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About OTA

Two American Indian MenResponding to environmental health needs unique to tribes.

Mission: To support ATSDR in developing policies, procedures, funding, and research that address the environmental health needs of American Indian and Alaska Native populations.

Vision Statement: To utilize the knowledge passed down from our ancestors and the advances of modern science to protect mother earth for future generations.

Symbol: Good Omen

Core Values:

  • To consult with tribes before taking action
  • To form partnerships with tribes
  • To be reliable in all ways
  • To utilize the power of diversity
  • To be an advocate of native culture, history, sovereignty, values, and principles
  • To respect indigenous science, traditional knowledge, environmental balance, and the importance of observation

History: The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Office of Tribal Affairs (OTA) was established in 1999 in response to tribal requests. Since that time, OTA has been assisting with tribal-specific environmental health needs resulting from exposure to hazardous waste sites and pollution. ATSDR has established a firm commitment to working with American Indian/Alaska Native governments, organizations, and communities.

Tribal Policies: The following policies developed by OTA, with appropriate tribal consultation, set the foundation for ATSDR's work with tribes:

ATSDR Policy on Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments. This policy provides guidelines on the implementation of the government-to-government relationship with the tribes' policy on government-to-government relations with American Indian tribal governments. This policy was developed in response to the Memorandum on Government-to-Government Relations with Native American Tribal Governments FR 96-20702.

ATSDR Consultation and Coordination Policy with Indian Tribal Governments. The agency established the Office of Tribal Affairs and prepared this policy to ensure that regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal governments occur in the conduct of the agency's public health activities: Consultation and Coordination Policy with Indian Tribal Governments FR 99-19677.

Consistent with these policies, ATSDR


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Respects and honors the sovereignty of tribes, the responsibilities and rights to self-governance, and the differences between tribal nations and individuals.



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Consults with tribal governments to ensure community concerns and impacts are carefully considered before the agency takes action or makes decisions affecting tribal communities.



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Maintains government-to-government relationships with tribal governments.



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Ensures ongoing communication with tribal governments, communities, and individual tribal members to define concerns about possible health impacts from exposures to hazardous substances.

This page last updated on November 15, 2006

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