Walt Lamar: Tribes are working to clean up their reservations

Walt Lamar on tribal efforts to clean up the environment:
The Redding Rancheria Tribe and the Hoopa Valley Tribe have engaged in massive cleanups of open dumps and waterways, removing about 45 tons of trash and recycling over a ton of metal. Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Leonard Masten recently took the bold step of banning old mobile homes from being brought onto the reservation, not only were they an eyesore but dangerous to the environment and tribal citizens. The Pinoleville Pomo Nation took another approach to cleanup, making toolsheds and greenhouses out of abandoned buildings, converting tires into ramps and creating planters for a community farm out of abandoned plumbing fixtures.

Tribal members at the Fort Independence Indian Community of Paiute Indians in California have reduced the total waste produced on their reservation by 26 percent through a community-recycling program that engages tribal youth and benefits youth programs. In addition to recycling paper, plastic, metal and glass, the program collects green waste for use as mulch in the Tribe’s community garden.

Twenty Nevada tribes are working together to develop recycling programs that generate revenue. While some tribes rely on grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for support with open dump cleanup, disposing of hazardous household waste, planning solid waste management plans, and building transfer stations, some tribes are achieving equally positive results on their own. Regardless of where the money comes from, the success of these programs depends on each individual to live up to the lessons of our elders by not littering or dumping illegally, cleaning up where we can, and by participating in whatever recycling programs are available.

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Walt Lamar: Cleaning Up the Environment, Starting With Reservations (Indian Country Today 5/4)

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