Technical Outreach Services for Native American Communities (TOSNAC)

NOTE: The CHSR EPA TOSC and TOSNAC programs ended on August 31, 2006 and CHSR Program Activities ended in 2007. Please be aware that contacts and/or documents for these programs may be out of date on this website.


What is TOSNAC?

The Technical Outreach Services for Native American Communities (TOSNAC) program provides technical assistance to Native Americans dealing with hazardous substance issues. This program is national in scope and coordinated through the Haskell Environmental Research Studies Center at Haskell Indian Nations University. It provides first contact, needs assessment, initial support, and long-term technical support arrangements by regional TOSC programs and other resources, as necessary.

Why is it needed?

In any community involvement situation, the diverse backgrounds and interests of stakeholders may complicate public participation in the environmental decision-making process. This is also true when Native American communities are involved, where added levels of cultural, social and historical differences exist. In addition, tribal communities consider a much broader range of environmental effects and risks when dealing with environmental concerns. While human health is one factor, certain other living and physical resources in the surrounding environment are also critically important. An evolving process that considers this broader range of factors is called "Cultural Risk Assessment."

How does TOSNAC work with tribes and other stakeholders?

The TOSNAC Program Coordinator receives requests for technical support from tribal groups or from referrals from EPA and other officials, determines if TOSNAC and TOSC can help, and then:

  • Provides proactive support using TOSNAC staff,
  • Performs assessment work that may lead to long-term support by regional TOSC programs and/or TOSNAC, or
  • Refers them to other resources that can help.

A major part of the TOSNAC effort involves assisting tribes to develop Cultural Risk Assessment processes meeting specific cultural values/beliefs, in terms that both tribes and other stakeholders (such as EPA, DoD, and states) can understand. This requires co-learning among the tribal, TOSNAC, and other stakeholders. The end result, if successful, is a consensus approach to detecting, assessing, and addressing impacts to important tribal cultural resources.

TOSNAC Resources