Cherokee Nation environmental specialist recognized for Tar Creek efforts


Cherokee Nation Environmental Specialist Jason White received the Mike Synar Environmental Award at the annual Tar Creek Conference held in Miami, Okla., in September.

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —  Cherokee Nation Environmental Specialist Jason White received the Mike Synar Environmental Award recently for promoting safe tribal and cultural practices near Tar Creek, a Superfund site in northeast Oklahoma.

Tar Creek, near Picher, Okla., is a 40-square-mile hazardous waste site that also encompasses southwest Missouri and southeast Kansas. Picher is a former mining town where zinc was produced, and remaining chat piles have been found by the EPA to have elevated levels of lead pollution.

The late former Congressman Mike Synar believed that Tar Creek affected both the health of its area residents, as well as the environment. He sought solutions to make it healthier. Since 1998, L.E.A.D. Agency, a nonprofit organization that educates communities on environmental concerns in northeast Oklahoma, annually recognizes heroes who devote their life and careers to improving environmental hazards of Tar Creek at its annual conference held in Miami, Okla.

“It’s an honor to receive something like the Mike Synar Environmental Award and be recognized for the environmental efforts occurring here at the Cherokee Nation,” said White, who has worked in the Cherokee Nation environmental programs for 17 years. “Mike Synar was a political figure who cared about the environment, so when you receive an award named after someone who was a champion of environmental issues, it is an extreme honor.”

White, 39, of Tahlequah, has been educating tribal citizens and federal agencies on how the environmental hazards of Tar Creek affects tribes’ cultural way of life, such as gigging of non-traditional game fish. He participated in tribal environmental studies and worked closely with other northeastern Oklahoma tribes on tribal life ways and risk to tribal citizens caused by the former mining site. White also served as a member of former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating’s task force on Native Americans subcommittee for Tar Creek.

For more information on the L.E.A.D. Agency Inc., visit For more information on Cherokee Nation Environmental Programs, click here or call 918-453-5111.

Cherokee Nation News Release
Julie Hubbard - 918-207-3896 

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