National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis announced that he has named Gerard Baker as assistant director for American Indian Relations. Baker was the superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.
“The National Park Service faces important cultural and natural resource issues with First Americans,” Jarvis said. “I’ve asked Gerard to represent me and the National Park Service with tribes across our country to work on issues I believe will further the goals of the National Park Service and goals of First Americans.”
A Mandan-Hidatsa from western North Dakota, Baker was the first Native American appointed superintendent of Mount Rushmore. He has been a park superintendent for 15 of his 30-plus years in the Park Service. He was assigned to Mount Rushmore in 2004 after serving as the first superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Baker brought an awareness of cultural diversity to Mount Rushmore and to tourism in the Black Hills in general. His commitment to sharing the Native American culture with others is evident in some of the changes he implemented at Mount Rushmore, including a Native American Heritage Village that is devoted to his culture and Native American’s place in history.
Baker is from Mandaree, N.D., on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. He is a graduate of Southern Oregon State University, Ashland, Oregon.