Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, Hiring a Genealogist

The NGS website announced this week an opening at the Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, for a genealogist in the Washington DC vicinity.  Let’s hope that whoever they hire also understands, and I mean really understands, DNA testing – as they assuredly will be bombarded with questions about how DNA testing pertains to Native people and their descendants.

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DNA testing has the potential to be beneficial to applicants in the process of requesting federal recognition.  DNA testing and those results are now a permanent part of the genealogy landscape.  Let’s hope that the new BIA genealogist knows how to utilize them properly when evaluating genealogy.

This looks like a really good career opportunity for someone.  Is that someone you?



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8 thoughts on “Department of Interior, Indian Affairs, Hiring a Genealogist

  1. Roberta, You are probably the most well rounded genetic genealogist with practical Native American experience and qualifications to do this job. When are you moving to Washington, DC? LOL

  2. It may take more than just one person understanding the current science. They likely will also have to be able to convince layers of management which is often the most difficult part.

  3. Roberta, I just spoke with the Assistant to Kevin Washburn, Deputy Director , and we had quite a long conversation. about The DNA subject , their viewpoint is viable, as it stands. Since the invention of the latest DNA testing, they have been bombarded with calls and inquiries regarding tribal affiliation. The largest problem as they see it with no Rolls participation or lineage verification, DNA is a small part of the picture(According to their stance). There is no DNA for each tribe and the slot to insert us into is very narrow. Most folks (Not All) have a small amount of verifiable native lineage and or DNA to source from. They do understand the direct lineage, via ancestry and proven research. The largest problem is most folks didn’t keep real up to date records. She also told me to contact the Office of Federal Acknowledgement, through their Human Resources department to offer opinion in the job description. They will have to change the synopsis/job description to show genealogist/with genome tracing ect…

  4. Hi Roberta,

    Under the Indian Act. passed in 1876 in Canada, DNA does not play a major role re tribal association. The Indian Act is the driving vehicle and a very complicated piece of legislation. The objective was to eliminate the First Nation. So its hard to get into any details. A percentage of Carded Status Indian would have european MTDNA European. They may or may not live in a reserve or be a band member. The Non Status, Inuit and Metis are protected under the constitution but have no rights under the indian act.. DNA is a great tool and hope government don’t start dictating and labelling people. Here is a link re the Indian Act.

  5. I hate to be cynical, but just about anybody who has worked for the federal government can tell you that many (maybe most) job opening announcements like this are tailor made — that is, written with a specific person in mind. So in my opinion, the office that has this opening didn’t just decide “out of the blue” that they needed a GS-13 genealogist.

    More likely, they already have a GS-12 doing similar work, and they want to get him or her a promotion to GS-13. But first, they need to go thru the formality of a public posting. Believe me, I’ve seen it time and time again. So don’t get your hopes up too much.

  6. Hi Roberta, I worked with the BIA for a while, and would stress that any genealogists applying for this need to be seriously skilled, comfortable with lots of cold calling, and preferably Spanish-speaking as well. A talented heir searcher with multi-cultural experience would be a good fit. They also need to be detail-oriented as they’ll have to log every phone call, and be prepared for court testimony. I greatly enjoyed the work – and the folks at the BIA couldn’t be nicer (truly some of the most professional and warm people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with) – but I’m glad to see that they’re looking for a full-time employee because they’re going to need to be dedicated exclusively to this. It’s all-consuming, so I eventually stepped aside because I couldn’t manage it along with my other work.

  7. I hear that they have reopened the position after not attracting applicants with enough experience. The listing seems to be open to current or federal employees only. With that level of restriction, I can imagine that many well-qualified applicants can’t apply in the first place.

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