Bulletts, Angelita Oral History Interview
This is Paul Hirt and Jennifer Sweeney of Arizona State University, interviewing Angelita Bulletts in St. George, Utah on February 5th, 2020. Angie, thank you so much for sitting here for an interview with us. Could you start out by telling us, uh, the positions that you’ve held in the Adaptive Management Program and the years that you were involved?
When I first started, it–I was working for the [Kaibab Paiute] Tribe as, just the, a non-paying position, which is the tribal, um (pause) in the tribal Cultural Resources Committee. And so they managed a lot of the tribal and federal government interactions. And so, uh, I was the chair of that committee for our tribe–
For the Kaibab Paiute Tribe. And so I, um, held that, uh, chairmanship for, probably, like four or five years. So in–
What years was that?
1990 I started, um, as a chair, and went through probably like three years of, of managing different federal, um, agency projects for our tribe as far as consultation goes. Um, and then, after that, uh, during that time, I was (pause) I think immediately after, probably like 1993, um, they created a position, which was a paid position, to manage cultural resources. Which was all-encompassing, it was not only the archeology and other things like that, but it was also, um, consultations, having responsibility for consultations with, um, having a government-to-government relationship with federal agencies, managing cultural resources within our tribe, material cultures, so teaching, teaching the material culture of our people to (pause) our tribal membership.
But during that time, in 1990, we had first had our–we had our first meeting with the National Park Service, Grand Canyon. Their archeologists came and talked to the tribe about the possibility of being a cooperating agency for the Glen Canyon EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]. And so they explained all that to the tribe, and at that time, I think there was also a previous conversation in 1989, when it had first gotten started, and they came and talked to the tribe and they weren’t interested. They didn’t want to do anything. And then when they came again, uh, later on in 1990 or nine–I, may, it might’ve been 1991, we, they had a discussion about it and the tribe was interested, but it was with the caveat that, um, the tribe would have to have a contract for the Glen Canyon EIS because we weren’t going to do it for free, because it took so much time and people’s time commitment for our tribal elders to travel, and they needed an honorarium, those kinds of things. And there was a lot of complexity associated with, um, those projects. And at that time we didn’t have the expertise. So our tribe contracted–well, our tribe decided–let me back up a little bit. Our tribe decided to, um, create the Southern Paiute Consortium. And the Southern Paiute Consortium consisted of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, which is in Utah. And it manages, or it has, under its umbrella, five bands. And Shivwits [Band of Paiutes] is one of those. And then, um, the Consortium, depending on what kind of grants we got, sometimes we had like a, for instance, a tribal youth, uh, camp grant, where we taught, um, our young tribal people, the material culture–about the material culture of our tribe. So we would have camping trips, and so the Southern Paiute Consortium became much bigger than just the Glen Canyon EIS. It’s since shrank down now to only cover the Shivwits Band of Paiutes and the Kaibab Band of Paiutes, which is my tribe.
So the Consortium manages the Glen Canyon (pause) all the work associated now with the Glen Canyon, um, project. But at that time, our tribe, our tribe (pause) created the Southern Paiute Consortium to be the signatory, um, to the programmatic agreement for historic preservation management. We were the signatory for–as a cooperating agency, so we represented the Sh–we represented the Shivwits Band. And then the position, the position that manages, managed the, um, project was in (pause) Pipe Springs. So a lot of–it’s now transitioned, but that’s how I started. And then probably in ’96 I transitioned to, to a completely different position, but I still kind of had oversight to the program, but it was more an administrative position. So I actually worked for the tribal council as the tribal administrator. So my, which is very similar to a city manager. [P.H.: uh-huh.] So the Glen Canyon EIS was just one of the things that, um, I oversaw.
Now you mentioned that you were contacted by the Park Service, I think you said in 1990. Was that by Jan Balsom–
Or somebody that predated her? Jan.
That was Jan Balsom.
Jan Balsom came and did a presentation and, at that time, the Hualapai were already a cooperating agency, so Loretta (pause) from the Hualapai Tribe (pause).
Jackson. Thank you. Loretta Jackson came and, came with her, and did the presentation, and explained to the tribe about, about the Glen Canyon EIS. So that’s kind of how we started, then. I think our tribe agreed that we would, um, be involved in, in the EIS.
Great. So, so the EIS itself is kind of what launched the Adaptive Management Program. Did you remain as a–even while you were working for the tribe, did you remain as a representative to the Adaptive Management Program after the EIS was completed in the program launch?
I probably did it till 1994, before they started the monitoring program. Once the EIS was signed, um, I (pause) I removed myself, and then the program, the tribal program for the Kaibab Paiute then went into monitoring mode after that. So they were monitoring cultural resources. But during the time that I was working from 1990, probably 1991 to 1994, it was all the studies. So it was the archeology, the rock art, um, wildlife biology and ethnobotany. So all of those studies were done then. And then once all those studies were completed with U of A [University of Arizona], then, um, then the tribe transitioned to the monitoring program, and developed the monitoring program with the University of Arizona.
Who, who were you working with at the University of Arizona in doing that contractual research?
The principal investigator was Richard Stoffle. And eventually, uh, I think by the time we finished all of the, uh, research, then, when it was rolling into monetary, we started to work with, um, Diane Austin.
And so Diane Austin, she remains with the project. And the monitoring project. For the tribe.
Is she still at the University of Arizona?
And she represents the tribe when there’s cultural impact studies that need to be done, or–
No. She’s like the professional part of (pause) she’s like the scientist that the tribe contracts to do the monitoring. So she is, I would say, the scientist, and um, she (pause) she organizes the monitoring data and figures out, um, you know, any changes, things like that in the monitoring. And then she, she and her staff create the reports. And that’s what the tribe contracts. So the, the tribe itself has its own tribal monitors. It has people that go down and do the monitoring from both of our tribes, the Shivwits Band and from Kaibab. And so they go down and do the monitoring.
Monitoring of cultural resources to check for impacts.
Yes. From the prior research. So what they’re, what they’re, um, monitoring is all of the, the resources, the Paiute resources that are down there that, um, we did and we put in the report during the research portion.
So did you spend some time in the 1990s and 2000s, uh, attending Adaptive Management Work Group meetings or Technical Work Group meetings, or being involved in any of the decision-making and policy development?
I did. I, uh, most of the time, I would say, I was probably the decision maker for the tribe. So I attended, um, the AMP [Adaptive Management Program] meetings, I attended–actually even before the AMP meetings. During the time when we were doing research, when it was, um, Flagstaff, a Flagstaff location for the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies. GCES.
Yeah. So GC—
(Speaking simultaneously) They had phase one and phase two.
Yes. GCES. I was the original GCES, and so I would go there for meetings and we would, um, talk about, uh, the research we were doing. At that time we were talking about the Programmatic Agreement for historic preservation. That was pretty contentious. And then we–and that took a lot of, a lot of time, so it was more the organization of it. And then it went into the AMP, Adaptive Management Program. That took, probably a couple years even for it to stand up, because it was (pause) I think because it’s so, it was so new and they were trying to, trying to do adaptive management, it was very, um–they were having a hard time figuring out what does that mean, and, you know, how does adaptive management work, that kind of thing. But you know, now they’re, they’ve been going for decades, so, I think it’s probably much better.
So you mentioned (cough) that it was, um, time consuming, a little difficult and sometimes contentious in the early years trying to get this program, the studies up and running. Can you, um, elaborate a little bit further on your experiences in that formative period? What were you trying to accomplish and, um, what were some of the difficulties and some of, uh, the successes?
There was a lot of tribes that were, um (pause) initially involved, and that was the Hopi and the Hualapai Tribe. Then came, uh, the Navajo, and us (pause) and there was one more. What’s the other one? Later on it was the Zuni–
Yeah. Later on it was the Zuni that came, the Havasupai, um, never really, um, were involved because they didn’t want to–because they live there, and they didn’t want to be involved with it, and they didn’t want the Hualapai representing them, so they virtually stayed out of it though they lived right there. Um (pause) I think it was more (pause) the complexity of all of this whole, uh, from the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies all the way to, um, monitoring and developing the adaptive management and all of their different groups and subgroups, the complexity of all of that, I think, has taken like years and years and years for it to get organized. So when, um, the tribes kind of stood on their own, and initially when we got involved, it was more–and every year for a lot of years it became a big discussion at year-end about who’s funding, why are they funding, why do we have to fund you guys? And, you know, things like that. And it, it had a lot to do with money, all the time. And, I think for us, the difficulty was that we were removed. We didn’t live right at the Grand Canyon, our reservation wasn’t bordering the park or the river, and so, um, it made it a difficult conversation. Yet, but because we could say, “We have done all the research, we know we were there in the 1800s. We can show you pictures, we have photos. Here we were.” And, you know, a lot of our, uh, the Shivwits people and the Kaibab people, a lot of us are the remnants of what was other bands here and there, and some along the rim. And so, um (long pause) genealogy says, for the Shivwits people, a lot of their people were born, uh, right there at Sunup [Sunup or Sanup Mountain]. So that’s where they came from. So we could prove that we were there, and there’s a lot of historical documentation about us, with the Hualapai, um, fighting with the army and, you know, in, uh, National Canyon, things like that. So, um, no one could tell us that we were not there and–that we were removed from there.
Do you remember what explanation was given early on for, um, why the federal government wanted the Kaibab Paiute and other Paiute bands and tribes to participate in this program? What, what was, what were you hearing when you were being invited to, um, participate in GCES?
Well, I would say that it was Jan Balsom who, of course, had been at the Grand Canyon National Park forever, had done a lot of research, and she was really the one that was instrumental in involving, um, the Southern Paiute people. So it was really at her insistence, I think, that, uh, the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies, um, that they involved us. For that reason. Because we had a lot of history there, so it was really her. I think if she hadn’t been there, we probably wouldn’t even have been asked or invited or (pause) or involved at all, really.
And you suggest that, um, there was some contention or resistance maybe to, um, fully incorporating tribal perspectives and funding, uh, tribal studies and inventories. Um, did that change over time? Did you find that, you know, at the beginning it sounds like you had Jan Balsom as a, as a great ally. Um, did you develop additional allies over time? Did the people who were making funding decisions, um, come around to recognizing the value of tribal input over time? What–how did you see that evolve?
I would say it was very program manager-dependent. So whoever was working for the Bureau of Reclamation for the Upper Colorado River region for the Bureau of Reclamation, whether it was easy or difficult. Um, some years, I think, when they had a change of administrators and managers, um, the conversations would change. And so some years, um–though it’s never happened, some years, uh, they would get close–the tribes would get close to the end and, you know, when it was time to get funded and they weren’t getting funded. So they would have to, um, very much politicalize it in order to get the funding, you know, maybe even talk to the director of the Upper Colorado region. So it was really dependent, to me, on the program manager and their willingness to fund. But for a lot of years, the research, that wasn’t difficult. It’s the monitoring part that I think they’re ha–they had difficulty with. And maybe it’s different now, I’ve never really asked in the, probably in the last decade, about their funding, but they, they continue to get funded. And I know what the University of Arizona, uh, helps and provides technical assistance to the tribes, uh, with is, um (pause) their (pause) soliciting of funds and/or, uh, creating and writing proposals to get, to get funded to diff–do different kind of research, or monitoring models, or things like that.
Can you be a little more specific about what kinds of things were being funded? What, what were you, what was the tribe getting money to do?
Um, well, initially it was the research, then it went into the monitoring and the monitoring reports. So I think that the tribe, um, was very, is very good at providing those monitoring reports and say, “This is the impact that we’re, that the dam is having on the resources.” The Southern Paiute resources. Um, there are other tribes that get funded without a report. I don’t know how that works, but I know it has happened. Um, and then the tribe also has done some, um (pause) some research with, uh, young people in trying to transition the young people–the Southern Paiute young people into understanding the resources that are in the Colorado River. Um, and then sometimes they’ve, um, done a proposal for education, providing education to the public. Which is a real strong component for us in the early years, um, with the commercial river runners. So. The tribe was providing education to the river runners, for them to understand the resources.
We have, we have heard similar things from other interviewees, and it occurs to me that, um, some of the other tribal representatives that we’ve spoken to have talked about the ways in which, um, uh, the research and the funding, uh, to the tribe has gone to document cultural resources, which are really important, to monitor whether they’re being preserved or, um, at risk. Um, but also they’ve talked quite a bit about how just the process of being involved has been a kind of an empowering experience, an educational experience and um, has led to, um, efforts to inculcate an understanding of tribal history and tribal culture in the younger generation. We heard that from Leigh Kuwanwisiwma too. Um, can you talk a little bit more about how tribal participation in the program has, what impact it’s had on the tribe itself?
Well, there’s a, there is a component in the tribal monitoring, um, that happens annually, that includes, uh, young people, you know, those, those people that are probably like sixteen, eighteen, um, all the way up to like their thirties. So that’s what I consider young people, right? (Laughter.)
Yeah, same here!
So those young people, so those young people are taught–because you never really, um, as a Southern Paiute person, unless you go hike down there, you really don’t see the Grand Canyon, um, you don’t, you don’t see it from the bottom up. And so, um, the monitoring is inclusive of that education and, that tribal education, of younger people. But what they’re also doing is monitoring at the same time. So they’re not there just for a leisurely trip. What they’re there for is to monitor and then, as part of that education component, to be able to transition and to convey our culture to younger people. So yeah, that’s what happens. The I think, um, when they involve the younger people is how, um (pause) you know, you’re taught, you’re taught about the Grand Canyon and you’re, even so far as your family history and, um, and then all the resources that are down there. So it’s not just about, like, the archeology or the rock art, it’s more of that larger cultural landscape. So, we can say, like there is, uh, for instance, one place in the Grand Canyon, which is a six-mile stretch, so for us that six-mile stretch is very sacred and very important. But it’s very inclusive of all the things that are within that six-mile stretch. It’s not just site-specific, so it’s much bigger. It’s a broader landscape. So it’s important to explain that to younger people, that it’s not just about the rock art that’s here on this panel. It’s not just about this, you know, this piece of archeology that sits here on the shore. It’s not just about–it’s very much inclusive of the whole six miles.
Um, how do you feel, um, about, um, the ability of the Kaibab Paiute to, um, impact or affect decision-making in the program? I know there’s a lot of different stakeholders all seeking, um, support for, you know, the things that they value and, you know, everybody has to sit around at the table and negotiate those, and then they come up with some kind of consensus or compromise positions. Um, talk a little bit about how Kaibab Paiute concerns have been, um, received and integrated into decision making, uh, in the program.
I think it really is dependent on not each tribe standing alone, but all the tribes standing together in trying to be, or trying to influence the decision makers. Um, because there are so many stakeholders and people care about fish, people care about the water, people care about, you know, there’s so many things, the, the hydroelectric power that comes out of there, there are so many stakeholders there that, um, one voice doesn’t do it there. Because there are just so many players in this whole, um, Glen Canyon, uh, project, that, uh, I think if the tribe, or the tribes were, you know, the Southern Paiute Consortium were to stand alone and say one thing, I don’t think it would really have the effect versus, um, all of the tribes at least having that, um that voice together, one unified voice. But I think even with the tribes all together at times, it doesn’t make an impact, because there are so many stakeholders. So I don’t know how–politically, people could say, well, we don’t want, you know, the tribes could have–I don’t think the tribes would be able to say, “Well, we don’t want to have the hydroelectric power. We want you to shut off the dam.” That’s not going to make a whole heck of a lot of difference, what the tribes say about that, because that’s very much a economic and political thing (short laugh).
That’s not on the table.
Yeah, that is not (laughs), that is not something that anybody’s going to say, “Yeah, okay. Well, we’ll consider that.” Because they won’t.
Can you point to any examples of, um, of successes you’ve had in pushing forward a certain program, or policy, or research or something?
Um (pause) really, I think it’s more of a matter of just sustaining. It was just sustaining, um, our voice in the whole project itself. Um, because I think there was a lot of, um, there was a lot of (pause) viewpoints of people that, it really wasn’t that important. As long as the research was done, we were good to go, and there wasn’t anything else that the tribe needed to do. So, um, yeah. That’s what I would say.
How do you think things might have been different if Jan Balsom had never come and invited you, or if the program leaders just decided tribal input was not that important? Uh, what do you think would have been different?
I think it either–just history-wise, with large projects like that, what I would say is, they would come after the fact, um, after a decision is signed and they would say, “Well, that’s already done, but let’s talk about it now,” when it’s too late. And so that’s really, that’s just historic. That’s what always happens. Um, but I think if Jan Balsom had not been there, I think it would have just have been the Hopi and the Hualapai. Because, of course, they’re right there. So, um, that’s what I think.
Um, in some of your professional background, you did some work in, um, Traditional Ecological Knowledge and talked, uh–you work for the Forest Service now. Um, and you’ve talked about the ways in which, um, Traditional Ecological Knowledge is being integrated into forest management decision-making, um, and difficulty of doing that sometimes, but also some successes. Um, can you elaborate a little bit about what Traditional–
Give you an example?
Yeah, some examples.
OK. So, probably the most, the most clear, clearest example for me is, um, the use of fire. For Southern Paiutes, for Great Basin people, fire was very important in, um, these ecosystems, and fire plays an important role. So traditionally and culturally, um, our stories tell us, and our beliefs tell us, how important fire is and how powerful fire is, and what you do, um, in relation to lightning during the monsoon season, how you can scare fire, things like that. But there’s also that deep use of fire to manage, manage ecosystems. And our people were very experienced in that. So you can see a lot of places where, uh, now it’s overgrown, and that’s why we have these mega-fires that people call it. We have these mega-fires because there’s so much brush there. But what our people were doing were clearing, clearing acres and acres of land. And it was, it was generally for the animals, so the animals and the vegetation was there for them. It was to clear places, it was also, like, riparian areas, we cleared in order to have, uh, willows grow straighter, better for baskets, because our people were very dependent on basketry making. We didn’t evolve a lot in pottery. We use baskets. Because they were very mobile and it could carry water. So for us, um, that whole, um, piece about fire and the use of fire is very much entrenched in our culture. So, that’s probably my best example of that. So when (pause) when I have decisions about, um, burning on the forest, for me, it’s very much entrenched into my culture, so I don’t have that fear about, well, it possibly blow up and it could burn, you know, acres and acres because, you know, inherently, uh, trees are going to burn one–sometime or another. They’re either going to be started naturally or, (pause) man-made, unfortunately. But, um, there (pause) it helps the environment with burning and maintaining, maintaining the ecosystem.
Do you know if there was any, um, uh, incorporation of fire management into the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program at any point?
No. There is only one tree that I know that we talked about in our, um, cultural, um, inventories, and it’s a cottonwood tree that, that sits above that three hundred (pause) line. Three hundred yard line.
Would that be three hundred year flood line, or–
Yeah, maybe that’s what it is. What is it called?
It’s like the 300,000 cfs [cubic feet per second] line, or something like that.
Yeah, cfs line. Yeah. But it’s above there. But we talked about it because it’s a cottonwood tree that came from somewhere. There is no other cottonwood trees but that one.
Hmm. Pretty old one, I take it?
Yeah. Big. Old.
Is there any traditional knowledge incorporated in the monitoring efforts? The Kaibab monitoring efforts, or–the Kaibab Paiute, or is there, was there in the initial research for the EIS?
I mean, we did it–
Well, just, like traditional, uh, ways of seeing the environment as opposed to like, um, traditional scientific-oriented?
Well, I would say yes, just because we designed it. [J.S.: mm-hmm.] And so there is, uh (pause) typically, in formal science, you don’t see connectivity between, say, vegetation and, um, geology. Well we do. So that connectivity is included in the monitoring. Um, and it’s included because it’s part of that whole landscape. And it has value. (Pause.) So, yes (laughs).
Um, so a historical analysis of something tends to focus on change over time. We’re interested in your perceptions about how the Adaptive Management Program may have changed over time. Did you see any, like, trends or periods in which things were different? You mentioned that sometimes it depended on who was in charge of the program, different emphases might evolve. Can you talk about change over time?
Um, I would say yes, it depends–it depended on who was sitting in the seat as the program manager. Um, and let me give you a for instance. When we started the research, uh, part of our deliverable for the money that the tribes received was a report. But our tribes decided (pause) the Kaibab Paiute Tribe and the Shivwits Tribe, decided the report had so much cultural data in there, what we would deliver is the, the, like the executive summary that goes in the front, and then a report that had blank pages. And those were the pages that had, like, the cultural data on there, like site location, what it was, what the significant was, what it–changes over time, that kind of thing, and how it was significant to like certain, a certain band, or a certain family, and things like that. And so for us, that was cultural data that we didn’t want to have distributed, though we were assured that, um, it was going to be locked in a, in a secure place, and you know, those reports would stay, you know, with the Glen Canyon Environmental Studies, you know, for time immemorial (pause) and all that. But interestingly, what happened, we chose not to give it to um, them, to (pause).
The Bureau of Reclamation?
Yeah. To the Bureau of Reclamation, to their office in Flagstaff. We chose to give like a skeleton sort of a report. So it was the exact same report that we had here at the Kaibab Paiute Tribe, but it had blank pages. So we had the original and then they had the ones with the blank pages because we didn’t want to give out that information. So, um (pause) and like I said, we were assured that it would be secure, that kind of thing. Well (pause) one year, probably in about maybe, ’98, it was years, years later, probably the documents were, probably, eight to ten years old. I was at University of Arizona in a bookstore right off of campus. And I found that report. I found our report, and it was stamped–and I still have it at work. It’s stamped in front and it says “Glen Canyon Environmental Studies, not to be removed.”
It was in a bookstore?
It was in a bookstore. So I bought it, I bought it and I have it. I have it. And it was a good thing that we had–we had decided, no, we’re not going to give you the data, because it’s not going to be secure and we refuse to do it. And there was a lot of (pause) a lot of, heated discussion back and forth because it was supposed to be a deliverable. And we understood that. But we kind of knew that, with changes in program managers and how, um, things go, that it couldn’t be kept secretly somewhere. So, um, we let the other tribes know, and I don’t know what happened to their reports, but we let them know what happened to us in that situation. And I don’t know where the other reports went. So I think just in–that’s one of the things that I see that, that–to me, that may not be like program management, but yet, for me, that was like a significant thing that you can’t really, um–
Ensure. You just can’t ensure that those documents are going to be safe and secure for time and eternity, because they’re not. People change. Things change, and they forget, you know, the, or they don’t know what the agreements are.
Of course there’s a long history of people looting archeological sites or damaging them. And that’s a key reason why you don’t want to reveal the–
Location or existence, and so that’s a very serious issue. And, yeah. Disturbing, actually. Um, any other, like, events that happened in the history of the program that you remember specifically, that had a big impact on either the evolution of the program or, um, Kaibab Paiutes’ interests or participation level? Like floods for example. A number of people have mentioned the, you know, the ’83, ’84, uh, floods were a big deal. Jan Balsom talked quite a bit about that. Um, um, you know, the first, um, High Flow Experiment (HFE), um, was a big deal for a number of people. Can you point to any particular events that changed (pause) direction of the program or your participation?
I think because it was all experimental, and it continues to be experimental, I think, um, any of those like high flood events, um, changes in the way the water flows. You know, for us that’s very, um (pause) for the Bureau of Reclamation, it’s more of an administrative and management type of decision that they make. For us it’s very cultural-based, because it’s water. For us, water is very powerful. Water can um, sustain life and water also takes away life. So for us, those, those high flood events, um, yeah, they’re experimental in nature and thank goodness they’re short term the way they manage those. But I don’t think there is any, any kind of, um, managerial decision that they make with the water, with the waters or the dam, that really is going to make a difference in–there’s a dam there, holding the water. There’s, there’s nothing that can, um, there’s nothing that they can do to mock [mimic] the naturalness of how water is supposed to flow. And so for us, that’s very basic. You know, you can’t, water for us is, are like peop–is like a person, like a, um, personality, where water gets angry, and water does things that, um, people are surprised at. Well, for us, water is like a person. It can get angry and it does those things. That’s water, that’s what water does. So. (Long pause.)
Can you mention a few other individuals, other than Jan Balsom, who have, you think personally, have had a significant impact on the program over time? Other people that we should be sure to highlight in the administrative history, and perhaps even interview.
Hmm–I think the first program manager, he was very good. Um, somebody Wegner. What was his name?
Dave Wegner. He was very good, and I think he, he, um, managed the program so there was somewhat of trust in the program and where it was heading. Uh, and then of course, like you said, there was Jan Balsom who, who was very instrumental in, in making sure that tribes were involved and that they, they were maintained in the whole process. Um, I would say her assistant Chris Coder. He was an archeologist for her too, and he did a lot of years of archeology for her, for Jan Balsom. Um, you know, other than that, I think people come and they go. I don’t even remember, like, what directors were there. I mean, because they just came and went.
How about, more generally, the value of the program over time? Um, you know, this is thirty- some years that this program has been in place and if we include Glen Canyon Environmental Studies that you were talking about earlier, we’re looking on forty years of an effort to create a collaborative process to make difficult decisions about how to mitigate the impacts of a massive dam on downstream resources. Is it a valuable program? Is it working? How might it be improved?
I think it is a major example on how to be inclusive of so many stakeholders. And the complexity (pause) is (pause) it brings, like, this whole other (pause) hmm, research, set of research that has to be done, because if they didn’t include all of these people, like the fishermen and the sportsmen and you know, just all–everybody, I don’t think they would have gotten the products that they, that they got. Because so many times when the federal government does EISs there’s, there’s always gaps. Because we aren’t that inclusive, because you can’t (pause) you can’t include everybody because this project, I don’t know how much it is, what the price tag is now, but it’s very expensive. But the good thing is, is that the Bureau of Reclamation has money to fund it. So it’s probably, for me, it’s one of the examples of something that’s long sustaining, that has a long history of monitoring. So no matter who comes and looks at all of the information and the data that was collected and everything, you’re going to be able to find what you’re looking for, the answers you’re looking for. If it’s for fish, it’s for shocking fish, if it’s for sand, if it’s for the geology, the water, culture–I mean, there’s like, so many pieces to this whole project, you know, and so many decades of, of data that, how can you not find what you’re looking for? (Pause.) And I don’t know any place else that has something like this. (Pause.)
And that inclusiveness is of particular value, because?
The inclusivity of having so many voices, I think, is what’s valuable. Because a lot of times what happens is, when you have a whole, you’re never going to be able to get that back. So, you have now, or this, this study has how many decades of tribal voices, for instance? How many decades of people in fisheries? How many decades of, like, these river runners, of how the water used to run versus how the water runs now? You know, and how much of a difference that’s made. I mean, I remember when I started going, you know, in the, well in 1990, um, and these people had already been doing it, you know, the environmental studies, you know, the decade before. When we started in 1990, the water ran a lot higher and a lot faster. And now I went probably in 2012 and it’s like running at, I don’t know what it was, but it’s not very high. There’s a lot of, there is a big difference. And you see, you see a lot of change from then to now.
So what do you think are some of the program’s failings or limitations that we might seek to overcome in the future? (Long pause.)
I don’t, I don’t know actually. I would say–what I would have said, I think, if I were asked the question from when we first started, or even when the Adaptive Management Program started, after the decision was signed and the Adaptive Management Program was signed, I would say, um (pause) it was new territory, with a complex, large landscape that nobody knew what to do. And I could not, at that time, have seen success in adaptive management. Because people couldn’t even, I remember sitting in meetings and people could not even describe to me what, what is adaptive management? What does that mean? And how do you do it?”
How long did it take to get a grasp on that? For–
Years! I think it took like three years finally, because they kept coming back to, like–in the beginning, kept coming back to this definition of what they thought it should be. But it didn’t make sense, and it’s now evolved into something much different. But, it was even, writing it down. No one could understand, “What are you talking about?” in adaptive management. Everybody had a concept in their head, but no one, really, could fully describe it. And what it’s evolved to is now something completely different. So I think that, in itself, is probably, um, a model. That you don’t have to go through all that–those years. You can (laughs) you’ve got it now, and you, and you understand what adaptive management is, but I remember that being a big deal.
I think that’s a remarkable observation that, um, people don’t realize that when you try to create something new, um, and you don’t know exactly where you’re going or how you’re going to get there, you’re at a state of ignorance, in a sense. You don’t know the resources, you don’t know the power structure, you don’t know the funding mechanisms necessarily, everything is unknown and up in the air and kind of chaotic, and you have to create order and then move forward in developing understanding. And what I heard you say earlier is that when you develop knowledge, year after year, after year after year, through the monitoring program, for example, that becomes permanent. Part of the record. It, it’s not a gap anymore. It’s not a space that needs to be filled. You have it and it’s there forever in a sense is–am I getting the point?
Right. And then that’s exactly like tribal culture. You know, we didn’t just magically figure out how to (pause) make baskets. We didn’t magically figure out, um, plants that we use for medicinal reasons. It took a lot of trial and error, and the same with adaptive management (laughs). You know, it just didn’t magically happen. (Pause.)
You were going to ask something, Jen?
No, no, I was just–that was a fascinating comparison (laughter).
Adaptive management as basket making.
Well, let’s see.
Where are you at?
I’m near the end.
Down to question two?
We’re down at number 12! (Laughter.)
I thought we were at question two (laughter).
No, we’ve zoomed down to, “Are you hopeful about the program and its future? Why or why not?”
I think as long as the Bureau of Reclamation and others are willing to pay for the cost of it, yes. My hope is, as long as the dam is there, somebody is recognizing that this needs to go on. (Pause.)
Hmm. Well, with climate change and the reservoir falling to 41% of capacity, and people starting to talk about whether we can afford to have two reservoirs anymore, I suppose there’s a possibility in the next ten or twenty years that there won’t be a Lake Powell. Um, would you think then that at that point we wouldn’t–there wouldn’t be funding since it comes from hydropower revenue. Um, would there still be a need for this collaborative adaptive management process and all the monitoring that we’re doing?
I think initially there would be, because when, um, Lake Powell was created, it (pause) it drowned a lot of Paiute resources. There was a lot of Paiute people that had lived there all the way to, um, Rainbow Bridge. And so, because of that, there was a lot of, lot of resources, um, a lot of archeology, but a lot of resources that were, um, then flooded. So I would think even if, even if the dam were to go away, Lake Powell were to go to go away and it were to dry up, there’s a lot of residual cultural material that’s still there. I’m sure. (Speaking simultaneously) That’s what I think..
Has the low lake levels of the past ten or fifteen years exposed some, um, cultural sites or archeological sites that you weren’t aware of before?
I don’t know. I couldn’t tell you. If anyone knows it would be Charley [Bulletts, Cultural Director, Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians].
Because they would know that, yeah, because they would notify them. They wouldn’t notify me, because I’m no one (laughs). So I don’t know.
I know there’s a difference though in the Rainbow Bridge now, something. And that, that is a cultural landscape for us. And so I know there’s changes in, in Rainbow Bridge now, so. That, I know, is happening.
What kind of changes?
Um, there are actually, like, geological changes that are happening to the, to the arch for some reason.
It’s not at risk of collapse, is it?
I don’t know. They closed it for a while and I, I didn’t track. But I know there’s something going on there.
Um (clears throat), what advice do you have for people who are coming onto the program fresh, as a representative of some stakeholder group? What, what advice would you give them?
Hmm. I would say go through, go through the administrative history that somebody is trying to create (laughter), and understand the complexity of, of the whole project. Because it is complex, and there were a lot of players, and there’s a lot of organizations that care about, you know, the, the resources, whatever those are. And so, I think there needs to, anytime I think you’re, you’re wanting to, um, be able to be a participant in (pause) this project, I think you have to know the history. And the history is so long, you can’t start today and think you will ever know anything, if you don’t go back and do the research. You just can’t. There’s just too much, too much of what was going on. I mean, I remember sitting in the Adaptive Management Program meetings, and I swear, the room would be so big, and it was a big square of probably, I would say probably sixty people, and all of them were stakeholders. (Pause.) And they all had to be at the table. You know, and how do you make decisions with sixty people? You don’t (laughter). That’s why it takes, it took years to make, you know, to make simple decisions, because no one was, you know, ever on the same page, because everybody’s, everybody’s, um, resource matters. And how do you do that with sixty people?
In your U.S. Forest Service profile, you mentioned how important it is for you, as Forest Supervisor of the Dixie National Forest, to be working with the communities in and around the forest, many of whom are dependent on the resources in the forest. Can you talk just a little bit about how important it is for federal agencies to have good, open communication and trusting relationships with the communities that share and use those resources?
Well, for me, because I come from a small, rural area, um, my expectation is, is that people (pause) it’s important even for people that come from rural communities to be heard. And a lot of times what happens is, is people from the bigger cities that have, or the politicians that have, um, a large constituency, they get heard, versus the people that come from those rural areas or, or, um, tribal communities. All of those small communities, they don’t get heard. And so for me, because I come from that background, I come from a rural town and I come from a, uh, Indian reservation. I make sure that I listen to those small towns that the Dixie surrounds. That’s important to me. (Pause.)
For–so why? What’s the benefit of doing that? Just to be a little more explicit.
Because those people are actually using the resources that are on the forest, versus those people that may live here, like in St. George or Las Vegas, they, they come for the weekend and they’re gone. But then there are the people that live around there that–they recreate there, they, um, gather wood there, they have, they hunt there. They, um, have livestock there. So people are dependent on the forest and the forest resources. So, to me, that’s important.
Well, you’re a person of authority. You, you have the ability to make decisions about forest management that will affect these communities. Um, does it make your job easier? Um, when you have to make a difficult decision such as in the case of fire management, a lot of people are afraid of fire. They don’t want to see the smoke or see the flames or worry about their homes going up. Yet you have to make decisions about prescribed burning, for example. Does it facilitate your ability to get problems solved, and difficult decisions made, when you have good communication and trust with the communities surrounding the forest?
I would say that’s always a work in progress. And, if we have a bad fire year, we revert back to not having a great relationship, because of a bad circumstance that happened. And so, that’s always a work in progress for us, I think. It just–I think that’s the way it’s always going to be, is that we can’t be 100% right on the mark all the time. And sometimes we don’t do (pause) we don’t make the right decision. And so we have to go back and say, “Okay, well, do this adaptive management. Let’s figure this out. Why didn’t it work?” And then we try again. So, it’s not always–but you know, I, I would say also that, um, I have a whole heck of a lot of scientists that, that are very good, and that they, they do their best to figure out what’s the best thing for the resource. What can we do to make things better? So, right now, um, we’re all about, uh, restoring our forest, restoring the landscape to what it was. And sometimes we have to use fire. Sometimes we have to use heavy equipment, you know, to, to fix riparian areas. And it looks ugly for a while, but then it comes back, and it looks much better than what it did before.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
No, I’m talked out! (Laughter.)
How about you, Jen? Do you have any questions?
What else? What else do you want to know?
No, I don’t have anything. Anything else to add.
See, I’m a yakker, that’s why they have me talk (laughter).
Well, that’s what we like.
Yes, that’s what we need for this project (laughter).
All right, well, we can complete the interview now.
End of recording.
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- St. George, Utah
Interview conducted by: Dr. Paul Hirt, Arizona State University and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC. Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program Administrative History Project. Administered by Arizona State University Supported by a grant from the US Bureau of Reclamation.
Angelita Bulletts represented the Kaibab Paiute Tribe and the Southern Paiute Consortium during the Glen Canyon Dam Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process. Beginning in 1991, she was involved in Glen Canyon Environmental Studies (GCES) and in the early years of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program (GCDAMP) Adaptive Management Work Group (AMWG). After several years as Kaibab Paiute Tribal Administrator, Bulletts held resource management positions with the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Forest Service (USFS). In August 2020, she will start a new position as District Manager for the BLM Southern Nevada District. Bulletts holds a BA in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University.
Bulletts, Angelita Oral History Interview 2-05-2020
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- 52.02 MB
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- File date:
- Jun 21, 2020
Suggested Bibliographic Citation
Bulletts, Angelita. ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW. Transcript of recorded Interview conducted by Paul Hirt, Arizona State University, and Jennifer Sweeney, Four East Historical Research, LLC, on 5 Feb 2020, at St. George, Utah. Edited by Paul Hirt and Jennifer Sweeney.