Click here to download: Sampling and Analysis Plan for the Development of a Cultural Resource Index (CRI) for Aquatic Resources that are Culturally Important to the Six Treaty Tribes of Oklahoma
Department of the Environment
The Wyandotte Nation Environmental Department has many duties while strengthening the capacity of its governing structure and maintaining a viable Environmental Program. The program employs Program Director Christen Lee, Environmental Assistant Kathleen Welch, Environmental Technician, Janice Wilson and Environmental Education Technician, Jon Quick.
The department continues to monitor the Tribal Water System through monthly, annual, three-year and six-year tests to make sure it complies with all regulatory standards of the EPA, with which our tribal well is permitted. Private well bacteria and heavy metals testing is an ongoing resource that is provided free of charge to tribal members within a 50-mile radius of the Wyandotte Nation.
Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP)
In 1992, Congress passed the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act (42 U.S.C. 4368b) which authorizes EPA to provide General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to federally-recognized tribes and tribal consortia for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian country, as well as for developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands.
The goal of this program is to assist tribes in developing the capacity to manage their own environmental protection programs, and to develop and implement solid and hazardous waste programs in accordance with individual tribal needs and applicable federal laws and regulations.
Through our GAP grant we maintain an Environmental Education Program, prioritizing on recycling with the utilization of “RENIE (Recycling Environmental Needs In Education),” the Recycle Robot. “RENIE” is a visual aid with curriculum to help children in learning the importance of recycling. We maintain two recycling trailers: one located just East of the Lucky Turtle Casino and Turtle Stop, the other is located further East, in front of our offices on Hwy 60. A variety of recyclables can be placed inside these trailers and are taken to Red Cedar Recycling in Miami. We recently added a recycling pickup route to the Tribal Housing Complex and to the Wyandotte Public Schools.
In the fall of 2011 our Department received a grant from the BIA Solid Waste Fund for a Recycling Center. Pad was poured and beams erected in November of 2012, building was completed in January of 2013 and equipment started being moved in.
On March 11, 2013 we held our Grand Opening. Chief Billy Friend performed a Smoking and Cleansing Ceremony, and gave a Welcoming Address. A total of 53 Wyandotte Nation members, employees, City of Wyandotte Officials, local and regional BIA Reps and area residents were in attendance. Cake and refreshments were served afterwards.
For many of our education programs, we utilize our outdoor classroom, which is the gazebo Southwest of Bearskin Fitness Center and a recently constructed a Rain Garden, which is located just to the north of the Bearskin Fitness Center Expansion.
Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 106 Tribal Water Pollution Control Grant Program
The Wyandotte Nation historical jurisdiction.
Grants under Section 106 of the CWA are intended to assist Indian Tribes in carrying out effective water pollution control programs. Federally-recognized Indian Tribes or Intertribal Consortia meeting the requirements for Treatment as a State (TAS), as set forth under Section 518 (e) of the CWA are eligible for these grants. Each member of an Intertribal Consortium must meet the requirements for TAS.
Section 106 grants may be used to fund a wide range of water quality activities including: water quality planning and assessments; development of water quality standards; ambient monitoring; development of total maximum daily loads; issuing permits; ground water and wetland protection; nonpoint source control activities (including nonpoint source assessment and management plans); and Unified Watershed Assessments (UWA) under the Clean Water Action Plan (CWAP).
Routine water sampling is conducted monthly at six sites in the Wyandotte Nation allowing us to gather important data about the water quality of our streams. Monitoring our water will help us identify changes and possibly sources of water pollution in our area so that steps can be implemented to remediate or prevent damage.
We have conducted a full Bio-assessment in the Spring on Lost Creek, Warrens Branch (which is used as a reference stream), Sycamore Creek, Brush Creek, Roark Creek and Mason Springs Valley. Macro-invertebrate sampling has been performed at each one of these sites. Determining the presence and numbers of certain indicator species tells us a lot about the water quality of a stream. Comparing the results from year to year can show us changes in water quality.
Working with our neighbors
Relationships with Tribal, State and Federal organizations relating to the Tri-State Mining District and/or the Tar Creek Super Fund Site are continuing. We also work with other tribal environmental departments in a group called NATURE (Native American Tribes United to Restore the Environment). Through GAP and CWA Section 106 Water Programs, we have been given the capability to complete and/or continue projects, and to identify other areas for future development. Our goal is to insure tribal self-sufficiency through future economic development projects, water quality, air quality, solid waste, etc. It is our pleasure to represent the Environmental Protection Agency through this worthwhile program.
Wyandotte territory is located at the southwest point of the Spring river watershed and encompasses most of the northeast arm of the lakes watershed in Oklahoma.
Non-Point Source Pollution
The Environmental Department monitors surface water quality within Wyandotte Nation’s historical jurisdiction. Non-Point Source pollution is water pollution affecting a water body from diffuse sources, such as polluted runoff from agricultural areas and is a major cause of water quality issues in our area.
There are three Federal Reservoirs upstream from us in the Neosho River watershed, all nutrient impaired. This NPS pollution from poor agricultural practices has caused many problems in those areas. Marion Reservoir beaches had to be shut down in 2005 because of algae blooms and the cost of water treatment has been increased. So much sediment runoff has filled the Neosho River channel just upstream of John Redmond Reservoir that a logjam was created completely cutting off boat traffic between the lake and river.
Clean Water Act – Section 319
Congress amended the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1987 to establish the section 319 Nonpoint Source Management Program because it recognized the need for greater federal leadership to help focus State and local nonpoint source efforts. Under section 319, States, Territories, and Indian Tribes receive grant money which supports a wide variety of activities including technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects, and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source implementation projects.
The Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma has prepared a Nonpoint Source Management Plan in conjunction with Tribal Environmental Management Services in order to address the environmental degradation caused by the nonpoint sources (NPS) of pollution identified in the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma Nonpoint Source Assessment. The overall goal of this Management Plan is to improve water quality on Wyandotte lands. Specifically, the Wyandotte Environmental Department and the Wyandotte Tribal Council would like to ensure that all water sources on tribal lands meet the water quality standards for their designated uses. The Neosho River, Spring River, Sycamore Creek, Lost Creek, and Brush Creek are the primary water sources on Wyandotte jurisdictional lands and will be the major focus of restoration efforts. The primary long term objective of the Tribe is to ensure that these water sources are restored to high quality cold/warm water aquatic community standards, depending on the designation of the water source. This NPS Management Plan will greatly help the Wyandotte Environmental Department in achieving this goal.
Phosphorus is generally the limiting nutrient in fresh water systems and any increase in it usually results in more aquatic vegetation. When this vegetation dies decomposition depletes oxygen in the water. This process is called Eutrophication. Society is concerned about maintaining clean drinking water. This concern now includes a cost for removing the color, taste, and odor associated with the high trophic condition and vegetation growth in surface water due to excess nutrients, most notably Phosphorus. As a result, a tool was needed for dealing with this type of pollution leading to the development of the Phosphorus Index.
The purpose of the Phosphorus Index is to provide field staffs, watershed planners, and land users with a tool to assess the various landforms and management practices for potential risk of phosphorus movement to water bodies. The ranking of Phosphorus Index identifies sites where the risk of phosphorus movement may be relatively higher than that of other sites. When the parameters of the index are analyzed, it will become apparent that an individual parameter or parameters may be influencing the index disproportionately. These identified parameters can be the basis for planning corrective soil and water conservation practices and management techniques. If successful in reducing the movement of phosphorus, the concern of phosphorus enrichment will also be reduced.
For the 2011 -12 Fiscal Year we added Septic System Assessments and Replacement of failing systems. Thus far we have conducted approximately (40) Assessments and replaced 4 failing systems, and repaired (1) system. If you would like to have your system assessed and live within the Grand Lake Watershed, please contact Kathleen A. Welch, Environmental Assistant or Christen Lee, Environmental Department Director.
Principle types of NPS pollution:
Sediment – Caused by eroding stream banks and improper plant cover. Lowers light penetration which can inhibit aquatic plant growth which can affect fish that are dependent on them.Control: Farmers can both retain their valuable soil and prevent water pollution by utilizing techniques such as contour plowing, crop mulching, crop rotation, planting perennial crops and installing riparian buffers.
Nutrients – Excess Nitrogen & Phosphorus applied as fertilizers. Lowers oxygen levels in the water, harming or killing fish. Farmers can implement plans to reduce excess application of nutrients.
Pathogens – Contaminate runoff from poorly-managed livestock operations, pet waste and faulty septic systems.
For more information on environmental issues, check out these websites:
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
Local Environmental Action Demanded Agency
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Oklahoma Water Resources Board
Grand Lake Association’s Non-point source page
Be sure to check out other environmental photos located in our website’s photo gallery.
If you need any additional information concerning any of the Wyandotte Nation Environmental projects, please contact us at
Christen Lee – 918-678-6341
Kathleen Welch- 918-678-6335
Janice Wilson – 918-678-6345
Jon Quick – 918-678-6352