The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has been recognized for its environmental and recycling efforts.

The Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma has been recognized for its environmental and recycling efforts.

In a formal ceremony Wednesday at the Tribal Annex Building in West Seneca, Patrick Riley of the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality said the department’s mission is to protect, preserve and restore the state’s natural resources. He noted that Eastern Shawnee was a partner in that mission and commended the tribe for its work.

Riley, a third generation “trash man,” is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who owned trash collection services.

Also speaking at the event was Ferrella March, who heads the tire-recycling program for the state. She praised the tribe for its effort in collecting old tires.

The Shawnee started tire recycling two years ago and has seen much growth in public participation. March, a former employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the tribe does a good job of preserving natural resources, citing its efforts in clean water.

Jeanette Nance, director of Keep Oklahoma Beautiful, said the program is active in all 77 counties and that it’s partners like the Eastern Shawnee that make the program successful.

Accepting the award for the tribe was Chief Glenna Wallace. She recognized the many employees of the tribe who are involved in their EPA division and gave them credit for the work. She also credited Roxanne Weldon, now retired, for putting the program on the right path. “For 14 years, she set the goals and set the standard for us. She made our recycling program a much stronger department.”

For the tribe, Wallace said, recycling is a way of life. She always is looking for a group that is doing  something special with the environment. When she finds something, she asks her environmental people, “If they can do it, then why can't we?”

Wallace noted that Seneca is in a floodplain, but since the tribe started recycling, especially old tires, floodwaters have been much cleaner downtown.

The tribe offers recycling programs that are free to the public. On designated days, people can bring tires, electronics or paper for recycling. “We want to be a service to people,” Wallace said.