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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2024

A seat at the table

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dana Tourtellotte 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

In a display of mutual respect and collaboration, JBLE leadership welcomed members and representatives of the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Delaware Nation, Nansemond Indian Nation, and the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, for its annual government-to-government Tribal Consultation, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 19, 2024.

These meetings aim to share information and plans related to JBLE lands, strengthening the bond between military leaders and federally recognized Native American Tribes and Nations.

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Altman, 633d Air Base Wing commander, expressed his appreciation for the annual consultation by coining each of the tribal members or representatives in attendance. Tribal Chief Keith F. Anderson of the Nansemond Indian Nation, in turn, coined Altman.

 “We have many aligning interests, including shoreline stabilization, climate resiliency, and the importance of protecting historic sites on the installation,” said Altman. “This is a tremendous opportunity to partner on those challenges as we cultivate even stronger relationships with the tribes.”

The annual meetings are an opportunity to address new topics or provide updates tailored to the evolving needs of both parties.

“This year, there are a growing number of federally recognized tribes in attendance,” said Dr. Christopher L. McDaid, 733d Mission Support Group archaeologist. “The improved attendance [is something] we hope to continue to make in-roads [on by] providing increasingly optimal conditions [for attendees].

The importance of maximum tribal attendance was echoed by everyone at the consultation, but was best voiced by Anderson who said: “JBLE have been pioneers of seeing the importance of tribes and making them a part of their dynamic [through this consultation]. This is important for tribes [to attend because] for years we didn’t have a seat at the table; we weren’t even invited to things such as this.”

All tribal representatives expressed interest in how JBLE is addressing challenges posed by climate change, such as rising sea-levels and shoreline erosion. Attendees were briefed on holistic ecosystem management and ongoing efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the installation.

Other topics discussed during the consultation were the Installation Development Plan, Installation Restoration Program, and Community Involvement Plan; all ensuring the indigenous community and the broader public stay informed about JBLE’s future development plans and methodical process to protect the environment.

“The information shared during this consultation from JBLE provides continuous updates,” said Anderson. “It serves as a catalyst for leaders [like me] to learn more about it or attend more consultations like this or to even just become more knowledgeable on these [subjects] so as to be better servants to the tribe.”