HETF – August 2013
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has held Nation to Nation meetings every year for the past 17 years. These meetings are to bring all the Indigenous Nations of EPA’s Region 2 together to discuss important environmental issues and resolutions as well as talk about new and exciting environmental programs to protect our environment and to develop new programs for a sustainable future. Each year, this annual meeting is hosting by one of Region 2 Indigenous Nations and this year, Akwesasne had the pleasure of hosting this meeting.
Unlike other nations, Akwesasne has a unique geographical situation where the governments are recognized by the federal government as three different organizations, Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs which is the Traditional Council, the Canadian elective government, Mohawk Council of Akwesasne, and the American elective government known as the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. Although the outside governments recognize the three governments as such, Akwesasronon from each of the governments worked together to host the 17th annual Indian Nation Leadership Meeting. Each organization assisted with different events which resulted in a smooth event filled experience for the visiting nations and EPA. The annual meeting lasted from July 23rd until July 25th, 2013.
On Monday July 22nd, HETF staff and delegates began to arrive in Akwesasne in preparation for the annual meeting. Later on that night the nation members were able to enjoy a small BBQ followed by a Boat Tour of the St. Lawrence River and a little fishing.
The annual meeting began on Tuesday morning with Dave Arquette officially opening the day with the Ohenton Kariwatehkwen, giving thanks followed by introductions and Neil Patterson Jr. closing the day’s meeting in the Tuscarora language. The rest of the week went as planned during various environmental workshops and meetings which were held at the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino. There were employees from New York’s Regional office from the Environmental Protection Agency as well as employees of HETF from Tuscarora, Tonawanda Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Mohawk nations. Also in attendance were members of the Shinnecock nation and staff of the Seneca Nation of Indians.
While in Akwesasne, the visitors got to enjoy a little bit of culture when the Mohawk Nation Council of Chiefs hosted a community wide social after a traditional dinner which was catered at the Mohawk Nation Cook House. The HETF and MCA Environment assisted with a Boat Tour of the St. Lawrence and Grasse Rivers using boats from MCA Environment and HETF. There were also guided tours of Akwesasne and other environmental places of interest which were taken alternately during the boat tour which were provided by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe. The day of tours was pulled-off effortlessly with the combined resources of Akwesasne.
On the last day, a day-long meeting was held at the St. Regis Recreation Center located in the heart of Akwesasne. Edward Gray, Turtle Clan leader of the Mohawk Nation opened the meeting. There, everyone met together to summarize the first two days of meetings, and discuss topics that is of mutual interests such as Global Climate Change, Recycling and Hydrofracking bringing the annual meeting to a closing.