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THPO wins ‘Tribal Story Map’ grand prize

BIG CYPRESS — The Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO) won the grand prize for the 2019 Tribal Story Map Contest at the Esri User Conference in San Diego in July.

Winners of the Tribal Story Map Challenge were announced at the conference, which was for users of geographic information systems (GIS).

Story maps combine the use of technology, maps, images and text to tell an interactive multimedia story of a place using the visual language of geography.

Lacee Cofer, THPO chief data analyst, created the winning story map titled A H.E.R.O. for Tribal Heritage. The Heritage and Environmental Resource Office (HERO) consists of THPO, the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and the Environmental Resource Management Department.

The story map highlights numerous environmental initiative projects recently done by HERO, which combined the three departments in the spring.

“We thought it would be a good way to do a collaborative project with all three departments,” Cofer said. “The ultimate goal is to have the story map available on iPads at community events so people can go through and learn about the environmental projects we are doing.”

Esri founder Jack Dangermond and Lacee Cofer at the 2019 Esri User Conference awards ceremony on July 10. (Courtesy photo)

Some of the projects highlighted include a tribalwide climate resiliency plan, protecting cultural and environmental resources and enhancing tribal sovereignty, the museum’s composting program, the use of native landscaping for the museum’s new restroom building, creating a sustainable office environment, creating bat boxes to shelter a more natural method of mosquito control instead of pesticides, using funds from the Restore Act to train Tribal youth for environmental data collection including water sampling, Egmont Key laser scanning and bringing lacrosse and stickball to the Big Cypress Reservation.

After the story map won the grand prize, it was displayed at the map gallery at the international conference, at which about 20,000 people attended.

“People thought it was really interesting and had questions about how we combine heritage and environment together,” Cofer said. “They were impressed that we were doing so many environmental projects.”

To view the story map, visit

The grand prize trophy. (Courtesy photo)
Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at