Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Christopher Schmidt

Subject Categories

Environmental Health and Protection | Environmental Studies | Natural Resources Management and Policy


Environmental justice, CERCLA, Superfund, Native American Studies, Onondaga, Quapaw


The Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program mandates that Native American tribes are afforded the same treatment as states in the implementation of environmental remediation projects; however, the degree of coordination and consultation between the EPA and sovereign tribal governments varies widely between sites. Two of the Superfund program’s highest profile sites with Native American interest, northeast Oklahoma’s Tar Creek and central New York’s Onondaga Lake, are characterized by such a disparity in tribal participation. While Oklahoma’s Quapaw Tribe would ultimately enter into a number of cooperative agreements with the EPA for direct control over remedial projects, New York’s Onondaga Nation were largely ignored throughout the Superfund process, and attempted to force their way to the table in federal court. This research addresses whether the EPA’s statutory reforms intended to increase tribal participation and coordination have achieved their aim, as well as whether providing direct tribal control over Superfund site remediation is an opportunity for alternative ecological and decolonial approaches to environmental remediation and environmental justice within the EPA.