QUAPAW, Okla. — A local tribe is commemorating a decade of work to heal its land.
Quapaw Nation held an event Wednesday, celebrating 10 years of collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of Oklahoma. It involves the remediation of the Tar Creek Superfund Site, which spans portions of the Sooner State, as well as Missouri and Kansas.
In September 2013, the Quapaw Nation became the first tribe in EPA history to clean up a portion of a Superfund site, known as the “Catholic 40.” It gets its name from remnants of a 1893 Catholic church on the land along with a cemetery and boarding school that many Quapaw Tribe members attended. At the time, workers removed more than 100,000 tons of contaminated mining waste and preserved pieces of the tribe’s history.
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The tribe has since expanded its efforts, especially to an area near Treece, Kansas, which was originally within the boundaries of Quapaw Nation.
“Quapaw Nation’s healing their land and they’re healing their home. That vested interest that they have – this is their land forever. They were given this, it was set aside for them, and it’s going to be theirs forever, so we’re the ones at stake in partnership with the EPA and the state to do this until it’s done,” said Craig Kreman, Quapaw Nation Environmental Director.
This year also marks 40 years of clean-up efforts at the Tar Creek Superfund Site. Kreman estimates decades of work are still ahead to get the land to Quapaw Nation’s standards.