Barbara Sutter’s career in the the federal government totals thirty-two years. Seventeen years of her career were in Alaska, where she worked on the implementation of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act and the Alaska National Interest Land Claims Act. Her tenures include ten years each in the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Aviation Administration. In Alaska, she assisted individual Alaska Natives in acquiring their Native allotment and/or Townsite lots. Sutter was acting realty officer, acting rights protection officer, and acting superintendent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Juneau Area Office.
Sutter’s first assignment was Superintendent, Custer Battlefield National Monument. She assisted with legislation that changed the name to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument and authorized establishment of an Indian memorial. The Memorial’s significance is that it is the first time that the United States has recognized any Indian Warriors. The Indian Memorial was dedicated in 2003 with more than 3,000 visitors in attendance. Sutter’s final career assignment was the establishment of the Office of American Indian Trust Responsibility of the National Parks Service, Intermountain Region, in Denver. Her primary responsibility was liaison, working with Indian tribes whose use and occupancy of the lands predate the National Parks. Specific to the National Parks Service, she consulted with Indian tribes concerning the Wounded Knee Massacre Site, Devil’s Tower National Monument, Pipestone National Monument, and the Washita Battlefield National Monument.
In 1998, Congress mandated the National Parks Service to study the Sandy Creek Massacre Site in Southeast Colorado for inclusion in the National Parks System. Sutter wrote a Tribal Constitution Plan and assisted in gathering the oral histories of the descendent Cheyenne and Arapaho families. The descendents and the National Parks Service conducted archeological field surveys and collected and identified artifacts that substantiated the Indian Village site. Based upon the findings, Congress authorized the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site in 2001. Dedication was in 2007.