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EPA awards nearly $660,000 in Environmental Funding to Federally Recognized Indian Tribes in Virginia

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PHILADELPHIA – (Nov. 27, 2020) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today awards of nearly $660,000 to federally recognized Indian Tribes in Virginia as part of the Tribal Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP).

The announcement coincides with Native American Heritage Day.  Five Mid-Atlantic Region federally recognized tribes received their first GAP Grants of approximately $110,000 each for 2020. The Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Nation, Rappahannock Tribe and Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe were awarded GAP Grant funds to assist in environmental capacity building. The Chickahominy Indian Tribe, in their second year of GAP Grant funding, received approximately $110,000 to continue to develop their environmental department.

Each year tribes are eligible to submit applications for the non-competitive GAP grants, but there is no requirement for tribes to apply for the assistance. The Pamunkey Indian Tribe received GAP Grant funds in 2018 and 2019.

“We are glad to provide these funds to the tribal nations within the Mid-Atlantic region to protect the environment and educate the surrounding community to the land’s importance,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “The EPA is committed to working with the tribes. Tribes across the nation have been able to use these grants since 1993 to provide recycling, clean water and air programs. We are excited to see what is ahead for the seven tribes within our region.”  

“This grant will enable the Upper Mattaponi Tribe to prepare and establish a much-needed protection plan for an environment that our tribe has cherished for many generations,” said W. Frank Adams, Chief Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. “These funds will offer us the opportunity to protect our environment moving forward and to hopefully provide better awareness of environmental issues to our tribal citizens as well as other people that live, work and do business in or near our tribal territories.”

EPA funding assists tribes in building environmental capacity. The recipient tribes will use these funds to establish their own tribal environmental departments. The Departments will sponsor community events, develop environmental plans and establish priorities. The tribes will also use these funds to raise tribal awareness about environmental concerns and to improve environmental conditions.

Specifically, the tribes will work toward these objectives by:

  • Conducting environmental outreach and education with the tribal communities through community meetings and events;
  • Developing and adopting an EPA/Tribal Environmental Plans to begin assessing the tribe’s environmental priorities and goals in coordination with EPA;
  • Establishing the Tribe’s Environmental Departments, enabling staff to maintain a professional environmental presence by attending environmental trainings and meetings to further their environmental education.

The EPA continues to engage with the tribal communities within the Mid-Atlantic Region. The EPA and the seven Federally Recognized Indian Tribes have worked together to constitute a Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) – a tribal and EPA partnership to assist regional tribal environmental objectives and public health programs and to improve tribal health and environmental conditions.

Next month, the groups will hold an inaugural Mid-Atlantic RTOC meeting and sign a historic charter which outlines the structure, roles and rules of the agreement. In addition, the RTOC will conduct regular meetings with the Tribes providing information regarding resources and training opportunities. All the tribes have representation on the RTOC.

In January 2018, the U.S. government recognized the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Nation, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Rappahannock Tribe and Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe through the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2018. All these tribes are in Virginia.

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