Last week I signed the Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples, which clarifies how EPA works with federally and state recognized tribes, indigenous community-based grassroots organizations, and other indigenous peoples to address their environmental and public health concerns.
American Indian communities have been inextricably tied to the natural environment for generations. From cultural identify to sustenance, many of those unique traditions endure. That’s why I’m so excited about the six tribal environmental health research grants to tribal communities and universities that we recently announced.
EPA is proud to have a long and rich history of supporting environmental and public health protection for all communities. These EPA supported grants will increase our knowledge of the threats posed by climate change and indoor air pollution, while incorporating traditional ecological knowledge to reach culturally appropriate and acceptable adaptation strategies to address these threats.??There is a unique need for tribal-focused research to identify those climate-related impacts and to reduce associated health and ecological risks. EPA has been actively engaged in supporting such research, and I’m thrilled EPA is providing grants to further that work. The grants will support the study of the impacts of climate change and indoor air pollution on tribal health and way of life. Grantees include:
• The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium located in Anchorage, Alaska will be looking at ways to assess, monitor, and adapt to the threats of a changing climate to the sustainability of food and water in remote Alaska native villages.
• The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in La Conner, Washington will be examining coastal climate impacts to traditional foods, cultural sites, and tribal community health and well-being.
• Yurok Tribe in Klamath, California will be identifying, assessing, and adapting to climate change impacts to Yurok water and aquatic resources, food security and tribal health.
• Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency, Montana will research climate change adaptation and waterborne disease prevention on the Crow Reservation.
• The University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, will examine ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce environmental asthma triggers in tribal homes and schools.
• The University of Massachusetts-Amherst in Amherst, Massachusetts will measure indoor air quality in tents as related to wood smoke exposures and identify potential health risks in remote subsistence hunting communities in North America.
The health of our communities depends upon the health of our environment. These grants will help build prosperous and resilient tribal communities both now and for future generations. Like the enduring memories of my tour of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and tribal environmental program in North Dakota, they will have an impact long after my service as EPA Administrator.
Gina McCarthy currently serves as the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Reprinted with permission from Environmental Justice in Action: Blogging About Efforts to Achieve Environmental Justice in Overburdened Communities, a blog from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.