Arnold AFB leaders highlight cultural resources program with Alabama-Coushatta Tribe representative

  • Published
  • By Kali Bradford
  • AEDC Public Affairs

Arnold Air Force Base Cultural Resources leaders welcomed a Tribal Historic Preservation representative of a federally recognized tribe, Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, to the base on March 6.

The purpose of the visit was to provide a face-to-face, government-to-government consultation with the tribe while reviewing and discussing the cultural resources program at Arnold.

Since 2004, there here have been government-to-government meetings at Arnold. The meetings are requirements of applicable laws and regulations the base must follow regarding consulting with tribal governments.

Delvin Johnson was the tribal representative of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe for the Tribal Consultation at Arnold AFB, headquarters of Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

AEDC Commander Col. Randel Gordon began the meeting by welcoming Johnson and presented him with a painting by local artist and former AEDC employee Don Northcutt. The painting, which showcased the J-6 rocket testing facility surrounded by nature and its inhabitants, was presented by Gordon as a token of appreciation of Johnson’s visit to Arnold and also a communication of how serious the environment is taken on base.

“What I love about the painting is that it focuses on the work that we do, but also the stewardship of the environment that we are very mindful of. This print is a gift to all that deem Arnold Air Force Base special,” Gordon stated.

In appreciation of the warm welcome, Johnson offered a blessing in his mother’s native language from the Coushatta tribe.

“I want to speak in the first language that I heard when I came into the world, and that was my mother’s language,” Johnson explained. “We follow our mother’s ways. My mother was Coushatta, and my father was Alabama-Coushatta. To come here is very special, because Coushatta’s roamed this area. This was their home for thousands of years.”

Following Johnson’s blessing, Col. Gordon provided an overview of the research and testing capabilities of the facilities onsite at Arnold as well as AEDC’s geographically separated units. He also expressed his appreciation for Johnson’s visit and opportunity to showcase the base’s environmental efforts.

“We are very honored and very happy to have you here,” Gordon said. “We are glad to be able to do this for a couple of reasons. One is that you’ll see that our mission is really and truly important. The other side is that when I arrived here, my first reaction was what a spectacularly beautiful location we have here. If we are not doing our part to preserve this for future generations, then we are not doing our job. There is a respect for the land, there is a respect for the history. Hopefully, we communicate that there is good use of this land, and we are being good stewards of it. We are also doing something that is important for the defense of freedom around the world as well.” 

Dr. Amy Turner, natural and cultural resources planner at Arnold, added that the visits are important to continue the robust relationship between Arnold and the Tribes.

“The base, along with the Cultural Resources program, has done such a great job over the years in keeping the relationship with our tribal partners going strong,” she said. “This has been done by continuing to consult and reach out. We hope to continue that in the same strong relationship as we move forward into the future.”

Arnold consults with 15 federally recognized Native American governments on cultural resource issues. They are the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Alabama-Quassarte Tribal Town, Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, Cherokee Nation, Chickasaw Nation, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, Shawnee Tribe, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Kialgee Tribal Town, Muscogee (Creek) Nation and Poarch Band of Creek Indians.