Rebecca Jim is the founder of Local Environmental Action Demanded (LEAD) in Northeast Oklahoma. She is an activist who fights for environmental justice for Tribal nations including the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, the Quapaw Nation and her own Cherokee Nation. LEAD works to educate the community on environmental concerns, counter environmental hazards that put residents at risk, and partner with other environmental organizations throughout Oklahoma and the nation. Ms. Jim also serves on the Board of Directors for the Anthropocene Alliance.
Ms. Jim came to Northeast Oklahoma to pursue her career as a middle and high-school counselor. She graduated from Southern Colorado State College, now Colorado State University-Pueblo, spending her last two years on the Southern Ute Reservation in Ignacio, Colorado, through Teacher Corps, a federally funded program for low-income areas. Then she went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern State College, in Tahlequah, now Northeastern Oklahoma State University. While in Oklahoma, Ms. Jim’s became involved fighting for residents dealing with health effects from the Tar Creek Superfund site, a lead and zinc mining area supplying raw materials for bullets in both WWI and WWII. The area is still dominated by piles of tailings, called “chat,” that are up to 200 feet high and have lead levels up to 15,000 parts per million (ppm), which far exceeds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard for lead in soil. The lead contamination has had a disproportionate effect on native communities. For her work associated with Tar Creek, Ms. Jim was named the official Tar Creekkeeper in 2016 by the Waterkeeper Alliance and awarded the Terry Backer award in 2018.
Reception to follow.