2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 253-10
Presentation Time: 4:05 PM


ZAMZOW, Kendra, Center for Science in Public Participation (CSP2), PO Box 1250, Chickaloon, AK 99674, kzamzow@csp2.org

Tribes, given their sovereign status, have a unique position from which to interact with regulators. However technical jargon, unfamiliar legal and regulatory processes, and a tradition of exclusion can be barriers. This presentation will provide two examples of how tribes brought their voices to the table when mining projects were proposed in Alaska, and the role geoscience communication played.

True communication involves sharing. When a resource extraction project is proposed, tribes can provide critical local and historical information, while a geoscientist can provide information on geochemistry, geophysics, environmental toxicology, and reclamation. Each needs to be sensitive to how the other is able to receive and digest information. Together they can highlight critical risk areas.

In the first example, tribes were invited to act as “cooperating agencies” on par with state and federal permitting agencies in developing a draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed gold mine. The remote mine would be located near one of the most important subsistence rivers in Alaska. The mineralized zone contains arsenopyrite and host rock contains a mix of carbonate and sulfide material in a mercury belt.

In the second example, tribes requested educational presentations on environmental risks for a proposed copper-gold mine proposed in a salmon-rich area. Geology and hydrology were critical aspects of the project. After educational efforts in several remote villages, tribes decided to use their government-to-government status to request that permits for the mine be denied.

As time allows, details of difficulties, barriers, and successful communication can be discussed with the audience.

  • Zamzow_TribalVoices_2015 GSA, final.pptx (10.5 MB)