HERS: AN EXPANDING PROGRAM IN A SHRINKING WORLD
W.M. Griswold1, G.L. Godfrey1, S.C. Grant2, and J. Yazzie1
1Haskell Indian Nations University, Dept. of Natural and Social Sciences, 155 Indian Ave., Box 5001, Lawrence, KS 66046, (785) 749-8498: and 2Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center, Kansas State University, 101 Ward Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-2502, (785) 532-6519.
When the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center (HERS) was established in 1994, it was responsible for administering the Native American and Other Minority Institutions (NAOMI) program in conjunction with the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center (HSRC). Today, HERS is involved in myriad programs with several different organizations. In addition to continuing its close relationship with the HSRC, HERS has worked with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), the National Institute for Land Management and Training (NILMT) at Kansas State University, and the Technical Outreach Services for Communities Program. Partnerships have also been formed with several corporate entities including the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Stone & Webster Environmental Technology and Services, and Roy F. Weston. HERS has worked with these organizations and companies in striving to reach its goals of 1) increasing the level of involvement of Native American faculty and students in research and training relating to hazardous substances and other environmental issues; and 2) expanding the knowledge base of tribal environmental professionals. Programs and projects designed to achieve this goal include the Pesticide Technology Curriculum for Native Americans, the NAOMI Seminar Series, and ITEP's Air Quality Workshop.
Keywords: Native American, minority, research, technology transfer, hazardous substances
When it began in 1994, the first task of the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center (HERS) was to administer the Native American and Other Minority Institutions (NAOMI) Program in cooperation with the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center (HSRC). The goal of the NAOMI program is to increase the level of involvement of students and faculty at Native American educational institutions in hazardous substance research. Since 1994, the HERS Center has expanded its circle of partners and activities considerably. In addition to continuing its close relationship with the HSRC through the NAOMI and Technical Outreach Services for Communities (TOSC) Programs, HERS has worked with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) and the National Institute for Land Management and Training (NILMT). HERS has also formed relationships with corporations such as the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Stone & Webster Environmental and Technology Services, and Roy F. Weston.
Hazardous Substance Research Center
HERS has continued its close relationship with the HSRC. As a member of the HSRC Consortium, HERS and the Center for Hazardous Substance Research at Kansas State University will continue the NAOMI Seminar Series as the Haskell Indian Nations University Environmental Seminar Series. The seminar series began as one of the focus areas of the NAOMI Program. Its purpose is to provide public education on hazardous substances and related environmental issues and to facilitate communication between faculty and students at Native American and other minority institutions. Topics for the 1997-98 academic year include:
Pollution Prevention Opportunity Assessments (PPOA)-A demonstration video on how to conduct PPOAs using the HINU campus and community as an example of the process of assessing the opportunities for pollution prevention in Native American communities.
Environmental Enforcement and Justice in Tribal Law-A roundtable discussion centering on establishing environmental quality offices, and enforcing environmental laws and tribal court systems.
Environmental Management and Planning Systems for Tribal Economic Growth- A roundtable discussion involving issues of sustainable development and industrial ecology.
The Technology and Benefits of Microscale Chemistry-A demonstration video showing and discussing the application of chemical principles and apparatus at a scale much smaller than currently employed by most bench chemists to reduce the volume of reagents and products by several orders of magnitude. The purpose is to demonstrate that slight modifications in procedures and in what we use in manufacturing, farming, and processing operations can translate into significant reductions in hazardous substance by-products.
Through HERS, HINU has been involved with the HSRC's TOSC program since 1995. The mission of the TOSC program is to empower communities with an understanding of the underlying technical issues related to hazardous substance management so that they may participate substantively in the decision-making process. HINU faculty members, Michael Tosee (history instructor) and Bill Curtis (television production instructor), spent several weeks during the summers of 1995 and 1996 documenting the environmental concerns of several tribal nations throughout the U.S. Tosee and Curtis visited the Sokaogan Chippewa, Menominee, and Forest Band Potawatomi (Wisconsin); Hopi and Navajo (Arizona and New Mexico); Oglala Lakota (South Dakota); Kiowa (Oklahoma); Seminole (Florida); Couer d'Alene (Idaho); and the St. Regis Mohawk (New York). Interviews with tribal environmental officers, elders, and members and areas of environmental concern were documented on videotape. Footage from these site visits has been edited into video segments used by HERS during satellite broadcasts and video seminars for the NAOMI Seminar Series.
As a result of HERS and HINU's work with the TOSC program, HERS and the HSRC are developing a Technical Outreach Services for Native American Communities program (TOSNAC). The TOSNAC program will provide university educational resources to individuals, community groups, and environmental programs in tribal communities affected by hazardous substance contamination issues. Specific activities will be tailored to the needs of each tribal nation under an agreement between tribal representatives and TOSNAC personnel.
During the summer of 1997, Michael Tosee made follow-up visits to the Oglala Lakota Nation and the Navajo Nation. Tosee performed a needs assessment for the Oglala Lakota Nation which will be used to plan future TOSC and TOSNAC activities, and explored the possibility of a working relationship between the Navajo Nation's Abandoned Mine Lands Reclamation office and the proposed TOSNAC program.
National Institute of Land Management and Training
HERS, HINU, and the NILMT based at Kansas State University have begun work on a pesticide technology curriculum for Native Americans. The first components of the curriculum, funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, will be made available to American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) institutions as early as the spring of 1998.
The curriculum is focused on Indian Country and the prudent use of pesticides, in hopes of providing an awareness of the environmental problems caused by pesticides. The curriculum will be presented through a series of interactive videotaped and textual materials. The curriculum development team hopes the materials will provide an understanding of the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). The curriculum is intended to provide a means of reducing the impact of pests that negatively affect human health and agricultural, silvicultural and livestock husbandry, and production on tribal lands or through tribally-operated pest management programs. A means of protecting human and environmental health, including the protection of water and endangered species by minimizing pesticide usage, will also be provided. The curriculum offers an opportunity to incorporate Native American knowledge into pest management practices. It will also provide a vehicle for aiding in the training of qualified Native Americans to develop and implement tribal pesticide programs. The curriculum will be disseminated to AIHEC institutions and tribal environmental offices.
The relationship between HERS, HINU and the NILMT continues to grow. New projects and sources of funding are currently being sought to support these and other endeavors.
Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals
ITEP is based at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. ITEP provides assistance to tribes and other public and private groups in promoting effective environmental resource management on Native American lands. This assistance is provided through education, training, information services, intergovernmental relations, and environmental program development. ITEP is supported in part by a grant from the U.S. EPA through a partnership established in 1993.
ITEP developed and delivered "Introduction to Air Quality Management," a four-day training workshop that was hosted at HINU by HERS. Participants represented 17 tribes and most geographic areas within the U.S. The workshop is part of ITEP's American Indian Air Quality Training Program. The program seeks to fulfill the mandate of the 1990 Clean Air Act to offer Native American tribes full partnership in the management of air quality on tribal lands.
Boeing Commercial Airplane Group
HINU received a contract from Boeing Commercial Airplane Group to establish a research and summer internship program for HINU faculty and students. Students worked on providing Boeing's Safety, Health and Environmental Affairs (SHEA) office with statistical analysis of water and soil samples collected by SHEA. This project's goal was to show that real-life experiences in science lead Native American students to success in science, math, and engineering careers.
As a part of this project, two HINU students, Graham Snelding and Steve Brown, worked on-site at Boeing's SHEA office in Wichita, Kansas, for one month during the summer of 1996. The students spent their time engaged in various activities, including field work and data analysis. Throughout the 1996-7 academic year, three students were engaged in data analysis work on the project.
Roy F. Weston
Through the initiative of the Roy F. Weston firm, HERS has begun a working relationship with this company. As a result, HERS coordinated a one-month internship for HINU student Glen Tolle at a Roy F. Weston construction site in Louisville, Kentucky, during the summer of 1996.
Stone & Webster
HERS, through a partnership agreement with Stone & Webster Environmental Technology and Services, will be a subcontractor for a Total Environmental Restoration Contract (TERC) from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The award will fund remediation efforts on lands impacted by military operations within the Missouri River Basin.
HERS expects to begin participating in this project as early as August 1997. Involvement will include providing liaison services for tribal representatives and contractors performing remediation work at sites that impact tribal communities. HERS will also provide cultural awareness and sensitivity training for Foothills Engineering, another partner in the Stone & Webster TERC.
As HERS enters its fourth year of operation, it is apparent that it has been successful in establishing partnerships with organizations and corporations. These relationships serve to enhance the capabilities of HERS and are essential in achieving the program's stated goals.
Although this article has been funded in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement R-819653 through the Great Plains/Rocky Mountain Hazardous Substance Research Center headquartered at Kansas State University, it has not been subjected to the agency's peer and administrative review and therefore may not necessarily reflect the views of the agency, and no official endorsement should be inferred.