Our core programs are the Mercury Tribal Health, Tribal Self-Advocacy, and our Leadership programs. Together these empower California Indian communities to practice subsistence fishing cultures, avoid mercury and PCBs in fish, self-advocate for cleanup of California lands and waterways, and train the future generation to be environmental stewards.
CIEA provides technical support for California Tribes to address environmental issues with a focus on water quality, collaboration among Tribes with agencies and community-driven strategy development. We facilitate an average of seven (7) Tribal environmental strategy meetings annually, wherein Tribes share best practices, resource opportunities and engage collaboratively with each other and with local, state, and federal government agencies.
Tribal Beneficial Uses
CIEA supports Northern California Tribes in applying new Tribal beneficial use definitions and water quality criteria to Central Valley, San Francisco Bay and North Coast Basin Plan Amendments, and the Pacific Ocean Plan Update. CIEA will support Tribal engagement for Northern California Tribal efforts to regionally designate traditionally used water bodies under the “new” statewide beneficial use definitions, “Tribal Subsistence Fishing” and “Tribal Cultural Uses. These new definitions are now legally defendable under the Clean Water Act (CWA). In addition to meaningful Tribal inclusion, long-term benefits include increased protections for water quality.
Integration of the two new Beneficial Uses, has been determined as a priority by each Regional Water Board for all four plans. CIEA is currently working to engage 81 San Francisco, Central and Northern California Tribes to support Tribal engagement and participation in the update process. We will provide training on how to to complete fish consumption and cultural use surveys; work to build consensus on final recommendations to each regional water board; organize and coordinate two planning meetings per basin plan, and provide travel support for Tribal cultural practitioners and staff to attend regional board meetings and hearings (32 participants to attend water board hearings). Tribes will determine which water bodies in their regions need which standards and the associated water quality objectives. We will then assist Tribes in coordinating testimonies and identifying criteria to support the need for cultural beneficial uses on specific water bodies during different times of the year.
Integrated Regional Water Management
CIEA is the Tribal Engagement Coordinator for three key Integrate Regional Water Management (IRWM) regions, in the Sierra/Sacramento River, the North Coast, and the San Francisco Bay and Bay Delta, wherein we coordinate Tribal Representative Elections, water strategy workgroups, and advisory committees. We spearhead campaigns to create new tools for Indigenous Peoples to acquire and require cleaner water quality standards under the Clean Water Act. We also coordinate with Tribes to increase their participation within their local Regional Water Management Groups. Oftentimes this coordination leads to voting seats for Tribes within their local Regional Water Management Groups.
AB-52- CIEA’s project is working towards changing the Tribal Consultation requirement of AB-52 with the assistance of Tribes. While encouraging the continuation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge by Tribal Historic Preservation Officers, Tribal EPA Directors, and Tribal elders and members, AB-52 Tribal Consultation requires Tribes to request in writing notification of proposed projects in Tribal footprint areas where proposed projects may have a significant impact. CIEA works with Tribes throughout the state to ensure this requirement is fulfilled before any project is executed by ensuring that the state meets its responsibility of prior and informed consultation.
The Delta Conveyance Project proposes two new intake facilities, each with 3,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) capacity for a total 6,000 cfs including a tunnel taking water from Northern California to Southern California which limits the possibilities for how surface and groundwater can be enhanced by restoration and enhancement of natural systems and impacts the footprint and surrounding environment and habitat negatively making it unsustainable and detrimental to the environment. It largely focuses on how much water can be stored and diverted instead of focusing on how upland meadows, slowly meandering streams and rivers supported by wide riparian zones, and wetlands could greatly enhance groundwater sequestration and surface water slowing which would provide water in wildlands for fire protections and cooling water for fish habitat.
CIEA is in discussion with California Tribes to put an end to this project and present environmentally friendly and sustainable alternatives, which is what Tribes can spearhead. CIEA and Tribes are in conversations with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) to convince them of the negative impacts of this particular project. We are hopeful that DWR will recognize this and listen to the expertise of Tribes who have been stewarding the land since time immemorial. The Delta Conveyance Project is similar to other projects proposed in the past by governors of California only with a different name. CIEA is advocating for DWR to work more closely with Tribes to create a sustainable plan for California that has less of a detrimental impact on both the environment and on the Native American people of California.
CIEA was able to hire our Communications/Public Relations Coordinator in 2018 who has been instrumental in the revival of our monthly newsletter, which had previously been on hiatus due to staff capacity.
CIEA Environmental Chronicles provides monthly announcements about upcoming training, capacity building, Tribal Self-Advocacy and funding opportunities, as well as water and environmental related news such as the Clean Water Act. Readers are more than welcome to send information about upcoming events, training, or news that
The newsletter is one of our most important platforms of communication because it goes out to all of the Tribes and Tribal organizations on our contact lists.
With the hiring of our Communications Coordinator, CIEA has been able to increase our social media presence on Facebook and create a presence on Twitter and Instagram. This has allowed us to stay connected with our networks, create content that is relatable to Tribal Sovereignty, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and many other topics that have an impact on Native/Indigenous communities.