Cultural resources effort documents oral history of American Indian workers at Camp Navajo
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – Stories of American Indian workers at Camp Navajo, Ariz., will be a part of the site’s historical record forever.
Camp Navajo Garrison Training Center and the Arizona Army National Guard have a richer understanding of their own history thanks to the Camp Navajo Cultural Resources Management Program oral history project.
The project began as an effort to mitigate range development impacts on Indian Village, established for the American Indian crews who helped construct the installation in the 1940s. It included documenting the experiences and history of the American Indians who helped build Camp Navajo. More than 200 individuals with connections to American Indian workers participated in the oral history project.
“The ethnographic oral history project is not only an innovative mitigation method, but it also directly supports the Camp Navajo military mission by allowing this land to be converted for training,” said Lt. Col. Adrian Nagel, garrison commander for the Camp Navajo Garrison Training Center. “This project also illustrates Camp Navajo’s superb consultation with, and inclusion of, American Indian communities, and the cultural resources management team’s outreach and education efforts.”
Camp Navajo’s cultural resources management staff accomplished several major program milestones, including the ethnographic oral history of Indian Village and an installation-wide survey to inventory all historic property, affirming full cultural resources management compliance on the installation. The historic properties inventory identified 272 archaeological sites, 128 of which are eligible for listing on the National Register, including the Indian Village site.
Camp Navajo’s cultural resources management program manages prehistoric, American Indian and colonial archaeological resources and artifacts on Camp Navajo. Prehistoric lithic scatters are frequent on Camp Navajo, and tools, arrowheads, obsidian reduction areas and pottery can be found. Artifacts recovered at Camp Navajo are registered, maintained and catalogued through the Arizona ARNG’s partnership with the Arizona State Museum.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for the Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, Tad Davis recognized Arizona ARNG, Camp Navajo for the Army’s most outstanding cultural resources management installation effort in fiscal year 2008. The Secretary of the Army Environmental Awards [http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/awards00.html] represent the highest honor in the field of environmental science conferred by the Army.
“The Army is committed to protecting the environment at installations here and overseas,” Davis said. “In fact, as the winners of our environmental awards demonstrate, the Army is getting more and more sophisticated in its use of environmental technology and sustainable practices. We’re becoming a greener shade of green.”
An independent panel of judges made up of professionals from federal, state and Army organizations recommended Arizona ARNG, Camp Navajo for the award. “Camp Navajo’s government-to-government consultation with federally recognized Indian tribes is encouraging. It should be seen as a model for other installations in developing and maintaining these important relationships for the stewardship of historic properties,” said Katharine Kerr, award judge and historic preservation specialist for the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. Arizona ARNG, Camp Navajo will go on to compete for the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards this year.