more on co-management with tribes

I received a response to my blog post about Deb Haaland and cooperative management of government lands. The writer was Roger Amerman, currently “USFS Native American Outreach and Recruitment Specialist” on the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests.

Roger is enrolled Choctaw, but married to a Nez Perce woman and living on the Nez Perce Reservation. He tells me that in his (Choctaw) culture, children are raised in the culture of the mother. Roger is dutifully raising their son a Nez Perce man.

More background: Roger is a geologist with a degree from Colorado School of Mines, has done graduate work at Washington State University, and is a key part of the Josephy Center’s ongoing program we call “Head and Heart,” an examination of landscapes in the Wallowa Country through the lenses of scientists and those of Nez Perce elders and language specialists. The photo accompanying this post has Roger talking with walwama band elders from Nespelem at an ancient site along the Minam River.

For the record, Roger is also an accomplished beadworker with work in museums and private collections. He’s also a wonderful instructor in beadwork who has done workshops for us here at the Josephy Center.

Here’s Roger’s response to my post:

“Hi Rich, I’m afraid (in a good way) that your blog about co-management and co-stewardship of public lands located in Tribal Homelands is already outdated my friend. As we speak, the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the USFS Clearwater-Nez Perce National Forests of central Idaho are Nationally highlighted as a model of initiating a 5-year plan to truly co-manage public lands in Nez Perce Homelands/ Nez Perce “America”. And, they have well-endowed resources to assist in making this unprecedented relationship blossom and manifested to the rest of the Nation. I know this because I just gained meaningful employment to be in the middle of this “ground-breaking” relationship between the NP Tribe and USFS!! In the PNW, the other significant exclusive showcase and well-endowed relationship that is taking place and being initiated, is between the NPS Glacier National Park and the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. Phenomenal!!!!!! The other tribes and Federal Government entities of the PNW need to get their act together and “jump on board” for the win (in true co-management and co-stewardship of the sacred land and its resources). I am hoping the Nez Perce Tribe of Idaho and the other USFS Forests in the Nez Perce “homeland” (Wallow-Whitman NF, Payette NF, Umatilla NF) form similar benevolent co-management relationships in the near future that will properly and reverently take care of the land.”

Roger’s thoughts got me to thinking that we already have co-management of some fisheries on the Columbia and its tributaries with the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission working with state and federal fisheries agencies. We’ve learned that there is important Native knowledge of fish and water. Now we are welcoming Native peoples into a new realm of natural resource management. Hurray for Deb Haaland and the Biden Administration!

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Photo by Ellen Bishop: Roger Amerman and walwama band elders on the Minam


  1. The furtherance of co-management under the Biden admin as well as the work of the administration to support and further the interests of Native Americans is testimony that, even though there is so much more to do, we are in a new era of relations. These developments remind me of a quote from a political scientist I read in college that has stuck with me over the years: “Critics say that America is a lie because its reality falls so short of its ideals. They are wrong. America is not a lie; it is a disappointment. But it can be a disappointment only because it is also a hope.”

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