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American Indian/Alaska Native Special Emphasis Program Manager

American Indian/Alaska Native Special Emphasis Program

David Morris
American Indian/Alaska Native Special Emphasis Program Manager
318-757-2455 Ext. 3

Halito” (Hello) to you all! Welcome to the NRCS – Louisiana American Indian Emphasis Program web page.

Special Emphasis Programs

Special Emphasis activities and support are an integral part of the Civil Rights Program of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Special Emphasis Program Managers assist the Louisiana State Conservationist and the Leadership Team to:

  • Ensure that equal opportunity is present in all aspects of NRCS programs, services, and employment.
  • Provide advice and assistance in order to help meet civil rights program goals and objectives.
  • Ensure effective communication among all persons and areas dealing with or affected by, agency civil rights responsibilities.

The program seeks to:

  • Support the unique role of American Indians and Alaskan Natives within the Federal Government system.
  • Recruit potential American Indian/Alaskan Native employees.
  • Develop mentoring processes among American Indian/Alaskan Native employees.
  • Build coalitions with appropriate advocacy groups.

American Indian Special Emphasis Program Mission Statement

To provide focus on issues of employment, promotion, training, retention and career enhancement affecting American Indian/Alaskan Native employees and applicants in NRCS in Louisiana.

Strategic Issues

  • Support American Indian Special Emphasis Program efforts at state, regional,and national levels.
  • Develop a strong recruitment plan to enhance diversity within NRCS in Louisiana.


  • Assess the problems, needs, and opportunities critical to success;
  • Identify available resources;
  • Establish long range and annual goals consistent with the objectives of the program;
  • Develop and implement an annual plan of operations that identifies specific activities to be initiated and/or completed during the fiscal year;
  • Monitor and evaluate progress in completing activities and meeting established objectives;
  • Increase the total number of American Indians in all professional, administrative,technical, clerical, and other categories, series, and all grade levels;
  • Eliminate concentrations of American Indians in single interval series to diversifyand create advancement opportunities;
  • Encourage the participation of American Indians in all NRCS sponsored programs and activities;
  • Provide a network of professional support for American Indians;
  • Ensure that the American Indians community receives equal treatment in all aspects of employment;
  • Provide opportunities to participate in training and training programs such as career enhancement, graduate studies, and others.

All documents posted below require Adobe Acrobat.


May 2014 National American Indian/Alaskan Native SEPM Newsletter


Grant Opportunity for Tribal Wildlife Programs:

American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month - November 2016

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service produces an annual poster to celebrate American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month each November.

This year’s poster theme is “The Creator of the Land ‘Napi’,” and features creation stories of the Blackfeet and Chippewa Cree Tribes of Montana.

Art for the poster was created by Theodore M. Koop of the Chippewa Cree Tribe, and the accompanying story was told by George Bird Grinnell, famed conservationist and student of
Native American culture. The poster and story have been reviewed by Blackfeet Tribal Elders.

2016 American Indian Heritage Poster

Longleaf Pine Tree Usage by American Indian Tribes in Louisiana Booklet

With the disappearance of the longleaf pine tree from its natural environment the loss of a way of life and culture can go with it. Hopefully, this booklet will be able be shed some light on the cultural significance of the longleaf pine tree to the American Indian in Louisiana and the southeastern tribes. View PDF document below to learn more.

Tomatoes from Heirloom Seeds
Heirloom Seeds - Our Cultural Past

If you love gardening and American Indian culture then you will enjoy the pdf file on Heirloom seeds, which you can download by clicking on the link below. Did you know that American Indians contributed to over 60 percent of the foods that we and the world eat today? A good example of these foods would be your Thanksgiving dinner. What would Thanksgiving be if we didn’t have turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, potatoes, pecans, blueberries, pumpkins, and tomatoes just to mention a few.

Heirloom seed growers are motivate due to a variety of reasons. Some are interest in traditional organic gardening, some for historical interest, some want to help increase the available gene pool for future generation for a variety of plants. Many simply want to taste the different varieties of vegetables or see whether they can grow a rare variety of plant. American Indians grow some plants for cultural and historical reasons. Heirloom seeds are an excellent choice for the garden with a taste that is hard to beat!  The revised version is larger, with more information of other heirloom seeds and varieties.

Revised! Heirloom Seeds - Our Cultural Past (PDF; 4.5 MB)

American Indian Cultural Values

Please view the following pdf to see the difference in Native American cultural perspectives in comparison to the remainder of the American population; likely most do not fall into one specific category since we are a multi cultural society. This is, however, an attempt to show differences in ways of thinking, living, and in general, being for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

How the Tribes Got Their Sovereignty

What makes American Indian tribes so unique from other ethnic minorities, besides their indigenous status, is that they are land based and have a political relationship with the United States government. – view the PDF document to learn more.

Famous Chiefs

View PDF document on some of the famous American Indian Chiefs.

Louisiana American Indian Population and Tribes

Louisiana has the third largest American Indian population in the south behind North Carolina and Florida. The parish (county) that has the highest percentage of population of American Indian is Sabine Parish, while Terrebone Parish has the largest population.

The State of Louisiana has four Federally Recognized Tribes, The Chitimacha Tribe in 1925, and The Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana in 1971, The Jena Band of Choctaws in 1999, and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana in 1981. The Chitimacha Tribe has a reservation in Charenton, the Coushatta Tribe in Elton, the Jena Band of Choctaws in Jena and the Tunica-Biloxi in Marksville.

The State of Louisiana has ten state recognized tribes, the Adai Caddo Tribe (1993), the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogee (2004), the Choctaw-Apache Tribe (1978), the Clifton Choctaw (1978), the Four Winds Tribe (1997), the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band, the Isle de Jean Charles Band, The Louisiana Choctaw Tribe, the Point au Chien Tribe (2004), and the United Houma Nation (1972).

Louisiana has seven other tribes which are not state or federal recognized. They are Avogel Tribe of Louisiana, Avoyel-Taensa Tribe, the Atakapa-Ishak Nation, the Chahta Tribe, the Louisiana Choctaw Turtle Tribe, the Lacombe Choctaws, and the Talimali Band Apalachee of Louisiana.

Other American Indian associations are the Louisiana Intertribal Council, Louisiana Indian Education Association, and the Louisiana Indian Heritage Association.

Choctaw Code Talkers

Legislation signed in October 2008 by President Bush week authorizes Congressional Medals of Honor be issued to the Choctaw Nation and family members of the 14 "Choctaw Code Talkers" from the Army's Thirty-Sixth Division. The "Choctaw Code Talkers" utilized their traditional Muskogean language/delivery methods to strategically hasten the end of World War l, defeat well seasoned German forces, and save numerous American and Ally troops in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign.

All of these men were serving in the same battalion, which was practically surrounded by the German Army. And, to make matters worse, it was common knowledge that the Germans had 'broken' the American radio codes and had tapped the telephone lines. The Germans were also capturing about one out of every four messengers sent out as runners between the various companies on the battle line.

The German code experts were unable to decipher this ancient Muskogean language that evolved in the SE region of North America and had also proved to be an important trade language in southern United States history and prehistory. Within 72 hours after the Choctaw language was pressed into service, the tide of battle had turned, and in less than 72 hours, the German Army was retreating and the Allied Forces were on full attack. Since this occurred at the close of the war, the Choctaw Code Talkers were apparently used in only this one campaign. The men were praised by their company commanders and the battalion commander thought these men were promised medals for their contributions to end the war, but they had never been received.........until now.

Choctaw citizen recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor include: Albert Billy, Mitchell Bobb, Victor Brown, Ben Caterby, James Edwards, Tobias Frazer, Ben Hampton, Solomon Louis, Pete Maytubby, Jeff Nelson, Joseph Oklahombi, Robert Taylor, Calvin Wilson, and Walter Veach.

Navajo Code TalkersNavajo Code Talkers

Navajo Code Talkers

Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Peleliu, Iwo Jima: the Navajo code talkers took part in every assault the U.S. Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They served in all six Marine divisions, Marine Raider battalions and Marine parachute units, transmitting messages by telephone and radio in their native language -- a code that the Japanese never broke.

The idea to use Navajo for secure communications came from Philip Johnston, the son of a missionary to the Navajos and one of the few non-Navajos who spoke their language fluently. Johnston, reared on the Navajo reservation, was a World War I veteran who knew of the military's search for a code that would withstand all attempts to decipher it. He also knew that Native American languages--notably Choctaw--had been used in World War I to encode messages.

Johnston believed Navajo answered the military requirement for an undecipherable code because Navajo is an unwritten language of extreme complexity. Its syntax and tonal qualities, not to mention dialects, make it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training. It has no alphabet or symbols, and is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest. One estimate indicates that less than 30 non-Navajos, none of them Japanese, could understand the language at the outbreak of World War II.

Early in 1942, Johnston met with Major General Clayton B. Vogel, the commanding general of Amphibious Corps, Pacific Fleet, and his staff to convince them of the Navajo language's value as code. Johnston staged tests under simulated combat conditions, demonstrating that Navajos could encode, transmit, and decode a three-line English message in 20 seconds. Machines of the time required 30 minutes to perform the same job. Convinced, Vogel recommended to the Commandant of the Marine Corps that the Marines recruit 200 Navajos.

In May 1942, the first 29 Navajo recruits attended boot camp. Then, at Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, this first group created the Navajo code. They developed a dictionary and numerous words for military terms. The dictionary and all code words had to be memorized during training.

Once a Navajo code talker completed his training, he was sent to a Marine unit deployed in the Pacific theater. The code talkers' primary job was to talk, transmitting information on tactics and troop movements, orders and other vital battlefield communications over telephones and radios. They also acted as messengers, and performed general Marine duties.

Praise for their skill, speed and accuracy accrued throughout the war. At Iwo Jima, Major Howard Connor, 5th Marine Division signal officer, declared, "Were it not for the Navajos, the Marines would never have taken Iwo Jima." Connor had six Navajo code talkers working around the clock during the first two days of the battle. Those six sent and received over 800 messages, all without error.

The Japanese, who were skilled code breakers, remained baffled by the Navajo language. The Japanese chief of intelligence, Lieutenant General Seizo Arisue, said that while they were able to decipher the codes used by the U.S. Army and Army Air Corps, they never cracked the code used by the Marines. The Navajo code talkers even stymied a Navajo soldier taken prisoner at Bataan. (About 20 Navajos served in the U.S. Army in the Philippines.) The Navajo soldier, forced to listen to the jumbled words of talker transmissions, said to a code talker after the war, "I never figured out what you guys who got me into all that trouble were saying."

Navajo remained potentially valuable as code even after the war. For that reason, the code talkers, whose skill and courage saved both American lives and military engagements, only recently earned recognition from the Government and the public.

Department of Defense Honors Navajo Veterans

Long unrecognized because of the continued value of their language as a security classified code, the Navajo code talkers of World War II were honored for their contributions to defense on Sept. 17, 1992, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
Thirty-five code talkers, all veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps, attended the dedication of the Navajo code talker exhibit. The exhibit includes a display of photographs, equipment and the original code, along with an explanation of how the code worked.
Dedication ceremonies included speeches by the then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Donald Atwood, U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona and Navajo President Peterson Zah. The Navajo veterans and their families traveled to the ceremony from their homes on the Navajo Reservation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

"Tribute to Edward S. Cutis" Slideshow

This slideshow presents some of the photographs taken by Edward S. Curtis who devoted 30 years to photographing and documenting over eighty Indian tribes, west of the Mississippi, from the Mexican border to northern Alaska. His project won support from such prominent and powerful figures as President Theodore Roosevelt and J. Pierpont Morgan.
His work, “The North American Indian”, was completed in 1930 and consisted of 20 leather bound volumes, each containing 75 hand-pressed photogravures and 300 pages of text. Each volume was accompanied by a corresponding portfolio containing at least 36 photogravures.

The following document requires Adobe Reader.

Indians of the Past: "Tribute to Edward S. Curtis" (PDF; 2.1 MB)

American Indian Heroes

The following documents require Adobe Reader.

John B. Herrington (1958-) (PDF; 68 KB)

Jim Thorpe (1887-1953) (PDF; 55 KB)

Sitting Bull (1831-1890) (PDF; 82 KB)

A Cherokee Story

An elder Cherokee chief took his grandchildren into the forest and sat them down and said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. This is a terrible fight and it is a fight between two wolves. One wolf is the wolf of fear, anger, arrogance and greed. The other wolf is the wolf of courage, kindness, humility and love.”
The children were very quiet and listening to their grandfather with both their ears. He then said to them, “This same fight between the two wolves that is going on inside of me is going on inside of you, and inside every person.”
They thought about it for a minute and then one child asked the chief, “Grandfather, which wolf will win the fight?” He said quietly, “The one you feed.”

Cherokee Legend - Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?  (PDF; 198 KB)

Image of wolves to illustrate Cherokee story

Native American Links:

Louisiana Native American Links:

Adai Indian Nation

Adai Indian Nation

Los Adaes

Atakapa Ishak Nation

Atakapa-ishak Tribal Home Page

Atakapa Ishak Nation

Atakapa - Wikipedia

Avoyel-Taensa Tribe of Louisiana

Avoyel-Taensa Tribe/Nation of Louisiana Home

The Avoyel-Taensa Tribe Nation of Louisiana, INC

Avogel Tribe of Louisiana

Avogel Tribe of Louisiana - Official Web site

Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw of Louisiana

Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Home Page

Caddo Indians

The Caddo Indians of Louisiana

A History of the Caddo Indians

Welcome to the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma

Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb

Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb Web site

Choctaw Heritage of Louisiana and Mississippi

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

The Removal of the Mississippi Choctaws

Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana


Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana - Home

Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana

Welcome to the Sovereign Nation of Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana Home

Four Winds Cherokee

Four Winds Cherokee Tribe Official Web site

Jena Band Of Choctaw

Jena Band of Choctaw Indians Official Web site

Point-au-Chien Tribe

Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe Web site

Talimali Band Apalachee of Louisiana

Apalachee Surface in Louisiana


Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana - Home

United Houma Nation

United Houma Nation

Other Louisiana Web sites about Louisiana Indians

List of Unrecognized Tribes of Louisiana

Louisiana Indian Tribes - Historic and Present

Louisiana Indians:

National Native American Links:

Update on South Dakota's Crazy Horse Memorial

Choctaw Indians:

Choctaw - Wikipedia

Choctaw Indians - AAA Native Arts Web Site

American Indian and Alaskan Native Employee Association for the NRCS

Indian Country Today

Intertribal Agriculture Council

National Congress of American Indians: Home