2.4 Tribal Response

The initial focus of tribal responders during an incident may be similar to that of local responders: directed toward abating immediate public safety threats. The degree of tribal response will depend upon the training and capabilities of tribal responders relative to the needs of the specific emergency. In some cases, this may be using hazard awareness training knowledge to identify the nature and scope of the hazard. This information is then passed on to other responders who are activated to address the situation with specific expertise and/or capabilities. Tribal agencies may take mitigating actions of a defensive nature to contain the incident and protect the public.

There are currently 35 federally-recognized tribal governments in Region 5. As set forth in the 1984 EPA Indian Policy, "EPA recognizes tribal governments as sovereign entities with primary authority and responsibility for the reservation." The Indian Policy also states that EPA "will view tribal governments as the appropriate non-federal parties for making decisions and carrying out program responsibilities affecting Indian reservations, their environments, and the health and welfare of the reservation populace." EPA works with each tribe on a one-to-one or "government-to-government" basis. Visit EPA.gov to see a list of tribes and links to further information: www.epa.gov/tribal/region-5-tribal-program

A major role of tribal government agencies during emergency incidents on a reservation is providing security for on-scene forces and equipment. For large incidents, help may be requested through Federal or State emergency management agencies. This includes establishing local liaison with reservation hospital, emergency services, and police personnel, as well as restricting entrance to hazardous areas to only essential personnel.

Response capabilities of Tribes in Region 5 vary. Some tribes may be able to provide technical expertise to assess environmental and public health threats and damage, as well as to advise local responders. Summaries of emergency preparedness capabilities for individual Tribes in Region 5 are included in sections following as information becomes available. Omission of a tribe here should not be taken as an indication of lack of response capability or readiness. Contact names for individual tribes are included in the appendices to this plan.

Tribes are natural resource trustees for resources on tribal reservations and resources protected by treaties (including ceded territories). Tribes designate contacts for notification purposes. Federal OSCs should note these may be different individuals than those shown as the contact for spill notification for other than natural resource impacts.

Tribal Historic Preservation Officers (THPOs) are available to advise responders when response actions may impact tribal historical or cultural resources. If impacts on such resources are identified, the response should be adjusted to protect those resources where feasible and if time is available.

Responses by Federal OSCs to environmental emergencies within a reservation are conducted in consultation with the Tribe. Notification of tribal natural resource trustees about a spill or notification of THPOs about a proposed response action does not meet obligations to consult with the Tribe. Consultation is defined by US EPA or USCG policy, and responders and decision-makers from each agency will adhere to their agency’s policy. The EPA Consultation Policy, the Guidance, related documents, and answers to frequently asked questions may be found at www.epa.gov/tribal.

The USCG Consultation Policy of Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments under Executive Order 13175 can be found at the following link: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2001/07/11/01-17403/the-coast-guards-policy-of-consultation-and-coordination-with-indian-tribal-governments-under

The Chair of each Tribe in Region 5 should designate a lead staff person to direct Tribal response operations. [This tribal lead is responsible for coordinating and communicating with other Tribal agencies, as appropriate (NCP 300.180).] Tribes may form a Tribal Emergency Response Commission (TERC) or the Tribal Chair may serve as a one-person TERC under SARA Title III. Individual Tribes also may choose to coordinate with a SERC (or SERB in Minnesota) and/or with LEPCs. Each Tribal Chair may also designate a representative for the Tribe on the RRT5. Each Tribal representative may participate fully in all activities of the RRT5.

2.4.1 Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

The Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians has a signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Emmet County Emergency Management Agency, which also covers Cheboygan and Charlevoix Counties, and with Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency. The Tribe is a member of the Counties Emergency Center. The Tribe has five first responders trained in the 40-hour HazMat training certification course. They are the only trained and certified HazMat responders in the three-county area.

2.4.2 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation

Responsible parties (RPs) for spills occurring within the reservation and on off-reservation Band properties shall report the incident to the Mille Lacs Band Department of Public Safety, Emergency Management Coordinator via cell phone 763-360-2729 (available 24/7) or pager 320-202-4123 (available 24/7).

Non-tribal RPs may also choose to report the spill by contacting the State of Minnesota Duty Officer at 651-649-5451 and 800-422-0798 (in-State long distance), who will notify the Mille Lacs Band Department of Public Safety Emergency Management Coordinator. This reporting option does not waive any jurisdictional claims that may be made by the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation government.

The 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation tribal government has an established Tribal Emergency Response Committee (TERC). The Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) under the Director of Public Safety is responsible for providing information to the TERC, which has overall direction and control of Reservation government resources involved in the response to an emergency within the reservation. The EMC also serves as primary liaison with the Mille Lacs County, Aitkin County and Pine County Emergency Management Directors. The 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation tribal government has regional Emergency Management mutual aid agreements in place with the above three counties as well as Tribal Police agreements with Mille Lacs and Pine Counties. During a major disaster, the Reservation’s Emergency Operating Center (EOC) will be activated to direct and control the Reservation’s response.

The 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation government has approximately 36 full-time staff available to respond to or monitor response to spills and environmental emergencies. These positions are in the Department of Public Safety and Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The primary response role of the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation government is intergovernmental coordination, oversight and advice. The above personnel are responsible for complaint investigation and emergency spill response and generally oversee the environmental aspects of spill containment, control, and mitigation, in conjunction with other nontribal responders. If necessary, ERT staff will proceed to the site to provide coordination and assistance in handling the emergency. Appropriately trained staff within the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation government can provide hands-on response with air, water, soil collections and testing. It is anticipated, however, that all initial spill response will be conducted by emergency responders from local units of government and/or the RP. Environmental mitigation (after the initial response) associated with material spills will generally be conducted by the RP.

Under the authority granted by U.S. Presidential Executive Order 13084, signed in 2000, the 1855 Mille Lacs Reservation tribal government implemented an Emergency Operations Response Program to coordinate initial response efforts for releases. All response and cleanup conducted within the reservation and on off-reservation Band properties must be done in accordance with Mille Lacs Band statutes 11 MLBSA §§ 11 and 101-128.

The Commissioner of Natural Resources is the designated Natural Resources Trustee for the Tribe in accordance with Mille Lacs Band statute 11 MLBSA §2002 and the Chief Executive is the trustee for all Reservation Resources in accordance with Mille Lacs Band statute 4 MLBSA §6.

Overall direction from an oil or hazardous materials spill comes from the unified command system used by the TERC. The reservation has its own Tribal Police Department and fire response comes from off-reservation fire departments.

Since tribal ownership of land inside and outside the Reservation is very checker-boarded, the tribe follows the NIMS incident command system in which response starts with Reservation first. If the tribe expends all of its resources and staff, the tribe may choose to request assistance from federal, state, and local authorities and resources.