The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Dec. 15 signed a charter with seven Mid-Atlantic Federally Recognized Native American Tribes – each based in Virginia – at the inaugural Regional Tribal Operations Committee virtual meeting. The RTOC is a tribal and EPA partnership formed to assist in improving environmental conditions and tribal health.
Representatives from all the Virginia-based tribes were present: the Chickahominy Indian Tribe, the Chickahominy Indians Eastern Division, the Monacan Indian Nation, the Nansemond Indian Nation, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe, the Rappahannock Tribe and the Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe.
“Thanks to the RTOC formation, Tribes within Region 3 will now be represented on the national level, said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio. “For the first time in EPA history, all 10 Regions will be represented. Today’s meeting further shows our agency’s commitment to preserving this sacred land and educating others about its importance.”
During the meeting, Chickahominy Tribe Environmental Director Dana Adkins was elected chairman of the Region 3 RTOC. Jessica Phillips of the Chickahominy Tribe – Eastern Division was elected vice chair.
“I am honored to have been elected the first Chairperson of the Region 3 RTOC and look forward to collaborating with the other Region 3 Tribal Nations and the EPA on the important environmental matters that we all face,” said Adkins.
While Tuesday’s meeting was ceremonial in tone to mark the significance of the occasion, regular meetings will be held to allow the tribes to bring any issues or concerns to the EPA in a unified voice and for the EPA to provide updates on any environmental developments.
The first scheduled meeting with members of the RTOC will be next month. Tribes also will participate in ongoing workshops offered by the EPA Mid-Atlantic Region to continue the efforts that formalized by Tuesday’s agreement.