#IAMIMSC: Pamela Miller
Duty title and unit: cultural resources media manager and Native American tribal specialist, Peterson Air Force Base Installation Management Support, Air Force Civil Engineer Center
Duty Station: Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
Primary duty responsibilities: I help four Air and Space Force bases, three Air Force stations and the U.S. Air Force Academy efficiently manage their cultural resources, historic built environment and Native American tribal site programs and areas of concern.
My duties include programing projects that guide archaeological and architectural inventories and updating each Installation Cultural Resources Management Plan. I also program projects related to Native American ethnographic studies and identification of properties of traditional, religious and cultural importance to 36 federally-recognized tribes with a cultural affiliation to the Front Range of Colorado and Wyoming.
Essentially, this means I help ensure historic buildings, archaeological sites and properties of traditional tribal importance are identified, evaluated and considered in all construction or ground-disturbing project planning, and are appropriately mitigated or protected as needed.
What’s the best part of your job?
I see my work as foundational. It allows me to research, document and educate others on information that may otherwise be lost to history. By investigating the past through archaeology, ethnography and architectural studies, I get to figure out the stories and put them into context, make them relevant and help bring about an understanding and recognition of how past events build on each other. Working to sustain all collective cultures, including the military culture, is the best way to ensure sustainable mission success!
Why are you and your job important to the Air Force and AFMC?
My work helps to ensure that each installation remains in compliance with numerous federal and state cultural resources and Native American laws and regulations. By identifying, evaluating and managing all types of cultural resources, we help direct planning activities to keep our national heritage alive and sites significant to our Tribal Nation partners protected. The key aspect of this work involves early coordination with base and other Air Force personnel to keep project timelines and budgets on track.
What’s a recent project that gave you a great sense of accomplishment?
I currently have the privilege of functioning as an Air Force cultural resources and tribal lead for a large, multi-year project that spans seven states, four Air Force Global Strike Command installations, many other state and federal agencies, one tribal reservation and more than 60 Native American tribes. The Air Force, like all federal entities, has a legal trust responsibility to consult with Tribal Nations on a government-to-government basis, which is traditionally done with face-to-face events. Initiating the consultation for this project during a pandemic with travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, closed offices, telework and being respectful of the additional problems tribes are managing, presented challenges and opportunities.
I’ve facilitated many tribal meetings in my career, but never virtually! However, once we figured out which protocols would work and which ones wouldn’t, as well as how to engage large numbers of people, present information in a clear and concise manner and allow everyone to have a voice, we’ve now successfully completed 16 virtual meetings and are planning several more.
Which AFIMSC priority do you most identify with – or see yourself and your job fitting into – and why?
Although what we do is an important part of the overall environmental review process for the Air Force, I’d have to say LOE 2: Strengthen Airmen and Families is the best fit for my job.
Airmen, families and the civilian workforce are strengthened when their history is preserved. Being able to provide a better understanding of the places where they live and work offers both a public benefit and a roadmap for future generations. When we understand what our society was built on, and how and why circumstances and technologies change, we are better able to understand what we are experiencing today; information is power. To fight well and strong, a force must understand what they are fighting for.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I work with an amazing team of professionals, without whom I could not be nearly as effective as I believe I am. The support we get from our leadership is tremendous and unsurpassed in the Air Force. This is where “leadership by example” lives!