By Ann Marie Chischilly, ITEP Executive Director

The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals recently co-hosted the National Tribal Forum on Air Quality with the National Tribal Air Association and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Our tribal host was the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi located in Battle Creek, Mich. The tribe was very generous by honoring us with their drum group, honor guard, a mini-powwow, two traditional meals, a tour of their homelands but most importantly, their genuine hospitality.

This was the 16th annual National Tribal Forum and it set a new record with over 220 attendees. Participants represented more than 100 tribes, the EPA and other government agencies, academics, environmental organizations and private industry.

In addition to discussing issues on indoor and outdoor air quality and climate change, it was good to spend time with the tight-knit community of tribal air professionals. There were opportunities for tribes to address high-level EPA officials about concerns and priorities. We also had top native environmentalists that challenged attendees to think outside the box to address problems in their communities. Their inspirational words lifted the spirits of many of the attendees.

The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals is a NAU-based institute that provides all federally recognized tribes requesting assistance with training, technical assistance and policy assistance in the areas of air quality, water quality, solid waste, climate change, educational outreach and sustainable energy.

Over the past 22 years, ITEP has trained and supported tribal professionals from 486 tribes including 184 Alaskan Native Villages. This represents 86 percent of all U.S. federally recognized tribes.

Because of our vision, mission and daily work, ITEP promotes NAU’s strategic goal of becoming one of the leading universities serving Native Americans.