Gerard Baker, a native of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and a longtime National Park Service official, has been named assistant director for American Indian relations.
Baker will fill the role for National Park Service director Jon Jarvis, who said Baker will help the agency manage cultural and natural resource issues between the agency and American Indians.
“I’ve asked (Baker) to take this position because with his skills and contacts, I believe we’ll come to resolution on these issues,” Jarvis said.
Baker has been with the park service for more than 30 years, half of those as park superintendent. For the past six years, he’s been superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Park, in the Black Hills.
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Jarvis said Baker will begin his assignment April 24 and keep an office in South Dakota.
Baker is a widely recognizable figure in Indian Country for his work as a mediator and facilitator. He’s also a familiar face on American history television programs and was a consultant and on-camera historian in the 1997 Ken Burns film “Lewis and Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery.” He also appears in a recent production by Burns titled “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”
Baker said the new post will be a natural extension of his work.
“This really is a natural next step in my career, and it’s what I’ve been doing all of my life: learning about people, our history and culture, talking to others, sharing stories and learning to appreciate other perspectives,” he said.
Baker began his National Park Service career in 1979 as a park technician at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton, and in 1994, he was named superintendent of Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, Crow Agency, Mont.