerns in regards to her installation and stated that, “The mission and goal of these meetings is to become one team in collaboration with tribal members and installation commanders to identify and preserve tribal landmarks and interests.”
The five-day round of discussions and tours of the surrounding bases across the Front Range included Peterson Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Schriever Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force Academy, Buckley Air Force Base and F.E. Warren Air Force Base.
Recognition and preservation of Native American landmarks, sites and trails was a goal throughout the meeting. The tribes suggested having tribal cultural specialists, historians and elders act as liaison with Front Range base commanders, to be given access to survey their bases for landmarks and artifacts.
“I believe that these meetings are good in that local commanders can meet with tribal officials, discuss a collective future and make arrangements on their level to benefit culturally both tribal and military interests,” said Steve Vance, Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, South Dakota. “Acknowledging the presence of Native Americans across America and preserving the culture is the ultimate benefit; we basically don’t want our presence here and throughout history erased.”
The discussion resulted in positive dialog, leaving tribal members hopeful for future initiatives through education and training, said Cassandra Antonio, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Colorado.
“Base-wide Native American sensitivity training should be mandated for wing supervision and military personnel to educate military members on tribal interests, customs and ceremonies indigenous to that particular base,” said Antonio. “The need for continuous dialog and feedback is warranted to address and alleviate future disruption of identified tribal landmarks like the Cathedral Rock located on the U.S. Air Force Academy.”
Tribes in attendance:
• Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma
• Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
• Comanche Nation of Oklahoma
• Crow Creek Sioux Tribe
• Fort Belknap Indian Community
• Jicarilla Apache Nation
• Mescalero Apache Tribe
• Northern Arapaho of the Wind River Reservation
• Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
• Pueblo of Taos
• Rosebud Sioux Tribe
• Southern Ute Indian Tribe
• Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
• Three Affiliated Tribes of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation
• Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
• Ute Mountain Ute
• Yankton Sioux Tribe