NOAA Leaders Amplify Native American Voices to Advance Education on Indigenous Issues and Culture – US Department of Commerce | Team Cansler

During National Native American Heritage Month, the Department of Commerce recognizes the sacrifices, contributions and achievements of Native Americans and honors their cultural heritage. In recognition of this month, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is celebrating Tracy Boze and James Daugomah, two distinguished employees who, among other significant contributions, served as co-chairs of the American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group (ERG). The ERG is a critical resource for elevating the voices of Indigenous people within the agency and promoting education on Indigenous issues and culture. Tracy works for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service and James works for NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

Below is a brief description of each employee along with some questions and answers that describe their Native American heritage and how it relates to their jobs at NOAA, what inspires them, and why they chose to lead the American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group (ERG).

James Daugomah grew up in Yukon, OK and is enrolled as a member of the Kiowa tribe of Oklahoma and is also half Navajo. James currently works as an environmental scientist with NOAA’s National Ocean Service, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in Charleston, SC. There he researches, among other things, the effects of land use on marine organisms and ecotoxicology.

Tracy Boze is a Tlingit of the Raven Moiety, Kaach.ádi (Frog) clan of Southeast Alaska, granddaughter of a chief and proud Alaskan Native. Tracy works as an Investigative Support Technician with NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle, WA. There, she is an environmentalist by providing assistance in a variety of law enforcement activities, programs, and outreach to partners and the public.

Personal reflections on your journey to NOAA:

James: Before my bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University, I had never been east of Oklahoma; So I took a job on the east coast to see places I had never been before. The first research project I was hired to do was a research partnership between the University of South Carolina and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). I was fortunate that the project manager who originally hired me saw my potential, which ultimately led to a permanent position at NMFS.

During my time at NMFS, I was offered the opportunity to further my education by earning a master’s degree in environmental studies.

Tracy: I wanted to work for the federal government when I found out that my grandparents were also civil servants. They didn’t talk much about their work growing up, but I know it wasn’t easy for them. Their generation didn’t complain, and they were fortunate to have their jobs, especially at a time when young people were traditionally housed in boarding schools away from their families. So when it came time to look for a new job, I was referred to a state and county position with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) working on the new Individual Fisheries Quota (IFQ) program. worked roll out. I held this position for a little over 6 years. After a bit of a hiatus in county and state government, I returned to OLE a little over 2 years later and was hired as a full-time employee.

Are there values ​​from your origin or culture that contribute to your work?

James: My upbringing in Kiowa/Navajo traditions and ceremonies has certainly influenced my work as a scientist. I was taught from a young age that all things have a place in our world. One lesson I remember was around the age of 6, when I was stirring up an anthill and receiving a stern correction from my grandfather that the ants serve a purpose and that we must respect that purpose. At ceremonial events I was also taught to always follow protocol and respect the process. This mindset is important when conducting laboratory experiments and other methods, such as B. Field logs, while field data such as sediment, water or tissue samples are collected.

Tracy: One wonderful thing about Alaskan Native culture that I bring with me is a love of storytelling. My grandfather was a storyteller and I always enjoyed listening to him and telling his stories. We all have a story to tell, and membership in NOAA’s American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group (ERG) gives us a voice, a platform, and a community that we all lean on, learn from, and share can encourage.

Why are you co-chair of AIAN ERG?

James: I think my role as Co-Chair of the AIAN ERG is to encourage the team to be creative and get involved in the various Native American heritage programs across the Department of Commerce. I try to remember that our group brings a unique perspective that can show any trade agency the things they may not have considered, such as: B. Life and work experiences.

When NOAA began assembling the American Indian Alaska Native Employee Resource Group (ERG), I attended the first meeting and initially played a quiet “bird on the fence” role. I liked the team and felt comfortable in the group. Within a year the opportunity to become co-chair presented itself and I felt compelled to move up. I made up several excuses initially, but I knew it was exactly that and I don’t regret my decision.

Tracy: Looking back, I remember it was at the end of calendar year 2019 when NOAA employees received an email asking for volunteers to help the Office of Inclusion and Civil Rights (OICR) at the To support Native American education and outreach. There I found a place I was proud to be a part of and jumped at the chance to be a leader, hoping to bring creativity, passion and encouragement to the team. As Co-Chair these past few years have been incredibly fulfilling and I am grateful for the opportunity to put my name forward for another term.

What do you enjoy most about your job at NOAA?

James: I’ve had a lot of opportunities in my career and I’ve learned from a lot of people. The part of my job that I enjoy the most is teaching younger academic staff and students. I mainly do field research that requires attention while working. I also like having the opportunity to work with NOAA employees from different regions and different line offices.

Tracy: The best part of my job is knowing that we all make a difference, and my work in the Enforcement Office has had a significant impact on the sustainability of fisheries for future generations.

What inspires you?

James: I’m inspired by people who do their best even when there doesn’t seem to be a solution. I am inspired by the optimism I see in younger academic staff; It’s easy to forget that they didn’t have the experiences I have and I enjoy passing those experiences on to them.

I am also inspired and proud of my family’s tradition of public service.

Tracy: Earlier this year, during my son’s senior year of high school, he made the decision to join the US military and is currently training to become a US Marine. When he listed the reasons he wanted to serve, he said at the top that there are many superheroes that go beyond comics and movies. He said there are everyday heroes who serve the community and the nation. He looked at my husband and I and said that we are all heroes in our work. He nodded to me and said that NOAA is there to protect our nation’s waters, and then he looked at his father and said he was a hero for protecting people’s well-being and covering needs in his role as a representative for clinical complaints. The thought that even our professions had an influence on his path brought us to tears. Then he said that he too wanted to be a hero like us. “Gasps!”.

Hearing his words with the same attitude I had with my grandparents because they wanted to serve our community is profound and so rewarding.

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