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Goldman Prize winner Brad Kasberg to work with Miami Tribe of Oklahoma
The Goldman prize annually allows a Miami senior to realize a dream. It gives students with exceptional promise the gift of time to pursue ideas and activities that will enrich their later work and careers. The prize is believed to be among the largest undergraduate awards in the country.
Kasberg, a member of the Miami Nation of Indiana, a geography and anthropology double major and an urban planning and regional analysis minor, is well positioned to carry out his project.
“As a Miami, I have invaluable resources of knowledge granted from my interactions with the Myaamia Project and the rest of the tribal community,” Kasberg said.
The Myaamia Project is a tribal initiative with Miami University to advance the Miami tribe’s language and revitalization efforts.
Several components of Kasberg’s Goldman project:
“The Miami tribe has a long history of forced migration from our traditional homeland followed by environmental exploitation and widespread contamination in our new homeland in northeastern Oklahoma,” Kasberg explained.
The Miami tribal land, located in Ottawa County, Okla., is adjacent to the Tar Creek Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site. Tar Creek was one of the nation’s first Superfund sites, listed in 1983. Zinc and lead mining, prevalent in the area from the 1900s through 1970, resulted in huge piles of waste mine tailings, called chat, near the Miami tribe’s crop lands, and widespread contamination throughout the watershed.
• conduct an analysis of zinc, lead and cadmium contamination of soil and water on Miami tribal land and map the widespread contamination of the tribal land;
• cultivate plants culturally significant to the tribe and analyze them for zinc, lead and cadmium contamination; and
• develop a sustainable land use plan for the tribe.
“Appropriate land use will vary according to levels of contamination on these lands, yet the degree of lead contamination across these lands has not been comprehensively defined,” Kasberg said.
A major part of Kasberg’s project involves planting and cultivating culturally significant plants on tribal land. Currently the land is used for agriculture — corn and cattle grazing – with some wetland areas unused. After the growing season Kasberg will collect plant samples and conduct analyses of zinc, lead and cadmium contamination. This will be conducted in a research laboratory in the department of geology.
Miami (University) mentors and experience
Kasberg’s project mentors are Jason Rech and Jonathan Levy, associate professors of geology, and Daryl Baldwin, director of the Myaamia Project.
Kasberg worked with Levy, Rech and Baldwin last summer during a workshop, Environmental Issues of the Miami Tribe, offered by Miami’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability.
“The workshop provided me with an intense study of the widespread heavy metal contamination that pervades tribal life in Oklahoma,” Kasberg explained. “The summer course is the backbone of this project, and has supplied me with a very detailed understanding of the conditions of the contamination.” This summer’s workshop will focus, in part, on Kasberg’s project.
Kasberg also was a Wilks Scholar in the Shaping Sustainable Communities cohort. “I consider the Shaping Sustainabilities cohort to define my time here at Miami University, as it has shaped my interests and goals since my sophomore year,” Kasberg said. “Without this cohort, I may never have been introduced to the importance of urban planning, environmental studies and the real world politics that entangle these issues.
Building on his Wilks Scholar experience, Kasberg participated in Miami’s Urban Leadership Internship Program last summer, through which he secured an internship with the city of Cleveland’s City Planning Commission.
“This fantastic opportunity emphasized that creating a comprehensive view is vital to successful and meaningful urban planning—this is exactly what the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma lacks in regards to heavy metal contamination on their lands and the lands that surround them, and what I aim to provide to my tribe.”
The Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize was established by Eric Goldman to honor his late wife Joanna, a 1943 Miami graduate. Students from all majors compete for the prize, which has been awarded annually since 1993.