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Native American Heritage Month

DEC Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

This November, we observe Native American Heritage Month, a time to reflect on our relationships with our indigenous friends and neighbors here in New York.

New York's history and culture are intertwined with indigenous peoples' histories and cultures. We acknowledge that the land on which we live and work is their ancestral territory, including the nine state-recognized Indian Nations here in New York: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, Tonawanda Seneca, Tuscarora, Unkechaug, and Shinnecock. Indigenous people are not just part of our past. Many of us live and work with indigenous people, including here at DEC. As the original caretakers of Turtle Island-what we now call North America-indigenous people were, and continue to be, great stewards of the environment.

At DEC, we look to their example as we work to protect and conserve natural resources, ensure our lands and water are clean and our forests are healthy, and that our actions benefit rather than degrade our environment. Whether we are preventing or cleaning up pollution, managing our natural resources appropriately, or improving access for people to explore nature, we recognize our role in the environment and must ensure our actions reflect the sanctity of our natural resources.

DEC has a commissioner policy - CP-42 (PDF) - that describes how we interact with the nations on three broad issues: natural resources, cultural resources, and sustenance resources. As outlined in the policy, DEC staff in our Office of Environmental Justice consults with appropriate Indian Nation representatives on a government-to-government basis regarding matters affecting Indian Nation interests.

Meet Jordan Luzier

man in water holding large fish
DEC Fish Culturist Jordan Luzier of Chateaugay, N.Y.,
loves giving tours of the fish hatchery. He hopes to ignite
a love for the environment in adults and kids. He is a
member of Seneca nation and helped develop a
walleye hatchery on the Seneca Nation reservation.

Jordan David Luzier works at DEC as a Fish Culturist 1 in Chateaugay, New York. His duties include fish care and stocking fish across New York State. One of his favorite components of the job involves conducting tours at the fish hatchery for children and adults. It reminds him of the excitement he felt visiting a fish hatchery as a child, and his goal is to ignite a passion among youth for fishing and the environment.

Jordan has had many volunteer opportunities in the past, including an internship at the Carpenter Brook Fish Hatchery where he supervised a crew of work-release inmates in feeding, cleaning, and maintenance. This humbling experience laid the groundwork for his commitment and dedication to the workforce and his role at DEC. He also volunteered with a radio telemetry tracking program for paddlefish. This program studied 100 or more fish that had been tagged and returned to the Allegheny Reservoir. He used the radio telemetry to glean where the paddlefish were during different times. Jordan is passionate about this experience because he grew up spending many youthful hours on the Allegheny Reservoir doing all the things that define and bring him closer to nature.

As a proud Seneca, Jordan was also rewarded with the opportunity to volunteer in the development of a premier walleye hatchery on the Seneca Nation reservation. The hatchery has been up and running since 2010, supplying walleye stock for the Allegheny River. He hopes that in the future, his heritage as a Seneca and his job at DEC will allow him to utilize a unique combination of traditional environmental values with his education and experience to influence positive change and policies within DEC.

Jordan grew up in western New York and graduated with honors from Little Valley Central School in 1998. He also graduated with honors from SUNY Environmental Science & Forestry and is proud to call himself a "Stumpie."

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