ATSDR -- FY 1999 AGENCY PROFILE AND ANNUAL REPORT
Community involvement staff members also distribute fact sheets, press
releases, and notices about upcoming meetings to keep communities informed.
During FY 1999, copies of 225 different fact sheets and other materials were
distributed to approximately 40,000 community members and other
stakeholders. The increased use of community meetings that combine public
availability sessions with poster sessions has provided an especially effective
mode of information sharing. In these small group settings, community
members can learn about ATSDR's activities, while they wait to share their
health concerns individually with other ATSDR staff members. The
Community Involvement Branch conducted 150 meetings, which were
attended by about 4,400 community members.
Office of Tribal Affairs Established
In January 1999, ATSDR announced the establishment of an Office of
Tribal Affairs within the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation. The
office was established to better serve American Indian and Alaska Native
populations by providing a central, identifiable point of contact. The Office of
Tribal Affairs staff members are environmental health scientists with additional
training and experience in tribal policy and culture.
American Indian and Alaska Native communities and governments'
environmental public health needs are escalating. Many health concerns
related to exposures from environmental contamination are being identified.
The Office of Tribal Affairs staff members have begun to (1) provide cultural
training for agency staff members, (2) provide tribal-cultural and policy expert
assistance on site-specific projects (which may include direct technical
responses), and (3) develop needed interagency coordination to address
environmental health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native
populations. Concerns at sites that the Office of Tribal Affairs has addressed
drinking water issues of the St. Regis Mohawk tribe,
New England tribes' concerns about mercury in biota,
concerns about cancer incidence and environmental exposures at the
Alaska Native villages on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska, and
Oglala Sioux Reservation.
In addition, the Office of Tribal Affairs works with an ATSDR Ad Hoc
Tribal Workgroup to advise the agency on tribal programs and policies. The
workgroup provided input to the agency's Consultation and Coordination Policy
With Indian Tribal Governments, the Office of Tribal Affairs functional statement
and communication efforts to others in Indian country, and advice on the tribal
requests for an ATSDR National Tribal Forum on Environmental Health Needs.
The forum is intended to establish needed collaborations between American
Indian/Alaska Native governments and health departments, federal agencies,
and academia to address the massive environmental public health issues of
hundreds of tribal nations and thousands of native people.