ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Lynne Dominy, chief of interpretation and education here, recently returned from a four-month assignment as acting superintendent of Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in Montana.
“It was a privilege to go there and have that opportunity,” she said. “It’s nice to be in a decision-making situation, but it’s even better to be in a situation where you’re empowering everyone who works for you to reach the highest level of their skills and to help them become decision-makers and learn how to work together as a team.”
Dominy, who has been at Acadia for seven years, started her National Park Service (NPS) career at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, where, she said, “I decided I was going to be a park ranger for the rest of my life.”
She then became a supervisor at Grand Canyon, the second-most-visited national park, where she managed “a huge staff in a complex park.”
From there, she went to Point Reyes National Seashore in California and then to Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, where she worked for 10 years before coming to Acadia.
Her temporary assignment at Little Bighorn Battlefield came as a result of the federal government’s hiring freeze. The previous superintendent there was leaving, and the NPS needed someone to be in charge until the new, permanent superintendent could be recruited.
Dominy said four months isn’t much time to get things done, so it is especially important that the fill-in person’s skills and experience match the needs of the particular park.
“I have worked with a lot with Native American nations, and they have very complicated relations [at Little Bighorn],” she said. “They asked me to come and do tribal consultation and make recommendations, as well as recommendations for the incoming superintendent about how to be more effective and efficient and prioritize the needs of the staff and the public.
“It gave me an opportunity to step out of my role here and into a completely different setting … and to tackle things that needed to be resolved right away to enable that park to move forward. I’m flexible; I love learning; I loved being there.”
Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument had about 332,000 visitors last year.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn, which the national monument commemorates, was fought in June 1876. Warriors from several northern Plains Indian tribes defeated the U.S. 7th Cavalry commanded by Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed along with more than 250 of his men. The national monument includes an Indian Memorial and Custer National Cemetery, where about 5,000 U.S. military veterans are buried.
Preserving and understanding the importance of such places and events is essential, Dominy said, because there are “so many legacies that can be lost, so many stories that need to be told so we don’t forget about them.”
“It’s always an honor to work as a trustee for the American people in these places that are so beautiful and so important.”