By NICK DUKENovember 27, 2013
FORT BENNING, Ga., (Nov. 27, 2013) -- With November marking Native American Heritage Month, Fort Benning garrison officials took the opportunity to hold one of their biannual consultations with representatives from several federally recognized tribes Nov. 19-20.
During the consultation, tribal leaders, who largely represent Indians with ancestral ties to the Creek Indians, brought suggestions on ways to increase public awareness of Fort Benning's ties to tribal history.
One suggestion was for a display at Oxbow Meadows, said Christopher Hamilton, coordinator for Native American affairs and chief of the Environmental Programs Management Branch.
"We're working on displays at Oxbow Meadows that will show the human ecology and the Indian adaptation to the region," Hamilton said. "It'll show how well they used the resources available to them given the technology they had."
The consultations are traditionally held in May and November, and Hamilton said the tribal leaders bring suggestions for initiatives or programs they would like to see implemented.
The progress on each set of suggestions is then discussed at the next consultation, with suggestions ranging from educational programs to increasing protected areas on post.
Hamilton said the consultations with the tribal representatives began in 1996 during land exchange discussions between Columbus and Fort Benning.
"It became apparent during the land exchange with the city that we should be coordinating with the tribes," Hamilton said.
"Army and Department of Defense policy has developed over time to make it a more formalized event."
The next consultation is planned for sometime in May 2014, and Hamilton said Fort Benning officials will continue to be receptive of the tribal leaders' suggestions.
"We're going to continue to work with the tribes and take their good advice on how to best treat the cultural resources and the burials that we are proud to be stewards of," he said.