But the people did express themselves on how they felt about Clean Water and a Healthy Tar Creek.
They want both. And hundreds of people all types of people signed confirming that.
Had we had enough to go to the ballot, we would have had a campaign this fall for Clean Water, Tar Creek would have gotten some attention and a bunch more love.
But Tar Creek is resilient and patient. She got friends, lots of them and EPA will find that out.
Our circulators were handicapped by our rules: that they should limit their exposure to COVID, by either masking or talking to neighbors, relatives in small groups, and outside when possible. Our circulators got through this process without being infected and we believe not infecting others.
We are proud of them and for each of the people in Miami who picked up a pen and put their names on the line!
Don't be disappointed. We will proceed with a Rally for Tar Creek this fall and we will be asking any of our participants to consider joining a Stream Team and taking on testing one of the sites along Tar Creek once a month, so we can determine just how she is doing. We will test for nutrients, bacteria and heavy metals. In other words, we will take her temperature and if she is good at one site, and that all changes at the next, we know something has happened, one of those pesky polluters can be found because we will turn in our findings to EPA and the State, and certainly share our findings with the City, since through all this we have learned the City cares too.
It is just hard to be bold, hard to leap onto the concept of giving Rights to Nature. As Native people, having a relationship with nature is natural, understanding our reliance on the importance of water and knowing it is life itself, makes giving water rights a concept easily accepted, not foreign. When the Intertribal Council voted unanimously to approve a resolution in favor, we were honored and felt blessed with that designation.
But it is a concept that we worked into the ordinance in a simple way. When Tar Creek's rights were violated by a polluter or in some way robbed of the right to flow and regenerate, Tar Creek became the victim, and thus gained recognition as more than a "thing" more than a creek, she became a living victim whose rights had been violated. This would have been a nuisance misdemeanor, a thing that the City of Miami knows how to manage.
42 years ago last November our once beloved was tainted, stained and shunned because basically the Little One was abused, you might even say she had been raped and began to bleeding red and orange so much so, the world could see and did.
Through the years she has been abandoned, forgotten, shunned. But this summer, it was like the neighbors, the towns people turned back to her, started to remember, started to hope for her, began thinking of her as family again and signed those Clean Water Protection petitions for a Healthy Tar Creek.
It was time and she looks better, not so strangely colored, true, some of that may be hidden by a green tinge in the water, but actually the color is better. How come, what could be different? The 2 decades of work a fellow from the University of Oklahoma, Bob Nairn done by capturing and treating the huge load of heavy metals that had been flowing from Commerce from George Mayer's horse farm next to his brick factory and the water escaping from the "red" hole as it had been known there near the Commerce High School.
Bob Nairn hasn't worked on this project alone, he has had decades of students join him. But he got one of our own when Miami High School student, Nick Shepherd's presented his science fair project at one of the National Environmental Conferences on Tar Creek right here at the Miami Civic Center. Bob recruited him for OU, and it is there he is now finishing his pHD.
The Commerce projects are taking "bad" water and slowly through a passive treatment system flowing it through a series of "ponds" removing metals and filtering it so when that water leaves to enter our Tar Creek, is has become "good" and fish-worthy.
Now we need EPA to pick up the pace and do the work that will stop that daily load of 1 million gallons of bad water each day. Bob and Nick have done their part, the citizens in Miami did their part and now we demand EPA do theirs.
Respectfully Submitted ~ Rebecca Jim