247661 A values-based approach to identifying disconnects between Tribal community values and water quality standards in the Pacific Northwest

Monday, October 31, 2011

Clarita Lefthand-Begay, MS , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Alison Scherer, MS , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Elaine M. Faustman, PhD DABT , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Native American communities in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) have thriving traditions that closely connect them to their homelands, foods (i.e., fish and shellfish) and cultural events (i.e., potlatches and canoe races) that depend on safe surface and marine waters. Microbial and chemical contaminated waters may threaten their cultural, spiritual, physical, and economic health. As Sovereign Nations, federally recognized Tribes can obtain authority under the USEPA's Clean Water Act (CWA) to administer their own water quality standards. We constructed Values Trees, and delineated goals associated with key values identified in the CWA as they relate to the process of setting water quality standards. The goal of the CWA is to “restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's water” and the Act calls for the eventual elimination of the discharge of pollutants into navigable water. Using this approach, we have noted disconnects between the specific goals and values of the CWA and Tribal lifestyles and cultural values. These disconnects may translate to the establishment of Tribal water quality standards that are not reflective or protective of Tribal lifestyles or cultural values. We have utilized a series of case studies within PNW Tribal Nations to better understand how tribal community members perceived water quality among their communities, document environmental values within each of these communities and analyze how the USEPA water quality standards in parallel with Tribal water quality standards address concerns of Tribal Nations. Tribal values that we have identified include community (shared food, water, etc.); family; time over which environmental impacts are assessed; and traditional stories that discuss place, events, and traditional ecological knowledge. This Values-Based approach allows us to consider how Tribal perception, knowledge and culture can inform water quality standards, and allows us to distinguish disconnects in water quality standards from environmental values.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss Tribal sovereignty in the Pacific Northwest and how it relates to water quality standards for Tribal Nations. 2. Describe environmental values of Tribal Nations in the Pacific Northwest. 3. Evaluate how these values can inform water quality standards in such a way that supports traditional life ways within these communities.

Keywords: Water, Native Americans

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Ph.D. student and the follow work is part of my dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.