Lauren Wenzel


 This report was furnished to the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency by  the student identified on the cover page, under a National
 Network for Environmental  Management  Studies fellowship.

 The contents are essentially as received from the author.  The
 opinions, findings, and  conclusions  expressed are those  of the  author
and not necessarily those of the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency.  Mention, if any, of company, process, or product names  is
not to  be  considered as an endorsement by the U.S. Environmental
tJjrff*i+^s++i s*±*+   A .».«*_ __.
Protection Agency.


         Environmental risks for American Indians are different than those experienced by

  the majority of Americans due to a variety of factors. Based on an eaiamination of

  population, health, economic, social and cultural characteristics, the following sources and

  impacts of such risks are described:                              !

         risks to health from poverty and unique exposure pathways, such as
         consumption of contaminated fish;

         risks to a land based economy, stemming from the economic impacts of
         environmental degradation to subsistence and natural resource based economies;

         risks from lack of environmental infrastructure due to inadequate tribal
        • resources, expertise, and planning mechanisms to deal with increasing pressure for
         economic development;                                        s^csawcior

         future risks to reservation environments, based on young and auicklv
         growing populations on a limited land base; and

         risks from nonlndian lands which impact reservations'.through cross-
         boundary air and water pollution, and through direct impacts on off-reservation
         S2.CTCCL SltCS.                                            '

        The paper argues that EPA's current methods for assessing risk are inappropriate '

 for Indian lands because (1) they represent a "snapshot" of a particular! point in time and do

 not capture cumulative or future risk; (2) they are population-based, and therefore tend to

 overlook the distribution of environmental risk, an issue central to environmental equity

 concerns; and (3) they focus primarily on health risks, and do not address the cultural and

 economic impacts of environmental damage on Indian tribes. The paper concludes that

 EPA should amend its risk analysis process to take these factors into account, and that
 tribes should be allocated additional resources to bring their environmental management

 capabilities up to the level of the states.
fr«™ *h" M »;   YT ~j-—/$-*"".' ""~": mcludes additional details and sources, is available
from the National Indian Coordinator, Office of Federal Activities, Environmental
Protection Agency Washington, B.C. 20460, or from the Natural Sciences Library
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, ME.                           i

"Like the miner's canary, the Indian marks the shifts from fresh air to
poison gas in our political atmosphere; and our treatment of Indians, even
more than our treatment of other minorities, reflects the rise and fall in
our democractic faith."

                             --Felix S. 'Cohen
                                    author, Handbook on Indian Law

                   CHAPTER  1.  INTRODUCTION

 Why a cultural approach to risk?
     Over the past decade, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has
 begun to adopt environmental risk as a framework for identifying and ranking
 problems that pose a danger to human health and the environment  While this
 scientific framework has proven generally effective in this task, it is incomplete.
 In recent years, activists and social scientists have voiced'concerns that racial
 minorities and poorer members of American society are shouldering a
 disproportionate amount of the environmental pollution generated by industries,
 agriculture, and cities (Bryant and Mohai, 1991).  Investigating these concerns
 requires a new approach towards risk, one that incorporates a local perspective;
 a focus on processes, as well as products; and on the differences berweeh one
 group of people and another.  The purpose of this paper is to ask how Native
 Americans  are different from the population at large, and jwhat these differences
 can tell us about environmental risks in Indian country.

 Why  Native  Americans?
   While disproportionate environmental impacts should be investigated for all
 groups at-risk, Native Americans have a unique cultural  and legal claim in
 U.S. history, and cannot be treated as simply one among many ethnic or
 socioeconomic groups.  Native Americans are the continent's original
inhabitants, having a history and a relationship with the larid dating back
thousands of years.   Despite the massive disruptions and [dislocations of the
past five centuries, Indian tribes remain, for the most part, :a people tied to the
land.  Relying upon a particular parcel of land for livelihood and community,
tribes have far more to lose from environmental degradation than the typical

 less-rooted urban American. Finally, tribes have a unique legal status, and are recognized as
 sovereign governments by the U.S. Congress and federal courts (Eberhard, 1990). This status
 is the foundation for the EPA Indian Policy, which states that the Agency will deal with tribes
 on a government to government basis, as it does with states.
    This paper highlights Important characteristics that make American Indians particularly
 vulnerable to certain health, ecological and economic risks from environmental degradation. It
 is hoped that raising these issues will assist in the development of a model for adapting the
 framework of comparative risk analysis to more equitably include racial or low-income groups
 that may experience different risks than the population at large. For reasons discussed below,
 the health and economic impacts of environmental risk are different for American Indians than
 for the general population. Moreover, American Indians may perceive risks differently from
 other groups, due to their cultural and historical experiences. Ecological risks are not
 considered here, because the impacts of a particular hazard on the environment remain the
 same, regardless of the population group affected. What may differ are the cultural, health,
 and economic impacts of that environmental degradation.
    Although ecological risks are not considered here, it should be noted that Native Americans
 occupy some of the most ecologically valuable land in the country, much of which is still
 largely untouched by environmental degradation. The development of tribal capabilities to
 manage these lands is critical for the minimization of ecological risk, and underlies many of the
 issues discussed in this paper.
•Federal  Indian Policy and Environmental Protection
    EPA is charged with implementing federal environmental laws by establishing national
 standards. The Agency may delegate the responsibility for managing programs to meet those
 standards to state, tribal and territorial governments. Before 1984, EPA's regulatory programs
 did not take into account the unique constitutional status of Indian lands (Price, 1983). In
 addition, most of EPA's authorizing legislation had no language addressing responsibility for

  environmental protection on Indian lands. As a result, while EPA fostered its partnership with
  the states, environmental protection on Indian lands often lagged behind.
     The low priority of environmental problems on Indian lands can be traced in part to the
  confusion over jurisdiction on Indian reservations. In laws'dating iback to the 18th century, the
  federal government has asserted itself as the primary authority ovet Indian tribes and tribal
  lands. In the "Doctrine of Discovery" cited in 1823, Chief Justice Marshall wrote that Indian
  tribes' "rights to complete sovereignty as independent nations, were necessarily diminished" by
  the "discovery" of tribes and their lands by European colonists (Johnson v. Mclntosh, 1823).
 However, Felix Cohen, the pre-eminent scholar of federal Indian law has noted that Indian
 tribes never relinquished their powers of self-government, and thai these powers are neither
 derived from nor controlled by the U.S. Constitution (cited in Wharton, 1989).
     The trust relationship existing today between Indian tribes and the federal government has
 its roots in the discovery doctrine and the explicit promises made tc tribes in many treaties.
 This trust relationship obligates the federal government to act in the1 tribes' interest when acting
 as a trustee for Indians and their lands. However, this responsibility coexists with Congress1
 plenary power over Indian tribes which is derived-fiom Article 1 (tfcle commerce clause) of the
 Constitution. This authority was exercised freely during the 19th and early 20th centuries,
 enabling Congress to repeatedly abrogate treaty agreements (Whartpn, 1989).  The tension
 between these two principles of the Federal-Indian relationship, representing federal obligation
 to and power over tribes, is still evident in many federal decisions today.
    Over time, administrative and judicial decisions have complicated the tribal-federal
 relationship by granting certain  rights to states, such as limited jurisciiction over certain
 reservations (Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, 1978).  Moreover, even when states have
 not made jurisdictional claims, few tribes possessed the resources arid training to fully exercise
 authority over the programs and problems on reservations.
    Another reason for the low priority of environmental issues on Indian lands has been that
most are located in rural areas, and have experienced relatively minor or localized
environmental problems compared to the states and their cities.  In recent years, however,

  increasing pressure to exploit energy resources and other natural resources on tribal lands has
  increased the potential for serious environmental problems.
     Beginning in the late 1960s, the federal government embarked on a policy to encourage and
  support Native'American efforts to become more self-sufficient While the implementation of
  this policy has been slow and irregular, the current EPA Indian policy is an outgrowth of this
  trend. EPA is the first federal agency to begin implementing President Reagan's Indian policy,
  published in January 1983. This policy states that:
  •   Federal activities will endeavor to foster self-determination and self-government amone
     Indian tabes; and                                                             &
  *   Indian tribes will be dealt with on a government to government basis.
     lii order to meet these goals, EPA has established a network of Indian Coordinators at the
 regional and national level. These coordinators enable EPA's regional and media offices to
 work directly with Indian tribes to offer the assistance tribes need. Activities of the Indian
 Work Group, located in the Office of Federal Activities at EPA, include working to amend
 EPA's environmental legislation to address tribal needs and administering grants to tribes for
 pollution assessment, control and prevention. ..In addition, the work group helps formulate and
 implement policies relating to environmental conditions in Indian country, generates pilot
 projects, and provides training and technical assistance to tribes.
 Environmental Conditions in Indian Country*
    There are 281 federal Indian reservations in the United States, covering approximately 54
 million acres, equal to the combined area of New England, New Jersey, and Maryland.  Lands
 on which Native Americans hold treaty rights to hunt, fish, graze livestock or gather
 foodstuffs, comprise an additional 100-125 million acres (Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1988).
 No comprehensive survey has been conducted of environmental conditions on Indian lands as
 a whole. Various more limited surveys, however, suggest that Indian reservations experience
rtd                 b3r.fcde?i.«Mute » 18 U-S'C- "51 «.an land within the limits of an Indian reservation.
all dependent Indian communities within the borders of the United States, and all (individually held) Indian allotments.

  a broad.range of problems including surface and groundwater contamination, improper

        *"                            '                    "!

  disposal of solid waste, human health risks stemming from uranium tailings and other

  hazardous Wastes, and unsafe levels of air pollution (Americans for Indian Opportunity, 1986).

     Environmental health problems are a concern on many'reservations. Water quality was

  cited by many tribes as the leading concern in a 1986 Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO)

  survey of environmental needs in Indian country. Of the 48 tribes responding, 65% depend

  solely upon groundwater for water supply; and 31% depend upon a combination of surface and

  groundwater. Tribes reported violations of EPA drinking water standards on 17 reservations,

  and outbreaks of waterbome disease on nine reservations. These problems are probably

  underreported because most individual water systems are not monitored.

     Waste disposal information for Indian country is anecdotal, and no comprehensive national

  data are available.  However, sewage and waste disposal were rated as major concerns in the

  1986 AIO needs assessment According to tribal reports, for example, 9,300 homes on

 Navajo lands and 10 percent of the homes on the Mississippi Cho'ctaw reservation lack

 sanitation facilities. In  1990, the Indian Health Service identified! 112,124 homes on Indian

 lands and Native Alaskan villages in need of piped indoor drinking water and 64,027 homes in

 need of sanitation facilities at a total cost of $495 million (IHS, 1990).

    Hazardous waste disposal is a growing concern to tribal governments. Nine of the sites on

 or proposed for the Superfund National Priorities List are on or ne|ar Indian lands:

 Commencement Bay, Washington; United Nuclear, New Mexico; Tar Creek, Oklahoma;

 Tucson Airport, Arizona; Celtor Chemical Works, California; FtJ Howard Paper Company,

 Wisconsin; General Motors Foundry, New York; Bunker Hill I&iho; andPrewitt Refinery,

 New Mexico (EPA, 1987; Topper, p.c. 1991).   In addition, a 1985 Council of Energy

 Resource Tribes (CERT) survey of active and inactive hazardous waste generator, storage, and  -

 disposal sites, found that a minimum of 65 hazardous waste disposal sites were located on the

25 reservations surveyed (CERT, 1985). In 1987, 18 of these sites were listed in CERCLIS,

EPA's inventory of potential hazardous waste sites to be assessed under Superfund (Senate

Select Committee on Indian Affairs, 1989). The CERT study combines active and inactive

 sites, the majority of which are probably not significant threats to human health.  BIA has
 identified 24 additional potential hazardous waste sites needing investigation on reservations
 not included in the CERT study (CERT, 1989).
Risk Assessment and Comparative Risk Analysis
    Over the past twenty years, environmental policy in the U.S. has evolved largely in a
piecemeal fashion in response to particular concerns. While this approach has successfully
reduced the threats posed by many environmental contaminants, the increased diversity,
complexity and scope of environmental problems the U.S. faces today demands a more
integrated approach.  In response to this challenge the EPA has identified environmental risk
as a concept enabling environmental managers to discuss and compare disparate problems in
common terms. By establishing a common measure, risk will help the agency to to order
environmental priorities and develop environmental protection strategies in a consistent and
systematic way (Reilly, 1991).
    Risk assessment is a method for establishing the health effects of suspected contaminants
by linking the dosage of a particular substance with an expected response. Central to EPA's
standard-setting process, risk assessment has been criticized for often relying on small or
unrepresentative sample sizes, making extrapolations from animal studies to human impacts;
and being unable to adequately predict long term health impacts. Moreover, the approach
results in minute probabilities that are often poorly understood by the public.
    Comparative risk analysis broadens the discussion of risk to try to address the various risks
people encounter in their daily lives. While risk assessment is purely health based,
comparative risk analysis aims to rank environmental hazards according to their health,
ecological and economic impacts, in order to effectively utilize limited agency resources.
Problems are ranked according to each of the health, ecological and economic criteria, but the
rankings in these three categories are not combined to derive a single score. As a result, a
particular hazard, such as airborne lead, may be ranked as having high health risks, but low

  ecological risks (EPA/OPPE, 1989).  Comparative risk analysis offers the advantages of
  addressing economic and ecological concerns as well as health risks, areas of critical concern
  that have often been neglected by EPA in the past. In addition, Ithe comparative risk analysis
  process, which involves gathering data from numerous perspectives and analyzing and ranking;
  them by expert consensus, offers the opportunity to build a more integrated and participatory
  approach to environmental management (EPA, 1990).
     These characteristics make comparative risk analysis a promising tool for examining
 environmental risk in Indian country.  However, the process remains limited by several of its
 basic assumptions. First, comparative risk analysis assumes risk at a single moment in time,
 rather than over a period of time.  Given the long latency period bf many environmental threats,
 and the dynamic nature of environmental processes, this assumption is an oversimplification of
 actual risk.  In addition, comparative risk analysis uses  the number of people affected as a
 central factor in weighing the importance of a given risk. This approach stems from the first
 recommendation of the Science Advisory Board's Reducing- Rislr, which states  that "EPA
 should target its environmental protection efforts on the  basis of opportunities for the greatest
 risk reduction (EPA, 1990)." As a result, comparative risk analysis consistently ranks the
 problems of low-density, rural areas - such as Indian reservations - as less important than
 those of densely populated urban areas, and overlooks the issue central to environmental
 equity: the distribution of environmental risk. Finally, because risk assessment focuses on
health-based indicators, it is not a useful tool for examining the ecological impacts of
environmental risk.


    According to the U.S. Census, there are two million American Indians in the United States
 today.  Forty-five percent of them live on or near reservations and trust lands. American
 Indians arc one of America's smallest minorities, comprising less than one percent of the U.S.
 population. Yet they are also among the fastest growing and most rural population groups in
 the country (HHS, 1984).
    ^Vhile population growth rates are high, outmigration rates, are relatively low for Indian
 tribes.  Although an increasing number of American Indians are moving to urban areas, many
 return to their reservations for economic or personal reasons (see Thornton, 1987).  If
 reservation populations continue to grow at current rates, pressure for development and the
 potential for environmental degradation will multiply.

      Although death rates for American Indians have declined substantially over the past 30
 years, when adjusted for age, they are still 12 percent higher than those for the white
 population (IHS, 1990). American Indians  can expect to live three years less than whites, with
 expectancy for females exceeding that of males by seven years. For American Indians, the
 largest causes of excess deaths* are accidental injuries, cirrhosis, homicide, suicide,
 pneumonia, and diabetes (HHS, 1984). Accident rates are more than double that of the general
 population, and chronic liver and cirrhosis rates are triple (IHS, 1990). By contrast, rates of
 heart disease and cancer — diseases of middle and old age — are relatively low. Based on these
 results, the
 the difference between expected deaths based on rates for the white population and observed deaths (in order of
greatest contribution)


   Poverty, unemployment, and underemployment are pervasive in Indian Country, and are
worst for Indians living on reservations. In 1986, the Bureau of ^Indian Affairs Task Force on
Economic Development found that the overall reservation unemployment rate was 58 percent,
compared to a rate for the entire U.S. population of 18 percent, sind for off-reservation Indians
of 26 percent  Similarly, the percent of reservation American Indians living below the poverty
level- 41 percent - was more than triple that for the general population (12 percent), and
nearly double that of off-reservation Indians (22 percent) (BIA, 1986).  Poverty is, of course,
also reflected in reservation living conditions, such as access to clean water and sanitation
discussed above. In addition, a 1980 survey found that over half of reservation Indian families
live in substandard housing, the majority of which was beyond repair (Taylor, cited in Snipp,

Economic  Development                                            '
    Economic development in Indian country usually revolves around land-based resources,
whether they be commodities, fish and wildlife, or tourism.  Agriculture - either through direct
production or leases to npnlndians — is also a major source of income, particularly in the Plains
    Fish and wildlife resources are major sources of revenue, particularly for tribes with
hunting and fishing treaty rights. Tribes along the Great Lakes, the Colombia River, and Puget
Sound have rights to commercial fisheries worth millions of dollars.  Throughout the U.S.,
tribes have established recreational and hunting enterprises, selHng hunting, fishing, and
                                                         I •
camping permits to nonlndian visitors. In 1986,72 tribes had established public fishing
programs, 61 tribes offered hunting programs, and 88 offered camping opportunities (BIA,
    For about an eighth of all tribes, particularly those in the Western U.S., resource extraction
 industries such as mining, oil and gas development, and timber are major sources of income.
 In 1981, Indian tribes earned $161 million in mineral revenues, and $73 million in timber

  revenue?. Earnings from agricultural leases came to only one third the revenues from mineral
  development (BIA, 1986).  Like other rural populations with natural resource based
  economies, Indian tribes are vulnerable to economic hardships due to fluctuating prices in
  recent years for agricultural products, oil, gas, minerals and timber. BIA studies have found
  that 85 percent of reservation Indians live in areas where natural resource development is not
  likely to become the mainstay of future economic development
     Commercial waste disposal is one alternative means of economic development being
  considered by many tribes - more than 40 have been approached by developers.  The
  environmental impacts of this alternative are potentially very significant, and underscore the
  need for establishing environmental regulatory structures within tribal governments.

 Subsistence  Economies
     Many Indian tribes depend directly upon natural resources for food and other subsistence
 products.  For tribes, environmental degradation can cause significant economic and cultural
 damage, as weU as having health and ecological impacts.  Most American Indians depend on
 varying combinations of subsistence resources, wages, and public assistance for their income.
 Tribes in the Northwest and Great Lakes region continue to utilize subsistence resources, while
 tribes in the Great Plains and Southwest are less dependent. For nearly all tribes, subsistence
 activities have changed with the introduction of new technologies, such as highpowered rifles,
 fiberglass boats, and snowmachines.
    Despite the vast social and technological changes of the past four centuries, and the
 diminished economic role of subsistence activities for many tribes, subsistence retains   '
 extremely important symbolic, social, and cultural, as well as economic value.  Observers and
participants have noted that subsistence activities foster a sense'of closeness to nature, self-
reliance, and independence, as well as cementing social and cultural ties through harvesting and
sharing of resources  (Muth and Glass, 1988).

  Social Characteristics
     When discussing American Indians and the environment, it is important to note that there
  are two distinctly different populations:  the 45% of Indians who live on reservations and in
  other rural settings.and the 55% who live in more urban erivirqnments.  Indians living in
  urban areas tend to have higher educational levels, and lower fertility than those living in rural
         *                                               i
  areas. Urban Indians are exposed to many of the same environmental pollutants as other
  urban minorities. Reservation Indians practice more traditional ways of Indian life and while
  they may not be exposed to pollution in the same way or degree as their urban counterparts,
  they are at risk of severe cultural and social disruption if pollution makes culturally significant
 portions of their tribal homelands uninhabitable.
    Due to historical disadvantages, poverty, and isolation, American Indians lag behind the
 national average in educational attainment  While 66.5 percent of Americans have graduated
 from high school, only 55.4 percent of Indians have done so. At higher educational levels, the
 disparity is more striking:  7A percent of American Indians have graduated from college, only
 half the national average (fflS, 1990). While American Indian tribes have made great strides in
 higher and professional education, many remain unable to fill their professional management
 needs with tribal members (Thornton, 1987).

 Risk  Perception and World View
    In their classic theory of risk perception, Douglas and Wildavsky argue that while risks are
 real, no perception of risk is completely objective, and all perception of risk is culturally
 influenced (Douglas and Wildavsky, 1982). Many empirical studies have supported the
 hypothesis that major differences in risk perception exist among 'individuals and groups.  While
 the differences between experts and nonexperts have been most extensively documented,
 differences between racial and ethnic groups have also been noted (Vaughn and Nordenstam,
 1991). Risk perception has been shown to be influenced by prior experiences and world
views, suggesting that individuals who share similar life experiences, attitudes and vaJues are
more likely to share similar evaluations of risk.

   The cultural theory described by Douglas and Wildavsky suggests that Native American
attitudes toward risk would be strongly influenced by then: experience. For all tribes, this
experience has been one of loss of sovereignty and cultural autonomy.  Traditionally, Native
Americans viewed themselves as part of the natural world, living in harmony with their
surroundings.  As Ward Churchill (1986), a Creek/Cherokee leader, puts it:
Unlike Europeans, Native Americans long ago achieved a profound intellectual
apprehension that human progress must be measured as an integral aspect of the natural
order  rather than as something apart from and superior to it Within this structure,
elaborated and perfected through oral tradition and codified as "law" in ceremonial and
ritual forms, the indigenous peoples of this hemisphere lived comfortably and in
harmony with the environment, the health of which-they recognized as an absolute
requirement for their continuing existence.
This emphasis on harmony and stability gave rise to many religious practices and social
conventions governing an individual's relationship to nature. Despite the enormous physical
and social dislocations of the past two centuries, many  tribes still adhere to their traditional
beliefs and practices concerning the environment
     American Indian tribes are extraordinarily diverse, and no single statement could sum up
 the differing attitudes toward environmental risk. Hpwever, many anthropologists have noted
 the differences between Indian and European attitudes toward nature.  Stated broadly, Indians
 traditionally view nature as an integrated, animate whole, while the European tradition (and the
 mainstream American society which stems from it) views nature as an inanimate source of
 resources for human use (Vecsey and Venables, 1980).
     Wildavsky and Dake (1990) note that while scientists and experts weigh risk quantitatively,
 the qualitative aspects of risk carry more weight with laypeople. This observation is clearly    •
 borne out by the experiences of Indian tribes with energy development A 1979 Study of
 Navajo Perceptions of the impact of'Environmental Changes Relating to Energy Resource
 Development found that:
 Shiprock residents feared loss of economic and emotional support of their extended
 family and kinship groups; loss of livestock and land; loss of self-sufficiency and
 security made possible by keeping livestock; and loss  of activities that support the
 inculcation of values such as sharing and mutual support in the extended family
 (Robbins, 1984).

 Despite .these strong feelings, such considerations are rarely capbred in the cultural and social
 impact assessments that accompany development.
     The experience of the three bands of Utes, who arc currently developing their oil and gas
 resources reveal something of Indian attitudes toward risk. 'The Utes are reluctantly permitting
 the development of their oil and gas resources out of a need for income, and a conviction  that
 these resources will be appropriated by outsiders if they are not'used. This latter assumption is
 based on over a century of losing battles with the federal, state and local governments over land
 ownership and water rights. As a result, although the Utes tend to be risk averse, they feel
 they have no choice but to permit development However, because the tribe lacks members
 with sufficient technical expertise to evaluate development proposals, its power is currently
 limited to saying "yes" or "no" (Romeo, 1985). As many risk perception studies have noted,
 control over risks is an important component of their acceptability to a community (see
    According to traditional Ute belief, nature is a source of power that can be acquired by
 shamans to benefit the community. Yet because secrecy is required in many sacred matters, the
 importance of the natural world to the Utes is poorly understood, by nonlndians.  Utes not
 only value sacred sites and burial grounds, but are deeply disturbed by threats to local plant and
 animal species, erosion, water pollution, and other forms of environmental degradation.  One
 member of the Ute Business Committee (in charge of overseeing! oil and gas development)
 commented that "taking oil out of the ground is like taking blood from the veins of a persons
 body." Another tribal member expressed more general concerns:: "You must maintain the
place - your place, where you live, and where the family has always been. The land, the
water, the game are sacred.  You must always have it, forever.  Not tear it up." Given these
beliefs, many Utes are deeply divided about oil development, and express strong concerns
about environmental and cultural impacts on future generations G^omeo, 1985)
    Similar divisions have been expressed by tribes considering, waste disposal facilities, and
other income generating activities with potentially serious environmental impacts. These mixed
feelings have often led to splits within tribes on controversial development projects (SCLDF,

1984). These disputes vividly illustrate that struggles for control over which risks to take may
divide'tribes as well as individuals.                                                •
    The case of development of Ute lands reveals the commonly expressed fear of loss of
control and sovereignty over the land and its resources. This fear of loss - grounded in
centuries of experience - may take many forms.  In Arizona, the Paiute tribal, government,
deeply in debt to the Internal Revenue Service, supported the-development of a hazardous
waste facility on trust lands partly out the the fear that the Bureau of Indian Affairs would take
control of tribal government if it was unable to discharge its debts.  In this case, the
environmental risks stemming from the incineration of hazardous wastes were judged to be less
of a threlt than the perceived threat of federal action (Austin, p.c. 1991).

      The unique characteristics of rural American Indians expose them to different types of
   environmental risks than those experienced by urban Americans whose risk, because of their
   large and concentrated populations, dominate national and regional risk comparisons. New
   methodologies must be developed to identify and quantify, where appropriate, the risks
   experienced by smaller, rural populations.  In many ways, therisks experienced by Indians are
   shared by rural dwellers throughout the country: groundwater; contamination, pesticide
  exposure, and nonpoint source pollution, to name a few. - In other cases, American Indians art;
  additionally  affected because of cultural or social characteristics, such as diet, subsistence
  lifestyle, or poverty.   In particular, American Indians face health risks from cultural practices
  or lack of infrastructure; economic risks to their land-based economies; risks stemming from
  the lack of environmental infrastructure; and future risks basedion high population growth rates
  on a limited land base.

  Health  Risks
    There are many problems in assessing environmental health risks for American Indians:
  small sample  sizes, unknown genetic factors, and numerous corifounding effects that make it
 difficult to show cause-effect relationships. These problems impede risk assessment under the
 best of circumstances, but are often compounded when looking at American Indian tribes.
 Among many American Indians, high rates of alcohol abuse, diabetes, obesity and other health
 problems must be distinguished from sources of morbidity and mortality caused by
 environmental conditions or contamination. Medical researchers! have noted that Native
 Americans, as compared to whites, have significantly lower rates for cancer of the lung, breast   -
 and colon, and higher rates for the gallbladder, kidney, and cervix, but that the relative
 contributions of heredity and environmental factors are difficult to assess (Sievers and Fisher,
 1983). In addition, the cultural and genetic heterogeneity of Indiikn tribes usually makes
extrapolations to Indians in general inappropriate.

    One environmental pathway that particularly affects many Native Americans is the
bioacc'umulation of pesticides and other chemicals in animal (particularly fish) tissue. Native
Africans are vulnerable for two reasons. First, some Indian tribes - particularly those in the
Pacific Northwest and'Great Lakes states - eat much more-fish than the average American,
thereby consuming more contaminants.  In addition, because of cultural practices, many Indian
tribes traditionally consume the entire fish, including fatty tissues where chemicals are most
concentrated. These differences have important policy implications. While EPA bases its
estimates of exposure to dioxin-contaminated fish on average consumption rates of 6.5
grams/day, Native Americans who rely on fish for subsistence may consume more than five to
ten times that amount (West, et al, 1990; EPA, Aug 1990).
    Tliese differences could have significant health implications. A 1986 study on pregnant
 women in Western Michigan showed that women eating approximately twelve fish meals
 during their entire pregnancy had babies with significantly lower birth weights than npn fish-
 eating mothers.  More importantly, a follow-up study in 1990 found that these same children at
 age  three had significantly reduced attention spans, an indicator of probable future learning
 disabilities (Jacobson, et al, 1990). These data highlight the importance of integrating health
 research with sociological and anthropological approaches to ensure that differences between
  groups exposed to environmental contaminants are understood, and that fish advisories and
  contaminant standards are set at appropriate levels.
      In addition to cultural differences, poverty itself is a factor in diminished health status.
  While there are no data showing mortality rates by race and socioeconomic class, the few
  studies available suggest a link between health and poverty. For example, in a 1986 survey,
  individuals making $ 10,000 or less a year reported significant health problems 4 to 6 times
  more often than those making over $35,000 (HHS, 1988). While most such studies have
  focused on the health differences between blacks and whites, those controlled for race indicate
  that poverty is  an important and often overlooked factor in the ethnology of increased morbidity
   and mortality.

Risks to a  Land-Based Economy                           ;

Roots in the Land

    American Indians living on reservations are land-based people, and the reservation remains

the focal point of cultural life for many urban Indians. These strong ties to their homelands

distinguish American Indians from the mobile, less-rooted majority of Americans. As a result,

the assumptions on which EPA bases its assessment of economic risks, based on the "typical"

(and therefore urban) American, may not be valid for American Indians. Certain types of

environmental damage, such as wildlife habitat loss or degradation, are likely to have a much

greater economic, psychological, and cultural impact on'the welfare of Native Americans than
                                                            . i

on the general population.

    In addition to being a land-based people, Indians are linked to a particular parcel of land

through the historical evolution of the reservation system. While most Americans have become

increasingly mobile over the past few decades, the Indians who live on reservations have either

chosen to remain within their community, or are too poor or culturally isolated to move


    The impacts of forced relocations of American Indians in the 19tli and 20th centuries

illustrate the cultural and economic impacts of being uprooted from their way of life. This

uprooting took place both directly, through warfare and forced resettlement, and indirectly,
                                                             j  »

through the loss of natural resources needed for subsistence, such asjthe buffalo. While the

former threat has largely subsided, the latter remains a serious concern.  Bound to the land by

history and culture, reservation Indians have been forced to either move away from the

reservation or change from their traditional methods of subsistence natural resource utilization

due to ecological degradation resulting from development and population growth. As such

they risk losing both culture and community.

    The tragic story of Grassy Narrows, Ontario is an example of the impacts of dislocation

and environmental degradation on Native Americans. In 1963, the Department of Indian

Affairs decided to relocate the people of Grassy Narrows to a new village five miles from the

old settlement in order to improve accessibility to social services. Seven years later, while the


   people were struggling to readjust and to put down new roots, the government discovered that
   the river which had formed the focal point of village life was poisoned by methyl mercury
   released by a nearby paper company. This contamination compounded the social impacts of
   the village relocation by removing the river and its resources from tribal use.
      Over the next decade, in the words of an observer who lived in the village for over two
  years, the village become "a case study in the causes -and symptoms of social disintegration."
  Alcohol and substance abuse rose dramatically, and child abuse and other symptoms of family
  stress became increasingly common.  To list one statistic among many, "between 1959-63, 91
  percent of all deaths in the community were due to natural causes. By the mid 1970s, only 23
  percent of deaths could be traced to old age, illness, or accident" (Shkilnyk, 1985).
     Today, with the economic importance of traditional subsistence practices declining among
  most American Indian tribes, the cultural importance of the reservations as centers of tribal
  identity has become primary. If reservations become unliveable, many Indians feel they will
  literally have no place to go. As one Navajo woman put it:
Some of the white peopl
out and moving away...
the same with us as it is
                             o my ouse an  tey ased me how I felt about selli
                            hem I wasn't interested in selling. I told them that it
                            ou have an old tree, and it is in your way. If there is
                            t up and move it, do you think it will continue to live
                                         new •romd for * do ^ou *** *«
 Similarly, during the recent debate over tribal management of a hazardo
 Mississippi Choctaw Odie Jim commented:
 What if something happens to the landfill, like a leak and damage and the tribe is sued
 and we lose the land? We, the old ones and the elderlies have to do Aerigklilng to
 tne young ones.  If they sue us and we have no money, they will take the whole
 reservation and the young ones will have nothing (Smothers, 1991).
 In Oklahoma, where activists argue that livestock deaths, birth defects, and mutated animals
 can be traced to the Sequoya Fuels nuclear reprocessing plant, Indians suffering radiation
health effects from the have refused to move out of the contaminated area which is their home.
The plant was finally shut down in 1991 (CCHW, 1991; Austin, p.c. ,1991).

.  Valuable Ecosystems

     If well managed, the rural landscape of Indian Country has enormous value for both

  Indians and nonlndians. First, much of Indian Country is still shielded from the some of the

  impacts of urbanization and industrialization and provides valuable, wildlife habitat and

  recreational opportunities.  Over 80 Indian reservations support threatened or endangered

  species, including the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and Florida panther (BIA, 1988). As

  urbanization and its impacts spread, Indian reservations have become important reservoirs of
  biological diversity. With proper environmental management, these lands could play an

  increasingly important role in wildland protection.-  In the Pacific Northwest, 20 member tribes

  of the .Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission are involved in a project to reduce nonpoint

  source pollution in order to protect marine life. In addition, the Swinomish tribe is taking steps

  to protect salmon and steelhead habitat from degradation (Topper, p.c., 1991).

     Similarly, Indian lands, with the exception of the Navajo reservation, are.not significant

  producers of air pollution.  These nonindustrialized areas "produce" health and environmental

  benefits in the form of clean air. In addition, the large tracts of forested areas remaining on

  many Indian lands in the Western U.S., though 'small in comparison with other federal lands,

  act as a carbon sink to help ameliorate the impacts of global warmiiig.

 Risks from Lack of Environmental  Infrastructure

     As noted earlier, environmental protection in Indian country lags behind that in other

 areas. During most of the 20th century, tribes were powerless at the national level, lacking the

 resources and training to develop governmental entities capable of making technical decisions.

 While environmental issues gained national importance in the 1960si, and led to the creation of

 the EPA in 1971, tribes were largely forgotten in the first decade of environmental law and

 regulation. EPA began establishing partnerships with the states to ensure environmental

 protection in the early 1970s, but did not adopt its first Indian policy until ten years later.

 Major environmental laws, such as CERCLA, the Safe Drinking Wziter Act, and the Clean

 Water Act were amended to address tribal  needs only in the mid-1980s. As a result, tribes


 have not received the attention and financial assistance that have enabled states to establish and
 operate environmental protection programs. At the same time, pressure for economic
 development on Indian lands is growing as developers seek out the undeveloped, often
 resource rich lands, and tribes seek ways of increasing employment and tribal income to
 support rapidly growing populations.
    At the community level, most Indian tribes have high unemployment rates and little or no
 tax base due to the lack of economic opportunities on reservations. Consequently, tribes are
 unable to fund extensive health and environmental services to their members. Tribal services
 such as waste pickup or water quality monitoring may be unaffordable, and tribal members
 must rely on limited services provided by the Indian Health Service.  In 1986, solid waste
 disposal was cited as a problem by 75% of the tribes responding to a survey by Americans for
 Indian Opportunity. On many Indian lands, landfills are located many miles from most
 residents, and collection services are limited by severe financial constraints.  As in many rural
 areas, user fees do not cover the costs of waste' collection, which must be financed by local
 authorities.  As a result of problems like these, illegal dumping is common in Indian country
 (AIO, 198^).  In addition, tribes find illegal dumping by outside residents and corporations
 difficult to control.
    In addition to lack of funds, tribal governments often lack staff trained in the environmental
 sciences and capable of making technical judgements.  This lack of expertise increases tribal
 risk from often unscrupulous outsiders seeking to take advantage of the reservations'
 remoteness, exemption from state laws, high unemployment and need for economic
 development. Within the past few years, over forty tribes have been approached by solid and
 hazardous waste companies seeking to site disposal facilities on tribal lands, which are not
 covered by state regulations (Topper, p.c. 1991). In South Dakota, for example, the Rosebud
 Sioux were approached with a proposal — ultimately rejected - to develop a 5760 acre solid
 waste landfill on the reservation capable of serving an area from the Colorado Rockies to the
Mississippi River (Miniclier, 1991). The project was initially approved by the tribal
government, which argued that the jobs and $2 minion  annual revenues were badly needed on

the reservation, where unemployment rates exceed 65 percent After much debate and

grassroots opposition, however, several members of the tribal council reversed their stands and

the project was rejected (Schneider, 1991). In October 1991, the M escalero Apache tribe in

New Mexico applied for a Department of Energy study grant to conduct a feasibility study for

storing nuclear waste on the reservation (Lippman, 10/21/91).

    While only a few solid or hazardous waste disposal projects are going forward, tribal

governments are often forced to make decisions about environmentally risky projects without

adequate information or expert advice.  Tribes desperate to provide employment opportunities

may also consider projects that would be rejected out-of-hand by wealthier communities.
    Tribes also face environmental risks from local, Indian-owned enterprises, which are often

ignorant of the environmental hazards they are creating.  On the Navajo reservation, for

example, a private company making electrical components for automobiles, owned by tribal

and nontribal members, dumped hazardous wastes in a local solid waste landfill near Leupp,

Arizona, unaware that it required special treatment. In another case on the Soboba Reservation

in California, a tribal member set up a business to reclaim contaminated soil from leaking
underground storage tanks by a land application process. Rains then washed the oil-

contaminated soil into nearby streams and creeks (Topper, p.c.,  1991).

    Finally, tribes without environmental expertise may lack the information to make sound
environmental choices about acquiring and managing lands.  In Bad River, Wisconsin, the

tribal government accepted the gift of a privately owned site on the reservation that had been

used by a paper and pulp company as a landfill. The site, which wels covered and seeded, is

now seeping methane, and is unusable for building. Moreover, the jtribe is now responsible

for taking steps to vent the site, and to ensure that it poses no serious hazards. In New

Mexico, the  Navajo tribe  bought lands owned by a local oil refinery Jin order to acquire the
rights to use the aquifer underneath, and acquired a Superfund site iks well (Topper, p.c.,


    Despite recognition of the importance of environmental management, tribes face  serious
dilemmas in deciding whether to apply for treatment as a staje under! the various federal laws.


For small tribes with limited resources, environmental management means diverting funds
from other essential programs.  Economies of scale argue against extensive environmental
pi-ngrams for small tribes. Yet without such programs, tribes face continuing dependence on
federal agencies, increased risk of environmental degradation, and an uncertain regulatory
environment which may discourage outside investment (Govin, 1987).

Future  Risks
    As noted earlier, the concept of environmental risk usually assesses risk for a particular
moment in time. This "snapshot" approach allows comparisons of a particular risk to different
individuals or groups, but does not express cumulative risk.  While this weakness of the
methodology applies to all population groups, it is particularly problematic for American
Indians.  First, as noted above, American Indians have strong cultural and historical ties to
their lands. Nearly one half of the American Indian population live on or near reservations, and
many urban Indians eventually return to settle in Indian country.  For many, being Indian
means living, or having the option of living, on the reservation.  Secondly, American Indian
religions see life as a circle encompassing all living-things: past, present and future. The
Iroquois statement that leaders should consider the impact of any action of the seventh
generation illustrates the importance of future generations, not as an abstract principle, but as a
guide to everyday .action.

Population Trends
    The history of the American Indian population trends illustrates the devastating impact of
European settlement on native peoples. While the population of North America before
Columbus is much disputed, many historians estimate that there were between two and five
million inhabitants of the continent (not including Mexico) in 1492, and some suggest the
figure could be as high as 18 million (Snipp, 1989). During the first century of contact with
Europeans, tribal populations were decimated by exposure to Old World diseases to which they
had no resistance.  These highly infectious disease includettsmallpox, diphtheria, cholera,

 influenza, typhoid, measles, and scarlet fever. Populations continued to decline due to disease,

 displacement, and warfare for the next 300 years.

    The American Indian population reached its nadir between 1890 and 1900, when there

 were an estimated 250,000 Indians (Thornton, 1987).  Since then, it has climbed steadily,

 reaching nearly two million by 1990.  Today, American Indians have among the highest

 population growth rates in the U.S. In 1980, the American Indian birthrate for reservation

 states was 26.7 per 1,000, nearly double that of the general population (Thornton, 1987).

 Moreover, American Indian women living on or near reservations had more children on

 average (3.2) than their urban counterparts (2.59) (US Census, cited in Snipp, 1989).  While

 the reasons for these high birth rates are debated, their impact has been unmistakable.

 American Indian populations more than doubled between 1970 and 1990, and grew by 43.4
 percent between  1980 and 1990, compared to a growth of 9.8 percentlfor the total U.S.

 population (US Census Bureau, 1991).*      .                                  .

 Population Projections

    The American Indian population is young, with a median age of 23.4, compared to 31.3

 for the  total U.S. population (Snipps,  1989).  For Indians, 32 percent|of the population is

 younger than 15, and only 5 percent is older than 65. By contrast, the;corresponding figures

 for the  total U.S.  population are 23 percent and 11 percent (IHS, 1990). This difference in age

 structure means that more Indian women are in or entering their childbearing years than the

 general population, and that American Indian fertility will remain higher as a result.

    Differing estimates of future fertility have created a wide range of population projections.

 Yet all  are based on two factors suggesting rapid growth: current high fertility rates and a

 young age structure.  Based on current population trends, the U.S. Office of Technology
  A       •
  An uncertain proportion of this growth is due to changes in ethnic identity, that is, increasing numbers of people
identifying themselves as American Indian. For the 1980 Census, tribal governments, Indian organizations, and the
Census Bureau made unprecedented efforts to encourage American Indians to identify themselves as such. This is no
doubt partly responsible for the 72.4 percent "increase" in population over 1970 (Snipp, 1989). The same
phenomenon contributed to the growth of the American Indian population between 1980 and 1990.

Assessment has predicted that the populations of Indians residing within reservation states will
increase to 2.21 million by the year 2000, and to 3.7 million by 2020 (OTA, 1986). These
figures - like U.S. Census data - include all people who self-identify themselves as American
    How will this enormous growth in American Indian populations affect the reservations and
trust lands? Some growth will be absorbed by migration to urban areas. Between 1940 and
1980, the American Indian population shifted from one that was 92.8 percent rural, to one that
was 49 percent rural.  (Over the same period, the overall rural U.S. population shrank from
43.5 to 26.3 percent [U.S. Census, 1991]). As a result of this trend, the proportion of Native
Americans living on reservations .and trust lands has slowly declined, from 252 percent in
1980, to 22.3 percent in 1990.
    Although the relative proportion of Indians living on reservations and trust lands has
shrunk, in absolute terms, reservation populations continue to grow. The total number of
Indians living on reservations and trust lands grew by 18 percent between 1980 and 1990,
from 370,101 to 436,909 (U.S. Census, 1990). The rapid population growth of the Navajo
tribe - the largest in the U.S. - over the past forty years provides one model of the impacts of
rapid population growth. The Navajo population grew from approximately 65,000 in 1950 to
 over 175,000 in 1985, an increase of 170 percent (Thornton, 1987). One of the impacts  of this
 rapid growth has been a corresponding growth in the number of grazing animals, resulting in
 widespread rangeland degradation (Stoffle, 1987).
    Future reservation populations can be estimated from the Office of Technology Assessment
 predictions. If 2.21 million Indians will reside in reservation states in 2000, based on current
 population distribution patterns, about half - 1.1 million people - will reside on or near
 reservations.  By the year 2020, if the same assumptions hold, 1.75 million Indians will  live
 on or near reservations. In addition to the pressure these numbers will place on the resource
 base,  the age structure of Indian tribes will create a high dependency ratio, with more very
 young and old depending upon each tribal member of working age. This dependency will
 create additional pressure for economic development on reservations.

  Risks  from Nonlndian Lands
     Boundary effects between Indian and nonlndian lands - such as air pollution, downstream
  effects, and grouhdwater contamination - require coordination between tribal and state or local
  officials that is often lacking. Such problems usually stem from economic activities such as
  mining and logging, and illustrate the component of environmental risk analysis that must be
  prospective in order to assess the impacts of development. Tribes in. the Northwest, for
  example, have expressed concerns about state and federal activities affecting fish populations
 .and water quality in the region. This year, the Shoshone-Bannock tribe set the endangered
  species review process in motion by petitioning the US Fish and Wildlife  Service to consider
 listing the Pacific salmon. In one generation, the fish have dwindled from the thousands to
 numbers too small for the tribes annual religious ceremony (Egan, 1991).
     The Shoshone-Bannock were also involved in a more dramatic confrontation .over
 environmental risk when tribal police refused to allow a truck carrying spent nuclear fuel to
 drive across the reservation to the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. Although a Federal
 District judge ordered the tribe to let the truck through, the incident illustrates the ways in
 which tribes are seeking to establish control over the risk rxsrmitted within their boundaries
 (Schneider, 10/17/91). In turn, nonlndians located near reservations considering the
 establishment of commercial' waste disposal facilities on tribal lands have expressed strong
 opposition, based on the potential environmental impact
    The protection of sacred sites located off of tribal lands is a unique problem within the
 context of risk analysis.  In such cases, tribes face major threats to spiritually and culturally
 important sites that they are often powerless to control.  Many tribes have lost important
 spiritual and cultural sites to development projects, including the Cherokee, who fought the
 flooding of burial sites by the Tellico Dam, and the Yorok, Karok and Tolowa Indians of
 California, who opposed the construction of a U.S. Forest ServiceJRoad through religious
 sites (Lyng v. NW Cemetery Protective Association, 1988).  In 1990, several shrines sacred to
the Hopi were destroyed when  a privately owned butte 50 miles from the reservation was

 leased for gravel mining. The mining incident, which commenced before a state-required
 environmental impact statement was completed, suggests the inadequate implementation of
 current cultural preservation policies, as well as the relatively trivial ends for which sacred sites
 are often lost (NYT1/3/91).  Current disputes include the Havasupai effort to prevent the
 uranium mining of their sacred mountain, Red Butte, and the Southern Paiute and Western
 Shoshone opposition to the proposed use of Yucca Mountain, Nevada as a high level nuclear
 storage facility.
    In 1968, then-Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall testified in favor of the Taos Pueblo  .
 Indians who were seeking the return of holy land including Blue Lake, an area sought by the
 state for tourism development and timber. Udall noted the cultural gulf between. Indians and
 nonlndians on the subject of religion.

 Because of the essential secrecy of its religion, it has been difficult for the Pueblo to
 explain in terms satisfactory to the American mind why it must own and control the
 entire watershed of the Rio Pueblo... [but] to .insist that the Indians disclose more is to
 ask them to defame their holy mysteries ... It would be a tragic misunderstanding of the
 Indian's religious use of the area as involving only occasional use of a few sacred
 precincts (quoted in Cahn, 1969).
 Similar misunderstandings continue to present a challenge to addressing Indian religious
 concerns through the EIS process.
   Prospective environmental risk — risk that is being considered, but has not yet been
 assumed — can be managed through the environmental impact assessment process mandated by
 the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and NEPA-like state laws. Yet this process
 has often proven subject to political constraints in the past, with the result that Native American
 concerns are often dismissed  (Geisler, et al, 1982). In 1978, for example, the EIS prepared by
 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the uranium mining of White Mesa in Southeast Utah
failed in 170 pages to mention the Ute reservation three miles away; nonetheless it was
approved (Jorgensen, 1984).  Since then, the EIS process has become more inclusive, and
tribes have become more sophisticated in making their concerns heard. If tribes are given the
opportunity to participate meaningfully, the EIS process can be an appropriate means to
rmmmfor. prospective cultural, economic, and environmental risks in Indian country.
                            26          .            •

                           CHAPTER 4.  CONCLUSION

     Diverse as the hundreds of American Indian tribes arc, they share characteristics that

 distinguish them from the ILS. population at large. These characteristics - based on unique

 cultural and historical experiences - give American Indians a distinctly different pattern of  '

 exposure to environmental risk.

     First, American Indians tribes are tied to a particular parcel of land, both culturally and

                                                            i .

 economically. This land is the center of tribal identity, and is critical for political, cultural and

 economic survival.  As a result, the potential impacts of environmental degradation or disaster

 are enormous.

     Second, most Indian tribes lack an adequate environmental infrastructure on which to base

 sound environmental management decisions. Over the past twenty years, while the EPA

 established partnerships with the states.-tribes were underserved due to legal uncertainties and

 political powerlessness.   While EPA's Indian Policy has established the necessary framework

 for creating a strong tribal-EPA partnerships, tribes still often lack'the infrastructure, resources

 and expertise to sustainably manage their lands.

    This vulnerability is all the more critical when the risk profile fir American Indians is

 extended out into the future. Tribes are among the fastest growing populations groups in the

 U.S., a trend that will place additional pressures on limited reservation resources"  Already,

 tribes face endemic poverty and severe unemployment, and are investigating a variety of


 options to increase employment and income on reservations. All of these options - from oil

 and gas development, to tourism, to waste disposal - will have environmental impacts that will

require planning and management As the pressure to pursue these ^development paths

increases, will tribes have the resources to address the problems they bring? Unless EPA

makes significant changes, the answer to this question will be "no."  •

      In its Indian Policy Statement, EPA identified the strategy for meeting these challenges:
  building tribal capacity for environmental management. How can this goal be met? Significant
  steps toward it are already being taken.  Since 1984, nearly all the major environmental laws
  have been amended to allow tribes to apply for treatment as a state, and to assume
  responsibility for the implementation of environmental regulatory programs. The agency has
 « provided media specific grants, technical assistance, and training.  Yet more progress is
  needed. The two recommendations described below point to actions that can be taken at the
  national level to support the efforts of tribal governments to reduce environmental risk.

  Provide a'dditional resnmcfts.  As noted earlier, federal environmental partnerships with the
  states were established with the birth of EPA in 1971, while EPA's Indian Policy, laying the
  foundation for a similar partnership with tribes, was not articulated until 1984.  As a result,
  tribes have not received the resources that have enabled states to establish environmental
 infrastructures.  Between fiscal years 1985 and 1990, EPA granted a total of $25.9 million in
 direct assistance to all Indian tribes.  By contrast, three states comparable in geographic area
 and population to the total of all Indian reservations - Idaho, North Dakota, and South Dakota
 - received three to four times that amount Most of this disparity can be accounted for by'
 construction grants for wastcwater treatment (approximately three-fourths of the funding
 received by the three states), which are granted on a population weighted basis that favor cities
 over rural areas. However, when these grants are subtracted, the three states still received an
 average of 50 percent more than the tribes over this five year period. For earlier periods, of
 course, tribes received far less federal environmental funding.
    Recently, in response to the historical inequity of funding for Indian programs  and the
 increasing evidence of environmental problems in Indian country, EPA began a multi-media
 grant program to enable tribes to complete environmental assessments of their reservation
 environments, to target critical environmental problems, and to enhance their environmental
management programs.  Support for this program, which is intended to run for several years,

is critical for helping to raise tribal environmental infrastructure toward the level attained by the
states.           .

Modify the risk analysis process.  Many of the conceptual issues raised here are not addressed
in EPA's comparative risk process for three major reasons. First, comparative risk aims to
evaluate a "snapshot" of environmental risks at a particular time, rather than examining risk
over a period of rime, or the historical reasons for such conditions.  A broader perspective on
the factors that put an individual or group at risk is needed.
    Secondly, EPA's risk assessment process relies upon populatibn exposure as a major
factor_in ranking risks, resulting in a bias against rural areas with low population density, such
as Indian reservations.  While the size of the affected population i's undeniably important, it is
a crude tool best supplemented by more detailed analysis.  Uranium mining, for example, is a
tiny threat to the well being of most Americans, but a significant environmental problem in
Indian country. If environmental equity concerns are to be met, the breadth of environmental
impacts must be weighed against their severity so that the variable distribution of environmental
impacts can be assessed
    Finally, in its current form, comparative risk is heavily dependent upon health and
economic assumptions, and does not address cultural considerations such as diet, subsistence
lifestyle, or the religious view many tribes have of the natural environment. Methodologies
must be developed to account for the differences between culturally unique groups and the .
population at large.
    A final obstacle to the application of comparative risk analysis on Indian lands may be tribal
resistance to the Western approach of prioritizing problems. Stoffle and Evans (1990) have
documented the tension between a holistic approach to conservation with what they term
"cultural triage" in preserving sacred off-reservation lands. Indians, seeing their environments
as an integrated whole, are often reluctant to argue that one part is less essential than another.
As the Owens Valley Paiute Tribal Chair commented during a meeting on the proposed high-
level radioactive waste facility at Yucca Mountain, NV:

  Incfcaii people say, "What's more important; the earth that we stand on, the air that we
  breath, or the water that we drink?" They all have their reason to be here and that is
  what we have to get over to the United States Supreme Court We are nothing  but to
  put it all together it forms a circle. And we all have to live together no matter what,
. because it's our earth. These things are here, we didn't put them here, so who are we
  to move them. We didn't create them, but we are here to protect them (Stoffle and
  Evans,  1990).
  If comparative risk is to be promoted as a planning tool in Indian country, tribes may need to
  adapt both the framework and the process to reflect their perspective on environmental
     Despite these problems, the participatory nature of comparative risk analysis offers a
  promising new approach toward environmental management. By explicitly involving tribal
  members in discussions about risk, comparative risk analysis may offer a means to integrate
  traditional, consensus-based decision making with urgently needed decisions regarding tribal
  environmental principles, practices and procedures.  Such consensus is critical if disputes over
  future development projects are to be effectively resolved.

  EPA's Role in Building Tribal Environmental Management Capacity
    The recommendations described above meet a variety of Agency interests and obligations.
 First, like every federal agency, the EPA has an obligation to act as a trustee in its relationship
 with Indian tribes. This legal and moral obligation, conferred upon the government through a
 series of treaties and agreements, requires the agency to act in the tribes' best interest in
 sustainably managing their lands for future generations.   Although the concept of trusteeship
has been attacked as paternalistic by many, including Native American activists, its intent can
be read as ultimately achieving the opposite.  If the "best interest" of each tribe can be
determined only by that tribe, then capacity building is the truest fulfillment of the federal trust
    Of course, EPA's self interest would also be served by strong environmental management
at the tribal level  Just as strong enforcement and environmental planning  at the state level
have enabled the Agency to address an increasing range of environmental issues, strong tribal

 environmental agencies will ease the agency's enforcement burden.; On the contrary, if tribes

 are unable to develop their environmental infrastructure to manage envelopment in Indian

 country, future enforcement problems will multiply. Moreover, enforcement actions in Indian
 country are particularly problematic. Ironically, fines simply divert funds from tribal coffers -

 where they are desperately needed ~ to federal ones, where they can no longer be used for

 tribal environmental protection. As a.result, tribes are punished for ^adequate environmental

 protection by reducing their ability to protect their environments.

    Finally, enhancing environmental protection in Indian country serves to correct a historic

 imbalance. Tribes, like states, are sovereign entities, responsible for the health and well being

 of their members. Yet through the past two decades of environmental protection, tribes have

 been denied a fair share of the available resources, and have been unable to adequately protect

 their environments as a result.  EPA's commitment to building tribal capacity for

environmental management is a major step toward a more equitable and sustainable
                                                            i       •      *•
environmental future.


  Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO). 1986. Survey of America^ Indian
  ?^At'?'??dPalll^oh.ai'Kis- 1991' Proceedings of the Michigan Conference on Race
  and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards, University of Michigan, AmAAor

  2Ta^SJian^?il5(BIA)'FlshWildlife'aIldRecrcation Program. 1988  Tribal
  Hsh, Wildhfe, and Outdoor Recreation Resource Programs, 1986. BU, wi'hirSran,

                                                           m=ric, New

                                              Nadve Ethic *-" Resoura

 Qtizens Clearinghouse on Hazardous Wastes. 1991.  Everyone's Backyard, v, 9, no. 6

 Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT). March 1989.  Review of Indian Tribal
 Environmental Projects Under the Category C Program:  1985-89 Report to US
 Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.              P

 Council of Energy Resource Tribes (CERT). 1985.  Inventory of Hazardous Waste
                                                Report of the Seoetary'sTask
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 1988. Health, United States 1987

                                Tribal Leaders Workshop, Washin     D.C.,



                                 ™a Pap=r **"*•  Unpunished paper. EPA,
  Indian Health Service (IHS).  1990. Trends in Indian Health, j ffiS, Rockville, MD.
               h L-' JaC°bson' Sandra W., and Harold Humphrey January 1990

  Lyng v. Northwest Indian Cemetery 'Protective Association. 108 S. a 1319. '(1988)
  sS"De"n™Lpoim ^«* -* Garbage: Rosebud StouL Battle D^ on Native

 New York Tunes, 1/3/91.  "After Mining, A Furor Over A Shriae."
 Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). 1986. Indian Health! Care.  Washington, D C
 feffly, William K. 1991.  "Why I Pro^ . Nadonal ^^ OD| K^
                                                                Ethics of the

                                       1*1 S°- ^ics," Healfl, and
Schneider, Keith, 10/17/91. "Idaho Tribe Stops Nuclear Waste W," Ncw York Tunes.
Schneider, Paul. July/August 1991. "Other People's Trash,


                 ia. 1985. A Poison Stronger than Love. Yale University Press, New

                          *-  1983'  C^cer « North American Indians-
             vs. Heredity.  American Journal of Public Health, v. 73, no. 5
 f £2* 40J/9L ^ ^^ " Mnd' Choctaw's R*ct Plan ^ Landfill," New York

                       - A««i«il«ltaa,: The First of this Land. RusseHSage
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