By Jennifer May
I recently tagged along on the EPA Regional Administrator’s first official visit to the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton, Long Island. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon! The RA and a few other EPA staff were visiting the nation because it recently got designated as a federally recognized nation. The Shinnecock have been awaiting this designation for over 30 years, and it is very significant because this new designation provides the basis for EPA to have a more formal relationship with the Shinnecocks. This is great news, making the Shinnecock is the most closely located tribe to New York City of the eight Indian Nations we work with in Region 2.
We met in the Shinnecock Community Center – a great big room that was nicely decorated. The Shinnecock Trustees, Tribal Council members and others joined us as we sat at large round tables and discussed environmental issues that the nation is facing. We were then treated with a tour of the nation. Throughout the visit, we discussed a range of issues from waste dumping to water draining problems to brown algae. With each issue raised, EPA had a whole bunch of suggestions to help improve these environmental challenges. It seemed very much like a brainstorming session – which existing EPA programs could be paired up with the environmental issues of the nation? More