Recognizing the fragmented review processes of major external projects that were effecting Tribal Natural and Cultural Resources and Enterprises, Seminole Tribe Council established the Heritage and Environment Resources Office (HERO) to coordinate the complex review processes completed by the Tribal and Historic and Preservation Office (THPO) and Environmental Resource Management Departments by placing these Departments under the HERO umbrella. The staff of the HERO office under the direction of Dr. Paul Backhouse coordinates all State, Federal and Regional Review processes and coordinates and directs one concerted review and coordination effort for the Tribe. These reviews are directed by experienced scientists and policy experts to ensure consistent scientific position statements that provide informed scientific positions to Tribal Council.
Climate Resiliency Management
In December 2020, the Seminole Tribe of Florida launched a Climate Resiliency Program to understand and address the multiple risks climate change poses to the Tribe’s land, property, and people.
The program’s goals are:
The Seminole Tribe of Florida can become a leader in climate change planning for Tribal nations around the world, by promoting climate resiliency strategies that utilize both western-based science and traditional ecological knowledge. Together, we are protecting future generations, repairing a broken system of relationships, and healing the land and ecosystems we depend on.
The Community Engagement section of HERO is intent on promoting the following among the tribal community: mental health, physical health, cultural health, and unity. Our job is to engage with the community by talking with fellow tribal members and getting their feedback on programs that they want to see implemented. Some of the programs we have created include Rez Jamz, Suicide Awareness, the Strength Challenge, Movie Clubs, Vendor Days, and a Writers Guild. We are constantly looking for new ways to bring our tribe together, by holding various events and gatherings to show off our tribal culture. We are a proud people and want to continue to demonstrate to the world that the Seminoles are not gone. We are still thriving and finding ways to adapt to modern society while not compromising our cultural identity.
Federal and State Policy Consultations
Provides to Tribe over 40 years of combined experience in the areas of Federal and State Water Resource Policy, Environmental and Wildlife Regulatory Policy, and Federal/State Cultural and Historical Preservation Policy to the Tribe. This expertise working in concert with the Tribe’s Legal Office which helps the Tribe to direct the massive Federal and State Civil Works projects and 3rd party regulatory projects in a manner that is favorable to the Tribe.
Services to the Tribe include:
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) plays an integral role in the operations of the Tribe, in particular to those overseen by HERO. GIS allows for the creation, management, analysis, and mapping of data which ultimately lets us understand the patterns and relationships that exists over a geographic area. At HERO, our GIS Manager is responsible for preparing, maintaining, and provisioning geographic data and maps in support of the HERO’s mission. They also oversee all aspects of GIS development, implementation, and coordination across HERO departments, which include the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO), the Environmental Resources Management Department (ERMD), and the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. Developing geographic/geospatial solutions for the benefit of the Tribe as a whole is a goal that GIS Management at HERO strives for.
Off Reservation Consultation
HERO assists in the government-to-government consultation that occurs between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Federal agencies that wish to engage in off-reservation projects that could impact tribal lands. Government to government consultation occurs because to the unique status of tribes and tribal nations as separate sovereigns; U.S. Constitution art. 1 §.8 cl. 3. The Seminole Tribe of Florida is a federally recognized tribe that continues to exercise inherent sovereignty. Tribal sovereignty is the ability for a tribe to be self-governing, establishing tribes as governments as opposed to collective corporations. The consultation process meant to involve tribes in the decision making process, upholding the trust responsibility the Federal government has to tribes. The trust doctrine establishes that the Federal government is responsible and obligated to support tribal self-governance to protect and respect tribal sovereignty. HERO works to ensure tribal concerns are not disregarded during decision making processes.
The Project Management section of HERO is focused on the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s regulatory processes for any and all projects that occur on Tribal lands. The Project Manager is responsible for streamlining the permitting process by collaborating with Tribal Community Development and the Tribal Inspector’s Office on all ongoing and upcoming projects, while providing oversite for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office and the Environmental Resources Management Department. Having this single point of contact for the departments ensures that communication flows smoothly, and that departmental reviews are completed efficiently and effectively.
To-Pee-Kee-Ke Yak-Ne translates to “a place to gather” or “a gathering place.” The aptly named community center has a feel of a relative’s living room where conversation and a natural sharing of stories by Tribal Members can happen. The building provides an additional space on the reservation for birthday parties, cook outs, Tribal community and Council meetings, Museum staff meetings, and will be made available whenever the need to gather arises. There are gaming amenities which include pin ball machines, foosball tables, and two pool tables. The center also serves as a place to post Tribal and tourist announcements for events, programs, and other happenings.