Tribal Solid Waste Advisory Network
In 1997, ten tribes from the plateau region of the interior Pacific Northwest formed the Inland Empire Tribal Solid Waste Advisory Network (TSWAN) to collectively explore innovative waste management techniques and advocate responsible solid waste management for all Native Americans. This consortium of tribal solid waste professionals provides for greater visibility and collaboration, and by acting together, member tribes have strengthened their voices in environmental management issues and increased their opportunities for securing funds needed for infrastructure development. In fact, EPA Region 10 awarded TSWAN a $31,000 solid waste grant for fiscal year 1999. The funding will allow member tribes to develop an Intertribal Solid Waste Management Plan and become more self supporting as a nonprofit organization.
Through TSWAN, member tribes pursue the following objectives:
- Build a consortium for discussing regional tribal solid waste issues.
- Create a forum for sharing experiences and successes.
- Collect and record individual tribal solid waste management efforts.
- Enable tribes to participate in a national dialogue on solid waste management issues with federal agencies.
- Advise federal agencies on solid waste issues and concerns unique to Inland Empire Tribes.
In past years, tribes did not effectively communicate their challenges and solutions with each other, so mistakes experienced by one tribe were often repeated by another tribe. TSWAN members minimize this problem by discussing common solid waste issues and sharing success stories during quarterly meetings. TSWAN meeting participants discuss topics such as recyclables collection, solid waste management methods, and how to generate greater concern among federal agencies for tribal solid waste management needs. The quarterly meetings often include representatives from EPA, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and other federal agencies, and provide these agencies the opportunity to meet with member tribes and hear their concerns collectively.
TSWAN has proven its effectiveness by providing a forum for the exchange of waste management information and ideas and has accomplished many of its founding goals. Ultimately, TSWAN plans to formally promote advanced waste management concepts (such as source reduction) through its programs and establish a tribal solid waste database to record individual solid waste management efforts. Future goals include acquiring the necessary funding to establish an office to house and maintain the tribal solid waste database and compiling a summary of each member tribes solid waste management concerns for presentation to federal agencies.
Tribes currently participating in TSWAN include the Coeur DAlene Tribe of the Coeur DAlene Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation, Kalispel Indian Community of the Kalispel Reservation, Kootenai Tribe, Nez Perce Tribe, Spokane Tribe of the Spokane Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, and Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation of the Yakama Reservation. TSWAN has invited all tribes in the Pacific Northwest to join and hopes to expand membership throughout EPA Region 10.