My name is Tara Hocker and I am the Director of the Office of Environmental Management. I am a member of the Navajo Nation, Walker-River Paiute, and Washoe Tribe. I am passionate about environmental justice and socioeconomic resilience. I have gained knowledge of the importance of tribal sovereignty, cultural importance of usufructuary rights, and cultural ecological knowledge. In my culture there is esoteric teachings of Mother Earth for a Navajo woman. It is taught at a young age to have reverence and practice “ke,” kinship with our environment by maintaining a spiritual relationship that requires you to acknowledge all four directions and give daily appreciation for basic elements of life. As a youth, I participated in the Native Americans in Biological Sciences Summer Camp at OSU from 1993 to 1996. It was funded by a Howard Hughes grant. I studied ecology, ethnobotany, hydrology & water management, biology, micro-biology, and agricultural science. I’ve worked in science labs under the guidance of scientist’s and conducted DNA tests, water testing, and other testing samples to gather and collect research data. It was a valuable learning experience that made me aware of my environment. I grew up on the Navajo reservation and carried water daily from a near-by stream and by truck filling water barrels from windmills. I lived close to an abandoned uranium mine and became concerned about air, water, soil, and the quality of livestock (sheep, horses, and cattle). I helped my grandparents irrigate alfalfa fields, plant a vegetable & fruit garden, and assisted with the fall harvest. Environmental issues affecting my tribal community inspired me to study Federal Indian Law. It inspired me to make a difference in the management of natural resources and the environment by having knowledge of federal, state, local laws, regulations, codes, policies, and procedures related to environmental management and environmental activities on Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma tribal land jurisdiction.
I hold a:
• Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law degree
• Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Business
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Secondary Education
• Associate of Applied Science degree in Pre-Education
• Minor in Marketing
I am a:
• Certified Human Resource Technician
• Oklahoma Public Notary
• Certified Child Welfare Specialist
• Two years of work experience working for a non-profit in tribal land management, tribal economic development, agriculture, compliance ensuring permits, licenses, and training were up-to-date.
• I have four years of classroom experience studying biology, physical science, chemistry, and Environmental Law in Indian Country.
My main objectives for the OEM Department are to create a new Environmental Assessment that will give us new data on the environmental compliance of the worst polluters in and near our tribal jurisdiction. We will also consult with the area law firm on updating the Ponca Tribe Environmental Regulatory Act.