There are two levels of tribal involvement in Superfund decision-making: 1) Government- to- Government relations and 2) community participation. The fact sheet below helps address tribal community involvement during the public commenting period of the Superfund process.
Elem Pomo Tribe, TOSNAC SBMM Outreach Case 1998-2007
TOSNAC outreach related to the Sulphur Bank Mercury Mine (SBMM) Superfund Site was collaboratively developed under the directive of the Elem Pomo Tribal Council and Tribal Environmental Department. Written technical comments related to EPA documents were generated for Elem Pomo Environmental Department use. Community training materials were subsequently developed and distributed to Elem and other Lake County Pomo Tribal representatives through regional mercury and Superfund workshops at Clear Lake.
TOSNAC outreach related to the Midnite Mine (uranium mine) Superfund Site was collaboratively developed with leadership from the grass roots organization, S.H.A.W.L. Society of the Spokane Tribal Community. Two community workshops focused on the review of Superfund site assessment and cleanup documents. Educational material generated for outreach is preserved as a resource at the Spokane Tribal College library.
A major part of the TOSNAC effort involves assisting tribal communities to develop their capacity to address subsistence and cultural lifestyle exposure risks to contaminants. Beyond the scope of conventional risk assessment, defining cumulative risk and tribal exposures to contaminants involves examining a broader range of environmental factors, including those associated with consumption of safe water and food resources. The culturally responsive TOSNAC outreach framework honors the role of traditional ecological knowledge and promotes community-based risk assessment/ management achievements. This includes increasing the ability to effectively communicate technical aspects of risk so that other stakeholders (such as EPA or other federal and state agencies) can better understand tribal perspectives. Protection of subsistence and cultural lifestyle practices is encompassed within the realm of Environmental Justice (quality-of life rights, human rights and civil rights). These important aspects of tribal life are integral to sovereign rights of individual tribes, but also to the participatory rights of the people (community involvement in responsible environmental decision-making).
Brenda Brandon, TOSNAC Program Manager, participated in EPA and tribal efforts to help address risk assessment and management education needs within a diverse range of tribal communities dealing with a variety of environmental sites. These included sites affected by Superfund, brownfields, federal facility cleanup, and mine sites, as well as groundwater and pesticides management. She attended the first national tribal risk workshop, EPA Region 9 Tribal Risk Assessment Conference, Las Vegas, NV, Dec. 7-11, 1998. This meeting was open to the general tribal public and invited input about redefining EPA conventional risk assessment policy in order to account for tribal exposure concerns. Brenda also participated in the Agency for Toxic Substance Disease Registry (ATSDR) Expert Panel Meeting: Tribal Exposure to Metal Contaminants in Plants, Dec. 3-4, 2001. Panel proceedings and outreach materials are distributed through the HERS Center and incorporated into TOSNAC program. A summary report on this meeting is available below.
The training module material below was developed to demonstrate effective tribal outreach during a four-hour training session at EPA’s 2007 Community Involvement Training Conference, Jacksonville, FL, June19- 22, 2007.
Collaborators: Brenda Brandon, TOSNAC Program Manager (Haskell Indian Nations Univ.); Michael Fernandez, TOSC Program Manager (Oregon State Univ.); Kevin Mellott, TOSC Program Manager (Montana Tech Univ.); Dr. Sabine Martin, TAB Program Manager and Blase Leven, TOSC Program Manager (Kansas State Univ.)
Complex contaminant concerns associated with culturally sensitive issues often exacerbate mine cleanups. Because cleanup activities usually focus on the former active mine area, residents may have the perception that corrective action planned for other impacted areas will be limited or delayed. Tribal stakeholders involved in cultural and subsistence lifestyles in areas surrounding Superfund sites are especially concerned about the timeliness and completeness of cleanup, as their very existence may depend on it.
The training module above showcases outreach material and tools to help tribal communities and other stakeholders understand, communicate, and provide input about technical issues at Superfund sites. Content is primarily based on materials produced through a collaborative outreach process, coordinated by Brenda Brandon and delivered to the Spokane Tribal community. The outreach material encompasses a review of EPA Midnite Mine Superfund documents including Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessments, Remedial Investigation/ Feasibility Study, and cleanup plans. Presentations, educational materials and exercises help demonstrate a case example of how effective tribal community outreach employs strategies that encompass the following topics:
The learning module below was designed by Brenda Brandon, TOSNAC Program Manager, to empower environmental justice impacted tribal communities with information about environmental and human health risk assessment. It uses an approach that validates the importance of subsistence lifestyles and honors the role of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) in indigenous risk communication. The environmental justice (EJ) module provides successive levels of training material that tie together quality of life rights with technical information about subsistence and cultural lifestyle exposures that can be applied by tribal leaders, environmental professionals, and community members in addressing EJ concerns.
Haskell Students Meet With EPA Environmental Justice Officer (May 2007)
Brenda Brandon, TOSNAC Program Manager (Haskell Indian Nations Univ.), was a member of EPA’s National Environmental Justice Training Collaborative (EJTC) during 2001-2004. The EJTC curriculum was used internally to train EPA staff and managers, and externally to train other federal, state and local agencies, as well as non-government organizations. Brenda was initiated as an active member during the first EJTC workshop: EPA Region I, Environmental Justice Training Collaborative, Train the Trainer Workshop, Boston, MA, Nov.7-9, 2001. Brenda’s accomplishments revolving around the EJTC train-the-trainer work efforts include the following:
Additionally Brenda Brandon worked with Dr. Daniel Wildcat, HERS Center Director, to actualize technical assistance and outreach to the Haskell Indian Nations University community, the very community represented as the single tribal-related case study used during the national EJTC trainings. The EPA produced the “South Lawrence Trafficway/ Haskell Indian Nations University Case Study” that was used as a group exercise (one case in a series of four) to stimulate discussion about EJ policy and ways of addressing low income and minority population concerns. The use of the case analysis worked well as a short-study tool, taking into consideration complexities of multiple agency involvement and diverse tribal community needs in a real-life situation. Furthermore, the case example illustrated the value of trust relations and the responsibility of the general public and the lead agencies (both acting and non-participating parties). In this case the principal EJ issue represents the people’s relationships to Haskell University/ Institute and the Department of Interior trust lands - its past, present and future. See the TOSNAC Haskell Wetlands webpage to access publications about the community outreach process.
The following maps were generated by EPA Region 7 for use in national EJTC introductory environmental justice and train-the-trainer workshops, 2001- 2004. They were accompanied by written “South Lawrence Trafficway/ Haskell Indian Nations University Case Study” material, and presented as a class exercise. For information about the EJTC training material and HERS Center involvement, please contact Brenda Brandon at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com.
The Haskell Environmental Seminar Series (HESS) program was managed through the early years of the HERS Center under direction of Dr. George Godfrey (1996- 1999). The Environmental Justice (EJ) videos were generated to provide public education about tribal environmental issues and foster communication about addressing hazardous substance concerns. Wendy Griswold and Patterson Yazzie, HERS Center Program Managers, led the HESS project work, which included participation of 130 representatives from tribes, tribal colleges, tribal environmental programs, as well as Kansas Universities and EPA offices. Wendy and Patterson formulated the foundations for tribal EJ outreach that continues to be supported through the HERS Center today.
Note: Videos require Windows Media Player and a fast Internet connection.
TOSNAC received a request to provide technical input and training support for a software application that EPA Region 8 is developing for interested tribes, for brownfields redevelopment databases and mapping systems. The database will help Tribal Response Grant recipients meet survey/inventory, public participation, cleanup plans and verification, and oversight/enforcement requirements.
In fall of 2003 through the summer of 2004, the database was demonstrated at workshops held at Eagle Butte Reservation, South Dakota; Fort Belknap Reservation, Montana; Ute Mountain Ute Reservation in southeast Utah; and Turtle Mountain Chippewa, in North Dakota. TOSNAC has distributed numerous copies of the database to tribes and municipalities. TOSNAC is facilitating feedback from tribes in EPA Region 8 and providing training on how the database can be used with GIS systems. TOSNAC follows up with attendees to survey their satisfaction and ideas to improve the database.
Questions about the Tribal Brownfields Database Manager project can be directed to Blase Leven (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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Last modified August 15, 2013