Equitable Brownfield Redevelopment Guidance for Tribal Communities

Location: Zuni Pueblo, New Mexico | Client: EPA | Project Date: January 2012 – February 2013

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Equitable Redevelopment of Petroleum Brownfields for Zuni Pueblo and Other Tribal Communities

Project Description


The Zuni people have farmed the semi-arid Zuni River Valley for thousands of years. Today, approximately 10,000 Zuni members live in the Zuni Pueblo with a rich religious and arts culture. However, today many Zuni are challenged with a lack of basic amenities. According to tribal members, unemployment is 62 percent and there is a 40 percent shortfall in housing needs. Sparked by the presence of three petroleum brownfield sites in the Zuni Pueblo, the EPA Office of Sustainable Communities, in partnership with the Office of Underground Storage Tanks and the Office of Brownfields and Land Revitalization, initiated a dialogue among Zuni leaders to identify community needs and redevelopment barriers. The result is a guidance document to support the equitable redevelopment of these sites and similar sites in other tribal communities.


In 2010, the EPA enlisted a team including Skeo to talk with Zuni leaders and identify community needs, site opportunities and redevelopment barriers. Based on this initial shared learning, the consultant team developed a guidance document that includes tools, resources and case studies organized around seven steps to promote equitable principles in the redevelopment process. The document, “Equitable Redevelopment of Petroleum Brownfields for Zuni Pueblo and Other Tribal Communities,” provides a menu of strategies that local tribal leaders and their partners can use to craft a roadmap that fits the unique circumstances of each community. The draft document was shared with over fifty Zuni program managers and tribal leaders, along with members of the Zuni community, to initiate discussion around Zuni needs and near-term strategies to inform economic development and revitalization of the formerly-contaminated sites.


The Zuni Tribal Government has now formally endorsed an ad hoc committee of relevant program managers to move forward in implementing the equitable redevelopment strategies. Program managers are seeing the connections between land use, economic development, community engagement and contaminated site cleanup. This process has formed new partnerships both within and beyond the Pueblo, and helped to shine a much-needed funding spotlight on the needs of the Zuni Pueblo.