Reed Robinson spent the first 18 years of his life traveling abroad as the son of a diplomat. A second generation National Park Service employee, Robinson says he was attracted to the job because of his father’s work in the field and the security of the position.
But Robinson notes the real draw was at a much deeper level.
“There’s these laws and these policies and these organizations and agencies set in place to manage land,” Robinson explains. “Whereas, Indigenous people around the world…which I was a first-hand witness to and a member of…understand these values in a very innate way.”
It’s that natural understanding of the land within his genes combined with the National Park Service role of protecting the land which led Robinson into a career that’s spanned more than 2 decades.
After being stationed at locations like Fort Laramie National Historic Site and Devil’s Tower National Monument – known as Bear Lodge to the Lakota, Robinson is anxious to assist in management of the Badlands. He’s especially looking forward to increasing communication with tribal members as the centennial of the National Park Service approaches in 2016.
“You know, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service may not be the most important thing on a tribe that’s dealing with 80 percent unemployment,” Robinson observes. “But if it can be shown that maybe we can spend a little time being a part of this process…this anniversary and this celebration…to establish a benchmark in the future of this agency.”
Robinson hopes to expand tribal involvement in Badlands National Park by focusing on Lakota culture, heritage, history and youth engagement with a strong emphasis on learning from the original caretakers of this land.