MASHANTUCKET, Conn. – The Fifth Annual Tribal Utility Summit (TUS) started on Tuesday, April 8 in Mashantucket, Conn. at the Mashantucket (Western) Pequot Tribal Nation. TUS is a training and continuing educational program for operators and managers overseeing Tribal drinking water, waste water, solid waste utility, infrastructure, and public safety, which is cooperatively supported by United South and Eastern Tribes, Incorporated (USET), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Nashville Area Office of Indian Health Service (IHS). The mission of improving and protecting a healthy and safe quality of life is the theme of the TUS.
USET Office of Environmental Resources Management director Jerry Pardilla, a member of the Penobscot Indian Nation, told attendees, “The building blocks of Tribal sovereignty begin with Tribal operations and operators like you. One of our most precious resources is water. We must protect it. This responsibility extends to our public safety officers, fire, police, and EMS. Please work diligently to gain skills and knowledge, which will contribute to your community’s ability to exercise its sovereignty and rebuild our Tribal nations.”
The TUS is hosted by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Chairman Rodney Butler stated in his opening and welcoming remarks to more than 120 Tribal utility workers, speakers, and vendors, “You perform a critically important service. I thank you. We as Indian people are the protectors of our natural resources.”
Speaking for Indian Health Services was LCDR Thomas R. Armitage, Tribal Utility Consultant. “You guys are on the front line of service. Without your work we would be without good clean water and disease and poor heath in our communities would be the result.”
EPA’s Captain Michael Stover, Indian Program Manager for EPA Region 1, followed Armitage’s comments to the Tribal utility employees saying, “You are the unsung heroes of every community who comes to depend on your profession, to provide safe drinking water and sanitary wastewater facilities every single moment of every single day. You are the first responders in your line of work, professionals who make sure what is broken gets fixed, what is in short supply gets replenished. You often only hear from your community when there are problems, and rarely do you receive the ‘thank you’ for ensuring uninterrupted service to your Tribal customers.”
Members of 15 federally recognized Tribes registered to attend this year’s event.