Mercury Tribal Health
Fish serve an important dietary and cultural role in many Native communities throughout California. Unfortunately, both wild-caught and store-bought fish can be contaminated with mercury and other chemicals like PCBs. These chemicals can affect the health and development of the fetus, infants and young children. Exposure can lead to permanent learning disabilities, an increase in type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life. Information provided by agencies to consumers is often outdated or confusing.
Within our Tribal Self-Advocacy Program CIEA affirms that California Tribes should guide decision-making in all cases where agencies, organizations or groups are planning or conducting activities that affect California Indian people, traditional territories or any resources that affect cultural traditions, means of subsistence and environmental health.
CIEA’s Native Youth Environmental Leadership Program (NYELP) provides students and community members with valuable experience to address environmental toxins affecting Native communities and pathways to academic success. Through the program, we encourage participants to explore careers in the environmental sciences, health sciences, public policy and environmental law fields.
Indigenous Peoples from all over the world suffer disproportionate impacts from mercury contamination. Mercury is a neurotoxin that bioaccumulates in fish and negatively affects the mental and physical development of babies and children. These effects continue on to adulthood and impact all Indigenous life-ways and livelihoods. Fish are not only important for our subsistence and health but also for our social, cultural and spiritual well-being. This is true for California Tribes.