Tribal Environmental Health
In a new initiative in 2013, the MIT CEHS COE2C reached out to Native Americans living in Maine, offering Center members the opportunity to listen to the environmental health concerns of the five tribal nations (the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, the Houlton Band of Maliseets, the Penobscot Indian Tribe, the Passamaquoddy at Indian Township and the Passamaquoddy at Pleasant Point).
From telephone conversations with tribal health and environment officers, the COE2C has learned that people are concerned about climate change, such as what effects it may have on those reliant on subsistence food gathering. Community members are also concerned about legacy pollution from previous military and industrial activities in Maine and its effect on the local drinking water quality. One pressing issue for example, is the upcoming occupancy by the Micmac Tribe of land that was formerly part of the Loring Air Force Base, a Superfund site. CEHS Director, Prof. John Essigmann has offered to meet with Elders in the Tribal Nations and with other community leaders to initiate discussions about these environmental concerns. A group from the CEHS will visit several locations in Maine in early August 2014 and will meet with Micmac, Maliseet and Penobscot health and environment officers. Additional conversations and visits are anticipated with other tribal communities later during this year.