The Tribal Environmental Department has many duties and responsibilities. Our duties are to preserve the natural resources in a pristine condition for the next seven generations. Working with the forestry and conservation committees and with other tribal departments, we strive to protect, maintain and where necessary, improve the health of the natural environment within the reservation. We should do more than maintain the waters in a condition that allows fishing trout and the forest for timber harvest and deer hunting. We must take notice of all the creatures that depend upon these resources; whether or not they are of economic or recreational value to us.
Most people remember what the forest and rivers were like in their childhood and many believe that is the way the forest and rivers should be. However, that is often not the case. If the people of seven generations ago would look at the reservation now, would they approve of our stewardship of the land? Could they even recognize the land? What will the people seven generations from now see? If the land and water cannot sustain the creatures that go un-noticed by the average person, will it sustain the species that we seek in our fishing, hunting or gathering? Who among us takes notice of the salamanders, the tree frogs, or the purple-fringed orchids? Is the diminutive deer mouse as important as the deer? Is a minnow as important as the trout? Do we desire the cardinals at our window while we despise the blackbirds? Many people noticed only a fraction of the life around them, and what they do see they may divide into the “good’ and the “bad”. Within the environmental department we do not ask that you love deer mice or snakes, but we do ask that you recognize and respect that they are as much a part of the creator's plan and part of the resources as those things you do love.
Our goal in the Environmental Department is to research what our reservation was like seven generations ago, and by using education, laws and wise management tools, insuring that in seven generations the land will be like it was in the past. The Environmental Department must consider the growing needs of an expanding community and balance those with protection of the natural environment. We view this as not only including our responsibility to the resources within the reservation, but also our responsibility of being a good national and global partner with all people and all nations in resource protection.
Thus, as the department grows we will be looking towards projects that not only protect and enhance the natural resources of the reservation, but also assist tribal members in living a life that reduces our demands on the natural resources of the rest of the world. We should not preserve our own natural resources only to depend upon and overuse resources from the rest of the world. We must live lightly on the earth, use less, give more, and live a life that allows the next seven generations to sustain themselves.