Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP)
In 1992, Congress passed the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act (42 U.S.C. 4368b) which authorizes EPA to provide General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to federally recognized tribes and tribal consortia for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian county, as well as for developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands.
The goal of this program is to assist tribes in developing the capacity to manage their own environmental protection program and to develop and implement solid and hazardous waste programs in accordance with individual tribal needs and applicable federal laws and regulations.
Through our GAP grant we maintain an environmental presence for the Tribe prioritizing participation in EPA programs, recycling, safety, environmental protection, and community outreach.
As part of our work the Tribe currently serves as the Tribal Co-Chair on EPA Region 6’s Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) and Deputy Environmental Director, Tabitha Langston, serves as a representative from EPA Region 6 to EPA Headquarters’ National Tribal Caucus.
The Environmental Department provides recycling trailers for the general public to use, located at Ottawa Tribal Headquarters, Adawe Travel Plaza, and Nine Tribes Tower. We partner with the Modoc Tribe’s Red Cedar Recycling for hauling and sorting of recyclables.
More information on Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP):
More information on EPA Region 6’s Tribal Program and the Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC):
More information on EPA’s Tribal Program and the National Tribal Caucus (NTC);
Clean Water Act Section 106
The Water Quality Grant helps us monitor surface waters within the Ottawa reservation . The Environmental Department collects and analyzes water samples from six water sites on a monthly basis. Two sites are located on the Neosho River, one site on Tar Creek, one site on Little Elm Creek, and two sites on Spring River. The data is used to assess the quality of water and determine if the water bodies meet their designated uses. We monitor for basic parameters such as, temperature, pH, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, total nitrogen, and total phosphorus. We also monitor for lead, cadmium, zinc, iron, and arsenic in water and sediments. All data is then entered into EPA’s national database.
In addition, the program is designed to protect human health through bacteria analysis. We sample for E. Coli and Enterococcus bacteria twice a week in the summer months. When bacteria counts are too high, we post swimming advisories on our FaceBook page and throughout the tribal complex. These warnings help protect tribal members and the general public from health risks associated with bacterial illness.
More information on the Clean Water Act Section 106:
Tar Creek Superfund Site
The Environmental Department works to ensure that the interest of the Ottawa Tribe and the protection of human health and the environment within the Ottawa reservation are addressed in all matters regarding the Tar Creek Superfund Site.
The Department ensures tribal participation, review, and input in the planning and development of remedial activities, investigation, and documentation related to the Tar Creek Superfund Site, including all Operable Units and the watershed, to protect tribal human health and the environment. Activities include review and comment on the myriad of documents and data that EPA generates and to retain specialized contract technical and legal expertise, as necessary, to support the Tribe’s engagement in the remedial process at the Site.
Additionally, the Department provides technical management assistance to the following tribes that are impacted by the Tar Creek Superfund Site: Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, and the Wyandotte Nation.
More information on the Tar Creek Superfund Site:
Tar Creek Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR)
Over the past 20 years, the Tar Creek Trustee Council has worked together to develop claims for injuries to natural resources from hazardous substances at the Tar Creek Superfund Site. This Trustee Council is the largest in the country with representatives from the State of Oklahoma, Department of Interior (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs), and seven federally-recognized tribes (Cherokee Nation, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, Seneca-Cayuga Nation and Wyandotte Nation). The seven tribes form the Tar Creek Trustee Council Indian Tribes (TCTCIT). The Ottawa Tribe, through the Environmental Department, serves as the Lead Administrative and Financial Tribe for the TCTCIT. As such the Environmental Department acts as the central point of contact and manages funds received by the group.
The seven tribes (TCTCIT) were instrumental in the development and selection of multiple restoration projects in the Tar Creek Phase I Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment (RP/EA). The Phase I RP/EA selected six restoration projects that will replace the natural resources lost from the contamination.
One unique project proposed by all seven tribes is the Tribal Apprenticeship Program. Injuries to the natural resources at the Tar Creek site have impacted tribal lifeways. The tribes have lost opportunities to transfer their cultural knowledge on gathering, harvesting, hunting, fishing, preparing, and using these resources across generations. There has also been a loss of traditional ecological knowledge about caring for the land, and traditional practices to sustain it for future generations.
The Tribal Apprenticeship Program will combine teaching tribal youth about their individual tribe’s distinct heritage, language, cultural practices, and traditional uses with natural resource restoration. The Program will include distinct tribal lifeway practices curriculum and the traditional uses of natural resources specific to each tribe. Upon completion of the program, each student will receive a State of Oklahoma lifetime combination hunting and fishing license, which will enable graduates to continue to practice their tribe’s traditional activities after the program ends.