EM Tribal Programs in Indian Country

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to the cleanup of sites that were once part of the nation's nuclear weapons complex.  Several of these sites are located close or adjacent to sovereign tribal nations and impact Indian lands and/or resources.  Consistent with the Department's American Indian and Alaska Natives Tribal Government Policy, the Office of Environmental Management maintains cooperative agreements with tribal nations to enhance their involvement in cleanup decisions while protecting relevant tribal rights and resources.

Members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, whose ancestral homelands include the 890 square miles containing the DOE's Idaho Site, share the spiritual and historical importance of the site to the Tribes in a cultural resources tour with employees.

Site Programs and Cooperative Agreements

Tribes are involved in pertinent cleanup decisions made by the EM program and site activities through cooperative agreements, agreements-in-principle and memoranda-of-understanding. These agreements allow the tribes to:

  • establish tribal environmental programs related to DOE sites and facilities;
  • hire tribal staff and scientific experts to inform tribal leaders on cleanup efforts;
  • examine cleanup plans at the sites;
  • provide comments on potential and known impacts of past, present and future cleanup work on tribal lands;
  • and preserve and protect tribal cultural resources; (e.g., artifacts, fish and wildlife, native plants and sacred sites)

Tribal environmental programs allow EM to benefit from tribal expertise by: performing environmental protection activities such as water, soil, and air monitoring; establishing transportation emergency response programs for tribes to be "first responders" for potential incidents on reservations and neighboring jurisdictions; and conducting cultural resource surveys, wildlife monitoring projects, archeological assessments and native plant re-vegetation in conjunction with DOE cleanup projects; and promoting educational initiatives that enhance cross-cultural understanding and student ability in the fields of mathematics and science.

Members of the State and Tribal Government Working Group and DOE representatives tour the West Valley site.
Members of the State and Tribal Government Working Group and DOE representatives tour the West Valley site.

State & Tribal Government Working Group (STGWG)

Established in the early 1990s, STGWG is composed of policy-level representatives from states and tribes that host DOE facilities or are otherwise impacted by activities at DOE facilities. STGWG helps ensure that DOE facilities and sites are operated and cleaned up in compliance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations, and tribal rights including those retained by treaty, and conferred by statute and the trust responsibility; as well as in a manner that protects human health, safety and the environment.

Managed by the National Conference of State Legislatures, STGWG's composition offers a unique perspective on issues such as long-term stewardship, tribal issues, transportation planning, nuclear waste and materials disposition, and deactivation and decommissioning activities.




Albert (Brandt) Petrasek
Tribal Program Manager
Phone: (202) 586-4818
E-Mail: Albert.Petrasek@em.doe.gov

Tribal News

Richland Operations Office Transfers Tribes’ Collection to Heritage Center
April 9, 2019
Richland Operations Office transferred 200 boxes of artifacts and records of importance to tribes in the northwest to the Wanapum Heritage Center.
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EM Expands Outreach to Tribal Business Community to Tap Expertise for Cleanup
April 9, 2019
EM officials met with representatives of tribal owned businesses during the recent Reservation Economic Summit (RES) 2019.
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Tribes Essential to Renewed Cleanup Focus, Assistant Secretary White Says at Summit
March 26, 2019
EM Assistant Secretary Anne White emphasized the invaluable role of American Indian tribes in a renewed focus on completing cleanup across the DOE.
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Under Secretary, Stakeholders View Idaho Site’s Innovative Cleanup Projects
July 3, 2018
DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar visited the Idaho National Laboratory Site last week.
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Idaho Contractor Encourages Native American Students to Consider EM Careers
May 22, 2018
Idaho Contractor Encourages Native American Students to Consider EM Careers
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EM Focuses on Business Opportunities with Indian Country
March 20, 2018
EM officials discussed business opportunities in the cleanup program and greater DOE at the National Reservation Economic Summit 2018.
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Hanford Dedicates Indigenous Restoration Area to Tribal Leaders
October 10, 2017
EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) recently dedicated the Indigenous Restoration Area at the HAMMER in honor of Tribal leaders.
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DOE Leaders Tour Hanford Cleanup Projects, Meet With Workers, Tribal Nations, Stakeholders
August 31, 2017
Energy Secretary Rick Perry & Deputy Secretary Dan Brouillette each visited the Hanford Site recently to view cleanup progress and meet with workers.
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DOE Officials Meet with Tribal Leadership at Four New Mexico Pueblos
August 17, 2017
DOE officials visited 4 Pueblos in NM to meet with Tribal leaders, demonstrating DOE’s commitment to government-to-government relations with Tribes.
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Tribal Elder With Close Ties to Hanford Receives Honorary Doctorate
June 15, 2017
Russell Jim, a Yakama Nation Tribal Elder has worked for years on behalf of tribal interests at the Hanford Site.
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