A Native American tribe in Oklahoma is poised to become the first tribe in the country to lead and manage the cleanup of a federal hazardous waste site.
The Quapaw Tribe is cleaning up a site where a Catholic church and boarding school that tribal members attended once stood. The land was later leased to various companies and mined for lead and zinc. When mining stopped, large piles of leftover mining waste were left behind. This caused health problems for residents.
The site is part of the Tar Creek Superfund Site, a 40-square-mile area that includes portions of Kansas and Missouri.
Tribal Chairman John Berrey says the cleanup means everything to tribal members because it’s their home and they want to make beneficial use of the property.