Monday, January 26, 2009

Native Alert: New forest rules on plant gathering


1. Urge President Obama to Withdraw the Forest Service Special Forest Products Rule!
(courtesy of Jennifer Kalt, California Indian Basketweavers Association)

On Dec. 22, the U.S. Forest Service issued a new rule that would require permits and, in some cases, charge fees for tribal members to gather plant materials used for basketweaving, medicinal, ceremonial, and subsistence food uses. This “Midnight Regulation” is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 28, 2009.

This rule would interfere with Native Americans’ traditional gathering practices for plants of cultural importance. This new rule conflicts with existing laws and policies, as well as local agreements that protect Native American religious freedom and cultural traditions. The rule will be costly to administer, and unfair to Native people.
What you can do:
Urge the Obama Administration to suspend the Forest Service's final rule on Special Forest Products -- please call or write today! For more information, contact Jennifer Kalt at or visit

Sample letter/talking points are below —(rewording and adding your own personal perspective and experience is always good):

"I urge you to suspend the “Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products” (36 CFR Parts 223 and 261; RIN 0596-AB81). Withdrawal of this rule until review and reconciliation with existing laws and policies will honor the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes and individual Indians, and will maintain the relationships with Tribes that the Forest Service has worked so hard to promote."

1. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Dawn Charging, Office of Native American Programs
Tom Vilsak, Secretary of Agriculture

2. U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs: (202) 224-2251
Chair, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-North Dakota):
Vice Chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska):
Committee Member: Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington:

3. Chief Abigail Kimbell, USDA Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, DC 20090-6090
(800) 832-1355
(202) 205-1661

4. U.S. Congress: Find your Representative:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-CA:

5. The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
(202) 456-1111

2. Deployment of Renewable Energy in Indian Country (courtesy of Lizana Pierce, Dept. of Energy)
DOE's Tribal Energy Program has issued a Request for Information (RFI).
Under this RFI, the DOE is seeking information from Tribes and other
parties interested in the deployment of renewable energy in Indian
Country in the contiguous 48 States. The information in response to the
six (6) questions in the attached RFI document will be used by DOE for
internal planning and decision making purposes relative to future
activities under DOE's Tribal Energy Program.

The purpose of this Request for Information (RFI) is solely for
consideration in determining the barriers to renewable energy deployment
and the most beneficial and efficient way for DOE to help accelerate the
deployment of renewable energy in Indian Country

A copy of the RFI is attached or can be downloaded from 6EEB2D?
OpenDocument by scrolling to the bottom of the page under "Full
Announcement and Other Files" for a link to the actual document.

3. Tribal Projects in the Stimulus Package
Congress and President-Obama are in the process of developing economic stimulus legislation that will provide hundreds of billions of dollars for “shovel-ready” State infrastructure projects. Unfortunately, President-Obama’s stimulus proposal does not include direct funding for Tribal Governments to use in the hundreds of Tribal infrastructure projects that are shovel ready.

Tribal Leaders and others supportive of fair and equitable treatment in the economic stimulus package are encouraged to write President-Obama to urge him to honor the government-to-government relationship with Tribes, to treat Tribes fairly and to include a Tribal component in the economic stimulus legislation as recommended by the National Congress of American Indians, the Intertribal Transportation Association and other Tribal advocates.

For more information and to obtain a sample letter to send to President-Obama, please contact Jennifer Thomas at Sonosky, Chambers, Sachse, Endreson and Perry, LLP at or Gwen Salt at the National Congress of American Indians at

"Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things."

"Now our minds are one."

-- Thankgiving Address, Haudenosaunee

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Western Shoshone face Barrick Gold in federal court


Article and photos @ Lisa J. Wolf, Correspondent
January 25, 2009
Reno, Nevada
Censored News

RENO -- Western Shoshone upholding the sanctity of Mt. Tenabo led prayers and drumming at 8 a.m. outside the Federal District Court House in Reno, Tuesday, January 20th. The Western Shoshone held signs for passing traffic and news media as prayers and drumming were led by Western Shoshone, Ted Howard.

As President Obama was being inaugurated in Washington, D.C., the Shoshone and their opponents met in the standing-room-only court chambers of Judge Hicks at 9 a.m. to argue for a Preliminary Injunction to stop Barrick Gold from proceeding with its Cortez Hills project on Mt. Tenabo.

Attorneys for Defendants Barrick Gold; and Justice Department attorneys representing the Bureau of Land Management faced Roger Flynn and Jeff Persons representing the South Fork Band Council of Western Shoshone; Timbisha Shoshone Tribe; Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Mine Watch before Judge Larry R. Hicks of U.S. District Court, District of Nevada in Reno. A Joint Stipulation signed December 11th was due to expire Friday, January 23rd (the last date of the hearing) and has been extended to Monday, January 26th at 3:00 at which time Judge Hicks will make a ruling on the Preliminary Injunction and determine the merits of the case.

Central to the Shoshone’s case is the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act [RFRA] passed in 1993, which prohibits the federal government from placing a ‘substantial burden’ on a person’s exercise of religion unless the government’s action furthers a ‘compelling government interest’ or ‘is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling government interest.’

In the case of Navajo Nation vs. USFS, the en banc [all the judges assembled] 9th District Court recently ruled, "substantial burden" is imposed only when individuals are forced to choose between following the tenets of their religion and receiving a governmental benefit or coerced to act contrary to their religious beliefs by the threat of civil or criminal sanctions.”

The en banc Court reversed a ruling by 3 judges of the Court who had ruled in the tribes’ favor and chose to rule against the Hopi, Havasupai and Navajos and other tribes who object to wastewater snow being sprayed on the San Francisco Peaks. The Court held the only effect of the wastewater snow “is on the plaintiffs’ subjective, emotional religious experience. That is, the presence of recycled wastewater on the peaks is offensive to the plaintiffs’ religious sensibilities …the diminishment of spiritual fulfillment – serious though it may be – is not a ‘substantial burden’ on the free exercise of religion.” In dismissing the case, the court called the plaintiffs’ religious objections mere “damaged spiritual feelings.”

However, the Navajo Nation and other interested parties filed a petition Friday, January 23rd with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the precedent setting case to protect sacred sites and religious practices. The Court is expected to decide in April or May whether it will hear the case.

The shadow of the San Francisco Peaks case decision loomed over the lawyers in the Mt. Tenabo case as they presented their RFRA arguments within the perspective of the 9th District Court’s statements in the Snowbowl case. Any subsequent determinations by the Supreme Court could also therefore effect the rulings in this case.

The first witness for the Shoshone Plaintiffs was Shawn Collins, an enrolled member of the Te-Moak tribe who has worked 23 years for Newmont as an equipment operator. Collins said, “Mining is good” and that he’s a third generation miner following his father and grandfather. Collins’ great grandmother was “born there at Cortez” and of 5 sisters, “4 for sure were born in that area, Denabo.” [Shoshone plaintiffs pronounce the name of the mountain with a ‘d’ rather than a ‘t’].

Collins said the markings on the White Cliff area were put there by “our Father” and are “laws we have to go by.” Collins’ personal childhood memories include going with his grandparents and family when he was 5 or 6 to gather pine nuts. Indian doctor, healer, runs through Collins’ family line and Mt. Tenabo, said Collins is “where our power comes from.”

Collins said as a young boy he camped at the old Cortez mine site and gathered paint and food. When Collins was diagnosed with cancer in 2002 “being Newe [what the Shoshone call themselves],” Collins took care of his “emotional, spiritual side” and to “go cleanse myself went “to a gentleman from Montana,” a Blackfoot, and paid him “tobacco and a Pendleton blanket.” They smoked a pipe and the medicine man told Collins he was going to take him out of his body to “your holy place” where his and Collins’ helpers would be. Collins “touched down on earth” on the North side of Mt. Tenabo and saw the spirits of a man and 4 elderly Shoshone ladies including his grandmother who “started throwing dirt on me.” When Collins was ready he stood up and shook himself “off like a buffalo.” His blood tests are clear.

Collins’ feels the spirits of his ancestors reside in the mountain and the Creator “put the writing on the rocks.” Collins runs the Shoshone sweat lodge on Mt. Tenabo. “My family’s power resides on that mountain,” said Collins.

Collins sees the water in Tenabo as “earth blood” and “like us, if we lose our blood, we go.” Then the “spirits on the mountain would leave” and for him and his family the “circle of life” is “broken.” For Collins, “That’s where my family came from.” The Pediment area where the mine is proposed is “Tenabo’s foot” which is “part of the body.” The mine “would be harmful, a wound that won’t heal. The pit will always be there.”

Next Ted Howard, Cultural Resources Director for the Duckwater Shoshone, testified to the significance of Mt. Tenabo. Howard said over the years he’s been to Tenabo some “15 to 20 times” to “pray to the Cliffs.”

Barrick attorney Francis Wickstrom pointed out Howard is a member of the Duck Valley band which is “not a plaintiff in this action” and that neither Howard nor the Duck Valley Tribe made comment to the BLM during the EIS process. Wickstrom noted that Western Shoshone Elder Bill Rossi in the forward to now-deceased Shoshone Spiritual Elder Corbin Harney’s book stated, “The whole earth is our church” and noted that in Harney’s book and Howard’s neighbor Stephen Crumb’s book there was “not one mention of Mt. Tenabo.” Wickstrom asked if Howard was “aware of any book that mentions Mt. Tenabo?”

Howard said, “Just because not mentioned, doesn’t mean not important.”

Wickstrom noted the Western Shoshone National Council served notice to Barrick in December of 2008 that they hold “spiritual gatherings on any land.”

Howard said he did not agree with that.

Wickstrom asked Howard if the Cortez Hills project would force him to do something against his religion. Howard responded the “water table will drop” and “all life will die.” Wickstrom said, “If the spring doesn’t dry up, your fear will not be realized.”

Flynn showed a picture of what the Cortez Hills pit would look like and characterized the proposed impact as “destruction” rather than “diminishment.”

Te-Moak Tribe member Joyce McDade of Gooding, Idaho said her family was originally from Ruby Valley and saw Indian doctors at Tompkin Springs “down the road from the gathering site.” Those visits entailed performing prayers and healing with water, bathing, “sweat lodges and vision quests and things like that.” McDade said “4 years ago” she “came down with ovarian cancer” and “came to Mt. Tenabo to seek for my Creator to heal me.” McDade is “completely healed.”

In addition, McDade said two weeks before Thanksgiving she couldn’t walk but was able to get out of her car and “walked up and down the hill” on Tenabo “for 2 days.” McDade acknowledged she goes to other mountains for ceremonies but said, “Tenabo has a lot of power” and feels “energy when I’m up there.” The mine project said McDade would be “spiritual genocide, murdering Mother Earth.”

Linking the opposition to the mining project to the desire of some Western Shoshone to reclaim their ancestral lands, Wickstrom referred to McDade’s comments submitted to the BLM which stated, “You are on Western Shoshone territory. Back off.” McDade acknowledged she is opposed to any mining in that area.

Costello of the Justice Department pointed out McDade never shared her “particular religious views with the BLM” and Wickstram moved to dismiss which Hicks took under advisement. Thus ended Day 1 and the presentation of the Plaintiff’s witnesses. On days 2 and 3 from 9 to 5 witnesses for Barrick and the BLM testified.

Dr. Donald Hardesty, professor of anthropology and archaeology at UNR testified regarding the history of Mt. Tenabo from 1863 when a “prospecting party from Austin and Reese River” came searching for “precious metal bearing deposits reported in legend.” The first mine, the St. Louis Camp, was at the northern end of the White Cliffs of Mt. Tenabo. Ore from the St. Louis mine went by mule to the Keystone Mill in Austin and then to the mill constructed in Mill Canyon where there was water and pinon juniper. Cortez City was described by the Austin newspaper as having 6 buildings including a blacksmith shop and machine shop, and lodging facilities and as many as 50 people lived there. Mugginsville or Shoshone Wells, established in 1863, had 50 structures and between 100 to 150 ethnically diverse people including Cornish and Welsh miners, Italians and Chinese. By 1870 the largest population was Chinese. Hardesty found a reference to Western Shoshone housekeepers.

By 1886 the Cortez town site had 4 to 500 people (larger than the present population of Crescent Valley), a boarding house, company store, residences, post office and school.

90% of the forest on the Pediment of Mt. Tenabo was harvested in the late 1800s meaning all trees there now are second growth.

Hardesty testified to 20 to 30 miles of underground mine tunnels in Tenabo. Until 1938 mining continued on Tenabo, which in 1929 was the top silver producer in the country.

Tenabo saw little activity in the 1940s and 50s but the 1960s marked a new period of exploration and 1968 saw the construction of a leaching and roasting facility in Crescent Valley and the first open pit in 1969.

Hardesty noted Native archaeological sites date back 5,000 years but from 1862 there are a limited number of sites on Tenabo associated with Native Americans although “documents mention Western Shoshone working on salt works south of that region.” Hardesty noted records showed the Round Mountain mine was “more than 60% Western Shoshone.” Hardesty saw no evidence of conflicts with Shoshone in the Tenabo area in the 1860s.

Attorney Flynn noted previous mining had impacted 132 acres while the new mine covers 835.

Barrick’s next witness, Chairwoman Diane Buckner of the Ely Shoshone tribe, described the Western Shoshone Defense Project as a “small group opposing the Western Shoshone distribution bill and now opposing mine sites.”

Buckner said until a Barrick tour, she was “not familiar with Mt. Tenabo” and only heard “of its significance” when she “heard of objection to the mine site.”

Buckner said there was “no place” she was aware of necessary to “go to have spiritual needs met” and said if the mine is built it will not prohibit her spiritual practice. Buckner noted Ely is a “mining community” and when mines shut down Shoshones “cannot provide for our families.” Buckner “believes Barrick should be allowed to proceed.”

Jerry Millet, Tribal Chairman of the Duckwater Shoshone, said Mt. Tenabo is a significant and established religious and cultural site “to some individuals but not to everyone” and does not agree that Tenabo holds a central place in Western Shoshone religious belief and world view. Millet said, “We as Shoshone have our own special places. There isn’t a centralized location.”

Millet and his tribe “work for Barrick” doing reclamation work and will be economically impacted if the mine doesn’t go forward. The Duckwater Tribe owns a tracking company which contracts with Barrick.

Brian Mason, a Shoshone Paiute from Duck Valley who works at the Ruby Mill Mine, said his grandmother was born in Cortez in the 1880s and was raised for a time at the Dean Ranch in Crescent Valley. When Mason went with a group of Duck Valley Shoshone on a pine nut harvest organized by Placer Dome and got to see reclamation work he “thought I wanted to be part of that” and now works for Barrick as an environmental engineer.

Among other responsibilities, Mason looks for harvestable stands of pine nuts and notifies “tribal leadership.” When Shoshone then come to gather pine nuts, Mason and Barrick help set up camp and help Elders “who couldn’t reach the nuts, get them down.” Mason has not seen second-growth trees in the Pediment area capable of producing pine nuts and said to his knowledge Barrick has never denied access for Western Shoshone to gather pine nuts on Mt. Tenabo.

Anthropologist and ethnographer, Dr. Lynne Sebastian was asked by Barrick “to look at the ethnographic and historical literature on Western Shoshone in terms of religious beliefs and practices” and “association between physical” sites and practices. Sebastian held that “the ethnographic literature does not support” the special significance of Mt. Tenabo. “In all of the 64/65 sources of ethnographic sources” she read there “was not a single mention anywhere of Mt. Tenabo prior to 1992 and there was no mention of this mountain in any of those sources that are not directly associated with the development of the EIS for the Cortez mine.”

While the Plaintiffs maintain that Mt. Tenabo is the source of ‘puha,’ Sebastian noted, “This is the power, the life force that runs through the whole earth” which “makes the whole earth sacred” and from “what’s been told to ethnographers over the last 150 years” doesn’t “have a source” and “doesn’t emanate from anywhere.” The “main thing that concentrates the power is water” and “all mountains in the Western Shoshone homeland is the place where power is concentrated because mountains conduct water” and “are places where power is concentrated, but they are not its source.”

The first time Sebastian saw reference to Mt. Tenabo was in the 2002 report for the exploration project.

When Flynn asked Sebastian whether she was questioning the sincerity of the Plaintiff’s religious beliefs, Sebastian answered she had “no reason to question the sincerity of anyone in the courtroom.”

Robert Wilcox of Carlin, General Drill Foreman for Barrick, has been responsible for the 100 to 150 people working on the Cortez Hills Expansion over the last 6 years. Wilcox said other than a Shoshone gathering in 2002 “down around the old town site,” he had seen no activity of Western Shoshone people in and around the Pediment area in the last ten years and that no one has been denied access to Mt. Tenabo.

Barrick’s David Mason of Crescent Valley, Security Director for the mine site since 1994, has a team of 15 full-time security personnel. Roving patrols on both the day and night shift “report anything unusual” and control access. Employees and visitors receive safety training. Operators drive on the “wrong side of the road.” Mason pays attention to who’s coming on and off the property as required by Federal laws.

Since the announcement of the Cortez Hills project and the permitting process, Mason said “a lot more Western Shoshone Defense Project have been in the area” and said there have been “a couple of incidents” including a “drilling incident in Horse Canyon” where someone got in a Barrick employee’s face while “filming down into the new project.” Mason acknowledged an increase in traffic in the Cortez Pediment area and noted the Shoshone have an “area set up where they have a tent and another structure they’re building.”

Mason said there have been incidents since November 2008 where work had to shut down. Mason acknowledged Shoshone supporters have “walked onto an area we were working” which is then “shut down for safety” since persons “either have to be trained or given a tour guide.” Mason said, “Never have we denied access;” rather it is “policy to help and assist others to get where they’re going.”

Flynn attempted to find what security measures might be taken against a trespasser who refused to take training and all Mason would say is that they would shut down operations and contact management.

Judge Hicks asked “if a Western Shoshone or anyone wanted to access Horse Canyon or the old mine site” what the “means of access besides the haul road” is and was told Old Cortez can be accessed by the public by taking the Lander County highway up to Grass Valley to the JD Ranch Road to the Horse Canyon access.

Barrick witness Mary Lou McAlexander of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe said she was “taught to respect the land” and had a “God-given right to use and put it back the best we can” and to “be thankful for what we have” and “don’t forget to thank our Creator God.” McAlexander when asked about Elders said, “I am one of those Elders.”

McAlexander worked off the reservation for 13 years as a surgical nurse before becoming health coordinator on the Reservation and went from a $16,000 budget and trips to Owyhee for health care once a month to a clinic with a budget of over $2 million. McAlexander and her husband run MI Enterprises which does environmental reclamation for Barrick, has a pesticide license and a seed farm project. Seed is gathered and used for reclamation plants. In addition, McAlexander’s company provides maintenance for the archaeologists, putting up tents and making sure they’re heated.

Of 9 full and part-time employees, the McAlexanders “presently don’t have any Western Shoshone;” but McAlexander who also works with the BLM wants “to put seed farms in on other reservations.”

If the “Cortez Hills Project stopped my business would probably stop,” and “would take opportunities away from many Western Shoshone.” If so, McAlexander hoped “Obama has a good welfare system in place.”

McAlexander said Barrick is “very open to work with small businesses” and appreciated the “scholarship fund” since “my boy’s gone to school because of the scholarship fund.”

Mt. Tenabo holds no special significance for McAlexander who said, “At times I get very angry a few people could be jeopardizing our livelihood” and stated, “As far as religion,” she was taught it can be done anywhere. McAlexander’s father taught her “to be good to my neighbor and treat everyone with respect” and the “biggest part is taking care of your family” and working “hard to provide for your family.”

George Fennemore, Cortez Hills Permit Manager, testified the public will have free and unrestricted access to Shoshone Wells through a new county road and will be able reach the old Cortez Town Site, Arctic Canyon and Garrison as the route changes but remains unrestricted. Access to the top of Mt. Tenabo and Mill Canyon will also be unrestricted. The White Cliffs can be reached through Arctic Canyon with no restrictions, no fence, no MSHA, no security clearance.

Of 116 archaeological sites within the project area, Fennemore said “fewer than 10 are related to the Western Shoshone” and are primarily “lithic scatters, stone remains that come off of tools” which will be “mitigated as required.”

Fennemore said in 1981 during the process for the original permit there was no religious use objections; nor were any such objections made in 1986 or 1987 or in the 1992 pipeline objection which focused on dewatering from a cultural perspective.

Fennemore confirmed the juniper in the affected area is too young to produce pine nuts and said no flowing springs would be physically disrupted by the mine facility.

Barrick holds the water rights to Shoshone Wells which has been monitored quarterly since 2001 and has a flow of 1 to 2 gallons a minute maximum to as low as a half gallon a minute.

No one knows if pit dewatering will affect Shoshone Well Spring since the connection between deeper water several 100 feet below ground and spring water is unknown.

Barrick is required to monitor the spring and if an effect on the groundwater and reduction in spring flow are seen to implement mitigation. Fennemore said “waste dumps were designed to not affect seeps” which will be monitored and mitigated. Fennemore said 25 representatives from the Te-Moak and Duck Valley tribes are working as observers on the site although if the project doesn’t go forward they won’t be.

Flynn noted that the groundwater will not recover within 100 years due to the 8 years of dewatering in which 16.5 billion gallons will be removed from Mt. Tenabo at a rate of 2 to 8,000 gallons a minute. Of the 50,200 acre feet of.proposed dewatering, 80% will be returned to the ground water basin in Crescent Valley.

William L. Wilson of Grand Junction, Colorado, a royalty holder in the Cortez Hills Mine, staked the original claims to the Cortez projects from April of 1961 to 1968 and lived in a travel trailer parked at Shoshone Wells 5 days a week. Wilson got water from the “little spring” and “put plastic polyethylene pipe” to his travel trailer. “No one came and asked to use water for religious purposes,” said Wilson. It was just him “and wildlife.”

Wilson “lived out there from 1961 to 1968 pretty much full time” and in the 1970s “did consulting work for Cortez Gold” and in the 1980s assisted with the exploration of Horse Canyon and hunted deer and chukars on Mt. Tenabo. He saw no Western Shoshone in the area he and his brother worked.

Daniel Banghart, Project Manager for the Cortez Hills Project, will be responsible for the 15 month construction phase. $290 million has been spent as well as $90 million on exploration and $290 million remains to be spent to complete construction. The daily cash burn rate for construction is $240,000 and if the project moves forward as planned will require $640,000 a day for 15 months.

New employees include project team and underground miners (90) and contractors secured (around 50) with approximately 300 workers. About 80 former Jerritt Canyon miners were hired. Of the total new Barrick jobs, 40 are associated with surface work, 100 with underground miners in addition to the 100 employees already employed for a total of 250 jobs; which Banghart characterized as “high paying with excellent benefits and health insurance.” Banghart said there are currently 25 Western Shoshone on the payroll.

If Barrick can’t start work on the open pit by the end of the month they’ll run out of mill feed ore starting February 1. By the second quarter of 2010, they’d be out of mill feed and talking about laying off those 100 employees, many of whom live in Crescent Valley and Elko.

Banghart said 15 months is the time it will take to “get down there” to where the ore is.

Work on the leach pad was shut down and demobilized because of the stipulated court order. Banghart doesn’t want to see the work pushed out into the summer causing loss of another season.

Barrick has spent $380 million and will spend $290 million more. Banghart said the impact to Barrick is “100s of 1,000s of dollars a day in lost revenue.”

In cross examination, Flynn pointed out the 9.6 million ounces of gold expected to be recovered could show a $7 or $8 billion income as opposed to $700 million in capital investment.

Banghart said Flynn’s estimates were “not close to accurate” since the company does not operate for free; rather gold costs Barrick $500 an ounce to produce. Banghart acknowledged, “No doubt it is a very attractive project.”

Flynn pointed out that if the court issues an injunction the gold “is not going anywhere” and the “revenue stream will be there when the injunction is lifted.”

Contracts were signed with contractors the second half of 2008 prior to the BLM’s Record of Decision and before project approval even though Banghart anticipated the ROD would be challenged. Flynn noted the Company “still went ahead and made contracts.”

“Yes,” said Banghart, “I can explain.”

“That’s okay,” said Flynn and did not permit the explanation.

Flynn offered that workers laid off could be rehired. Banghart said, “That would be the hope” although since they’re “going without pay” he’d “like them to go find work.” Not only would the new workers have no employment, if the new mine doesn’t come on within two years, pipeline employees will be laid off as well.

Russ Harvey, Area Manager for Ames Construction’s Northern Nevada offices in Carlin said Ames has 120 employees in Northern Nevada and has 3 contracts for Cortez Hills including site preparation and work on the underground facilities. Ames is to do the earthwork for the conveyor and crusher; the relocation of County Road 225 including constructing the new county road and doing the earthworks and blasting through rock. In addition Ames has a concrete contract. The total value of the 3 contracts is $34 million, which Harvey said is the “most significant contract we have now.”

“Some areas we cannot work” because of the injunction said Harvey who noted 13% of the work is completed. Ames started on the conveyor corridor October 1st and has mobilized the earth-working equipment. Ames had hired 25 people who were “subsequently laid off when the injunction was filed.” If the project is suspended or halted the majority of the work force would be laid off in a bad economy with construction down.

Ames mobilized a fleet of scrapers, 8 haul mine trucks, 6 to 8 loaders all of which are on site. Some of the equipment would go back to rental agencies while others might be sold in a bad market for heavy equipment.

Ames has expended $1.5 million on site and has $6.5 million in purchase orders waiting for shipping instructions.

Flynn asked if Barrick informed Ames the project would be challenged. Harvey said, “Yes.” Flynn asked what steps were taken “to protect the company’s well-being?”

Harvey said they “could do nothing to protect” themselves.

Richard Katsma of the Lamoille Construction Company specializing in Civil Engineering has $9.3 million in contracts and 60 to 70 employees involved including some Western Shoshone. The Company has 30 to 35 pieces of equipment on site worth $800,000 to $1 million per piece and Barrick is not paying stand-by costs. The cost to Lamoille Construction is $330,000 per month. If Cortez Hills doesn’t proceed, with debt the company will “survive 45 days and then liquidate.”

Katsma acknowledged Barrick told the company the project would be challenged and still signed contracts a month before the project was approved by the BLM.

Barrick also presented depositions from Ruby Mountain Construction of Elko and Dean Conley of Conley Enterprises which has a subcontract to erect fence around the project worth $560,000 and is “stretching to keep employees on roll.” Spencer Porter of Spring Creek’s Pole Line Contractors has power line contracts worth $2.5 million and said a preliminary injunction would be devastating.

Dr. John Dolbert of UNR Reno quantified and determined the direct economic impacts if the project is delayed 1 or 2 years during the construction phase including taxes, employee compensation and the cost of delay. Dolbert looked at state and local taxes as well as areas where the community benefits from activities at the Cortez Hills site.

Dolbert took the flows of Barrick expenditures based on “the net present value of today then shifted out 1 year.” A 1 year construction delay according to Dolbert would involve $2.6 million for construction loss; $5.9 million in lost taxes and $50.8 million in compensation for a 1 year total of $59.3 “loss to the community, not Barrick.” A two year delay would be “a little more than doubled.”

Michaek Alastuey, Director of Public Policy and Analysis with Applied Analysis quantified economic impacts to state and local government, isolating major taxes with net proceeds at 5% and including sales and use taxes as well as real and personal property tax and modified business or payroll tax. A 6 month delay would have a $14.7 million impact on “all sources and entities” with a disproportionate impact on Lander County. Alastuey predicted $31.5 million in 1 year losses to State and local government and of $46.2 million after 24 months.

Finally Gerald “Jerry” Marvin Smith, District Manager of the Battle Mountain BLM took the stand.

Smith said he and his staff examined the RFRA issues associated with the project and discussed whether there would be a burden to the exercise of religion and if the burden would be substantial and that no individuals would be forced to act contrary to their beliefs. It remains Smith’s conclusion that the Final EIS and Record of Decision comply with RFRA, FLPMA and other challenged regulatory requirements.

Flynn asked Smith how many mining Plan of Operations were approved under his watch and Smith said in 13 years, 8 major EIS POA’s were approved and over 150 POA’s associated with EA’s. He noted POA’s could be for exploration.

When asked how many were rejected, Smith couldn’t think of any.

Friday morning, Flynn began his closing argument first. “This case is about one big mine, very destructive mine and about one special, and very unique and important place;” a “place so important that people travel 100s of miles to pray to their Creator.” While Tenabo “may not be special to all Western Shoshone people it is special to many.”

Flynn maintained the mine would cause “irreparable and permanent damage” with the “2,000 foot deep hole in the body of Mt. Tenabo” and a “lake in the pit [that] will violate water quality.” Shoshone people said Flynn will be prevented from returning to the area for prayer and dewatering Tenabo “will kill the mountain, drain its blood, remove its spirit, remove its power.”

Flynn said, “This case is about money, billions of dollars of profit for Barrick,” the world’s largest mining company and Flynn acknowledged the economic benefit to Nevada. “In troubled times,” said Flynn, “we must hold onto the values and beliefs that rise above and come to the forefront when we have national troubles.” Flynn cited the belief that “every American’s beliefs should be protected under the law” and that “it’s the rule of law that people have the right to challenge and stop illegal government actions” and claimed “BLM has violated the law.”

Flynn said, “The BLM never denied in the region” so “why would they start now?” Flynn reiterated the charge that BLM had violated FLPMA’s requirements and has the obligation to disapprove the undue and unnecessary degradation to public land caused by a 2000 foot mine pit.

After reiterating what he saw as the BLM’s violations, Flynn said, “Economic interests don’t outweigh the law.” Regarding massive harms to Barrick, Flynn said as of 2008 Barrick has 124 million ounces of gold in reserve world-wide while this project has 8 million ounces, “5% of Barrick’s reserves.” Flynn sympathizes with the contractors who signed before the project was approved and characterized Barrick as having made a “calculated business decision” knowing “this would be challenged. Rush, rush, rush and then argue everybody gets laid off.”

Flynn characterized the Mt. Tenabo mine as “one place the BLM should have denied.”

Costello for the BLM argued Flynn failed to establish the RFRA claim and noted access will remain to Horse Canyon, Arctic Canyon, the White Cliffs and cultural resources sites. Federal land use “does not satisfy 100% of the people all the time,” said Costello and cannot “satisfy every citizen’s needs and desires.”

Justice Department Attorney Dawn Fitzgerald argued that the BLM properly applied all government regulations and requirements including FLPMA and air quality standards. Fitzgerald said the BLM spent significant time and energy in analyzing and did appropriate consultation reflected by several volumes of data and analysis in the EIS.

Fitzgerald took issue with Flynn’s notion that “BLM never disapproved a mine in this area.” What “was not elicited was whether BLM has not changed or modified” plans of operation. “The idea that BLM just rubber stamps is not true.”

Wickstrom in the closing argument for Barrick said “among many disputed issues” every “witness, plaintiff or defendant” agreed that “no one speaks for all the Western Shoshone” and argued that the evidence does not satisfy RFRA. Wickstrom said, “Even if the ability of Indians to practice in that area were completely destroyed,” that is “not sufficient burden” as witnesses conceded they “wouldn’t be coerced or engage in practices against their religion” despite “noise, dust and other things” that cause a “subjective diminution of religious experience.”

Wickstrom noted Tenabo is being presented as a “pristine mountain used solely for religious purposes” while it is “one of the most extensively mined mountains in Nevada” with “mining the dominant use of the area for 145 years.” Wickstrom described the mountain as “swiss cheese with 25 miles of underground workings” and reiterated that there had been no “evidence up until recent years that Western Shoshone asserted” the mountain “had religious uses being interfered with;” and reminded the Court that when Bill Wilson “lived there during the 60s to 80s, saw no Western Shoshone out there or claimed he was appropriating their sacred waters.”

To Flynn’s suggestion that the economic distress is “basically a self-inflicted wound Barrick took in a calculated move,” Wickman responded that Barrick expected the permit would issue because the company had “complied with the law, dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’.” Entering into contracts was necessitated by “long lead times to order special equipment” and with “everything time critical” the Company had “to move.”

Stopping the project will bring “devastating harm to Northern Nevada and all of Nevada,” said Wickstrom as he asked the Court to allow the project to proceed.

Flynn countered that they are not “making this up” and that Tenabo has unique significance to Western Shoshone and that “illegal government action should be violated and stopped.”

Hicks who heard testimony from 9: a.m. Tuesday until adjourning at 12:15 on Friday, January 23rd will announce his decision Monday at 3 o’clock and expects to follow-up with a written decision.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barack Obama's Principles for Stronger Tribal Communities


“Perhaps more than anyone else, the Native American community faces huge challenges that have been ignored by Washington for too long. It is time to empower Native Americans in the development of the national policy agenda.” Barack Obama

The hundreds of Indian tribes in America face a unique set of challenges. Issues like sovereignty, health care, and education—issues that are central to tribes’ future prosperity and embedded in the federal government’s responsibility—are often neglected. Barack Obama is committed to tribal nation building and enforcing the federal government’s obligations to Indian people.

SOVEREIGNTY, TRIBAL-FEDERAL RELATIONS AND THE TRUST RESPONSIBILITY: Native American tribal nations are sovereign, self-governing political entities and enjoy a government-to-government relationship with the United States federal government that is recognized expressly in the U.S. Constitution.

Self-Determination: Barack Obama supports the principle of tribal self-determination, with recognition that the federal government must honor its treaty obligations and fully enable tribal self-governance.

Consultation and Inclusion: In furtherance of the government-to-government relationship, Barack Obama will include tribal leadership in the important policy determinations that impact Indian Country. Obama will appoint an American Indian policy advisor on his senior White House staff so that Indian Country has a direct interface at the highest level of the Obama Administration. In addition, Obama will host a White House “Tribal G8” – an annual meeting with Native American leaders to develop a national Indian policy agenda.

Honoring the Trust Responsibility: Barack Obama recognizes that honoring the government-to-government relationship requires fulfillment of the United States’ trust responsibility to tribes and individual Indians. More specifically, Obama is committed to meaningful reform of the broken system that manages and administers the trust lands and other trust assets belonging to tribes and individual Indians. Further, he is committed to resolving equitably with both tribes and individual Indians litigation resulting from the past failures in the administration and accounting of their trust assets.

HEALTH CARE: The Indian Health Service estimates that it receives only 55 percent of the federal funding it requires. Federal per-capita funding for Indian health care amounts to about half of the federal per capita health funding for federal prisoners. Indians are the most at-risk minority group for health problems like diabetes, which they suffer from at a rate 249 percent higher than the national average. Moreover, Indians have the nation’s highest death rates for tuberculosis and suicide. After Haiti, men on the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Reservations in South Dakota have the lowest life expectancy in the Western Hemisphere.

Indian Health Services: Barack Obama voted in the Senate to provide an additional $1 billion for IHS to address these disparities. Additionally, he was an original cosponsor of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act of 2007 which mandates modernization of the Indian health care system and strengthens urban Indian health facilities. Obama has fought against the Bush Administration’s attempt to eliminate urban health care for Indians not living in reservation communities. Obama opposed a federal land acquisition program that would
have diverted funds from the Special Diabetes Program for Indians and the Alcohol and Substance Abuse program. Obama supports sufficient funding for IHS and proper staffing and maintenance for IHS facilities.

EDUCATION: Education is the key to improving the lives of Native Americans and empowering tribal nations to build a better future. Educational policies in the 1970s attempted to reverse past federal policies aimed at eradicating Native American languages and cultures, but Native Americans still suffer from some of the lowest high school graduation and college matriculation rates in the nation. We must continue to honor our obligations to Native Americans by providing tribes with the educational resources promised by treaty and federal law.
Indian Language Education: Tribes are struggling to preserve their languages. It is estimated that by 2050 only 20 of the over 500 Native languages once spoken will remain. Research shows that instruction in tribal language increases Native American academic performance in other areas like math and science. Barack Obama supports funding for Native language immersion and preservation programs.

No Child Left Behind: The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is the right one – ensuring that all children meet high education standards – but the law has significant flaws that need to be addressed, including in Indian Country. Unfulfilled promises, ineffective implementation, and shortcomings in the design of the law itself have created countless obstacles for tribal educators. Barack Obama would fund No Child Left Behind and reform the law to better incorporate Title VII, the law’s Indian, Hawaiian, and Alaskan education provision. Obama’s plan would provide greater flexibility in integrating Native languages, cultures, and communities into school programs in a manner consistent with principles of tribal sovereignty.

Early Childhood Education: Research shows that half of low-income children start school up to two years behind their peers in preschool skills and that these early achievement gaps continue throughout elementary school. Barack Obama supports increasing funding for the Head Start program, including the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Programs, to provide American Indian preschool children with critically important learning skills. He also appreciates the role of parental involvement in the success of Head Start and has called on states to replicate the Illinois model of Preschool for All. Tribes should also be given the opportunity to implement culturally appropriate versions of this program.

Indian School Construction: Many government-funded Indian schools are dilapidated, and many are simply too small to meet the needs of growing Indian populations. A safe, comfortable place to learn is critical to receiving a proper education. Barack Obama is committed to repairing and building Indian schools.

Tribal Colleges: Tribal colleges have played a critical role in improving the lives of Native Americans. Obama supports increased funding for operations and facility construction, as well as the removal of bureaucratic impediments so tribal colleges can thrive.

Cultural Rights and Sacred Places Protection: Native American sacred places and site-specific ceremonies are under threat from development, pollution, and vandalism. Barack Obama supports legal protections for sacred places and cultural traditions, including Native ancestors’ burial grounds and churches.

ECONOMIC & INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT: Native Americans experience some of the most severe socioeconomic conditions in the United States. Poverty and its effects are pervasive, with more than quarter of all Native Americans living in poverty and unemployment rates reaching 80 percent on some reservations. Obama’s experience as a community organizer working in poor neighborhoods plagued by high unemployment has taught him that there is no single solution to community poverty. Therefore, he supports using a comprehensive approach that includes investment in physical, human and institutional infrastructure, increased access to capital, the removal of barriers to development, and above all, authentic government-to-government relationships between the federal government and tribes.

Minimum Wage: Barack Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in poverty. In 2007, Obama supported legislation that increased the Federal minimum wage for the first time in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to $7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama will further raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, index it to inflation and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation, and housing – things so many people take for granted.

Housing: The federal government has a moral and legal responsibility to assist tribes in providing housing. Yet, Native Americans suffer from some of the worst housing conditions in the nation. Some 14 percent of all reservation homes have no electricity, and on some reservations, as many as 20 individuals are forced to live in a single-family home. Barack Obama supports increased funding for the Indian Housing Block Grant and other Indian housing programs as well as improving the effectiveness of these programs.

Gaming: The Supreme Court has upheld the right of tribes, as sovereign entities, to operate gaming operations on Indian reservations. A total of 225 of the 558 federally recognized Indian tribes operate gaming facilities, creating 670,000 jobs nationwide and paying $11 billion to the federal and state governments through taxes and other revenue. The vast majority of Indian gaming operations are small enterprises providing jobs to tribal members. Because most tribes continue to suffer from high rates of poverty and unemployment, Barack Obama believes that gaming revenues are important tribal resources for funding education, healthcare, law enforcement, and other essential government functions.

Energy: Tribal nations have joined in America’s quest for alternative, renewable energy. Because of their rural land bases and access to natural resources, many tribes have made great strides in economic development in the energy sector. Tribes have successful operations producing gas, solar, and wind energy. In addition to harnessing and producing energy, tribes have an interest in energy rights-of-way. Barack Obama encourages energy companies and Indian tribes to negotiate in good faith to ensure tribes receive just compensation and in furtherance of carrying sustainable energy to all communities.

WOMEN’S HEALTH: Indians are often subject to unusually harsh conditions when it comes to women’s health. A recent study by Amnesty International details the alarming rates at which Native women are subject to violence. The report states that one in three American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime, and they are more than three times as likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in America.

Reproductive Health: In the past, IHS has been criticized for performing forced sterilizations of Indian women. More recently, many Native women have been pushed to receive one type of contraception instead of more suitable alternatives. Although these women often have no alternative to IHS, the program often does not provide them with adequate reproductive health care, and many women are often denied equal access to birth control, and prenatal care. Barack Obama supports the reproductive health rights of American Indian women, and supports ensuring that they receive equal opportunities to make healthy reproductive choices.

Violence against Women: Violence in Indian country is committed at alarmingly high rates, and all too often Indian women are the victims. Medical facilities are few and far between, and are often not adequately prepared to deal with assault victims. Also, because of the unique jurisdictional scheme on reservations, law enforcement can be slow and difficult to come by. If the perpetrator is non-Indian, then the tribe does not have jurisdiction over the crime. This is alarming when more than 86 percent of assaults against Indian women are committed by non-Indians. State and federal law enforcement officials are often far removed from the situation, and the tribes are left without the authority to protect their people. Barack Obama will reexamine the legal framework that allows such injustices, and supports empowering tribes to combat violence against Native women irrespective of whether the perpetrators are Indian or non-Indian.

Law Enforcement: Barack Obama also supports fully funding the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program that many tribal law enforcement agencies have come to rely upon. He also recognizes the important role tribal courts play on the reservation. Obama will continue to support additional resources to strengthen tribal courts as well as correction by statute of the jurisdictional gaps that currently inhibit tribes’ ability to protect their communities..

Detention Centers: There is a demonstrable need for facility improvements and expansions of detention centers in Indian Country. Barack Obama understands that federal funding of such improvements is essential to enable tribe’s to effectively protect their communities.

METHAMPHETAMINES: In a 2006 survey, 74 percent of tribal law enforcement officials reported methamphetamines to be the leading threat to their tribes’ livelihood. The same survey reported dramatic increases in cases of domestic violence, child neglect, sex crimes, and weapons charges.

Combat Meth Act of 2005: Barack Obama supported the Combat Meth Act of 2005, major parts of which became law in 2006. The act puts federal funds into the fight against methamphetamine, provides assistance to children affected by meth abuse, and places restrictions on the sale of the ingredients used to make the drug.

Tribal empowerment: Barack Obama believes that funding tribal police programs and tribal courts and resolving longstanding jurisdiction issues will enable tribal authorities to deal more effectively with the causes and effects of this and other crime problems on Indian land.

VETERANS AFFAIRS: Native Americans serve in the armed forces at a higher rate than any other minority group in America. Native Americans have served in every war, and their special place in American military history is widely recognized. The first woman to die in combat in the Iraq war was a young Native American woman. World War II’s Codetalkers are the most celebrated examples of how Indians have been critical to the success of American efforts overseas. As a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, Obama supports several Veteran measures, including the sheltering and rehabilitation of homeless veterans, securing veterans’ benefits, and easing service members’ transition back into society.

HUNTING AND FISHING: Hunting and fishing are important to many tribes’ diet, culture, and spirituality. Protecting hunting and fishing rights ensures that tribes are able to carry on those aspects of their traditional way of life.

Fishing Rights: The fishing rights of Indian tribes are guaranteed not only by 150 year-old treaties, but by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Boldt decision as well. It is our shared duty to uphold these obligations and protect fisheries in such a manner that allows tribal and non-tribal fishing to continue into the future.

The path to equitable fishery management is paved with good science. Barack Obama supports initiatives to improve the science and our understanding of our nation’s fish stocks. Through improved science, we can better guide decisions about how to protect the health of fish stocks, and, in turn, ensure a better, more secure and predictable future for our nation’s fishermen.

“We’ve got to make sure we are not just having a BIA that is dealing with the various Native American tribes; we’ve got to have the President of the United States meeting on a regular basis with the Native American leadership and ensuring relationships of dignity and respect.” Barack Obama, Elko, NV, January 18, 2008

Friday, January 23, 2009

MNN: Call Out by Seneca, Keepers of the Western Door

Call Out by Seneca, Keepers of the Western Door: Sunday, January 25th 2009, Noon. All welcome to hear and learn the issues. Cattaraugus [Route 438 and NYS Thruway or Interstate I-90]

Mohawk Nation News

Jan. 23, 2009. The Seneca People are inviting all our brothers, sisters, friends, allies and supporters to join us in Cattaraugus. The gathering will feature food, music, speakers and a bonfire. Heated shelter will be available. Bring blankets, cameras, phone cards, warm clothes, shoes, folding chairs, walkie-talkies and so on. Also signs, banners and flags indicating support for Ongwehonwe sovereignty.

The gathering will be a show of unity and solidarity to defend our inherent power to conduct trade free from intervention by colonial New York State.

New York State Governor David A. Paterson signed on December 15, 2008 an illegal document designed to destroy the economies of eleven Ongwehonwe communities by imposing illegal taxes and cutting off supplies to our traders. The scheme is scheduled to come into effect on February 13, 2009.

Paterson’s action has caused State Supreme Court Justice Rose Sconiers to issue a temporary restraining order stopping the enforcement of this highly questionable pretense at a “law”. A hearing is set for January 27th 2009 to decide whether a permanent injunction should be issued against NYS to stop it from implementing this questionable measure.

NYS has refused to pay for its use of our land under the 1954 agreement for the Interstate 90 easement that cuts through our Territory. Because of this the agreement is no longer in effect. NYS is trespassing. To assert our authority over our territory we are working on a system of tolls on the Thruway through Irving. The Seneca tribal courts are working on declaring the thruway as an invasion of sovereign Seneca territory.

The Seneca People are always ready to work cooperatively with New York State. We don’t understand why NYS has chosen to abuse us. Previous conflicts between us and NYS have always ended in the Governors reversing their illegal positions and acknowledging our sovereignty. Most NYS legislators are ready to violate our sovereignty while independent polls indicate that 70% of the people of NYS support legality, fair play and decent treatment of everyone, including us.

The Seneca are petitioning U.S. President Obama to respect the Canadaigua Treaty of 1794 and to protect us from crimes that NYS is attempting to commit. Please help us support Seneca sovereignty and the rule of law.

Contact Seneca Nation at 716-532-4900 and comments can be posted on
Posted: MNN Mohawk Nation News Note: Your financial help is needed and appreciated. Please send your donations to PayPal at, or by check or money order to “MNN Mohawk Nation News”, Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0. Nia:wen thank you very much. Go to MNN “New York State” category for more stories; New MNN Books Available now! Purchase t-shirts, mugs and more at our CafePressStore; Subscribe to MNN for breaking news updates; Sign Women Title Holders petition!
Contact: NYS Gov. David A. Paterson 518-474-8390; ; US Dept. Justice; European Union ; Mohawk Nat Council Chiefs; OAS ; UN Comm Human Rights ; IMF; ;; ; ;
“Kathryn Grant Madigan, President, NYS Bar Association, 1 Elk St., Albany, N.Y. 12207 318-463-3200 %Andrew R. Bush, Director,; Governor David A. Paterson, State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224, 518-474-8390
NYS Assembly
delmonf@ assembly.state.ny.
morellj@ assembly.state.ny.u
Please include a mailing address on your notes in addition to your e-mail address.
Adams, Eric
Addabbo, Joseph P, Jr
Alesi, James S.
Aubertine, Darrel J.
Bonacic, John J.
Breslin, Neil D.
DeFrancisco, John A.
Diaz, Ruben , Sr.
Dilan, Martin Malave
Duane, Thomas K.
Espada, Pedro , Jr.
Farley, Hugh T.
Flanagan, John J.
Foley, Brian X.
Fuschillo, Charles J., Jr.
Golden, Martin J.
Griffo, Joseph A.
Hannon, Kemp
Hassell-Thompson, Ruth
Huntley, Shirley L.
Johnson, Craig M.
Johnson, Owen H.
Klein, Jeffrey D.
Krueger, Liz
Kruger, Carl
Lanza, Andrew J.
Larkin, William J., Jr.
LaValle, Kenneth P.
Leibell, Vincent L., III
Libous, Thomas W.
Little, Elizabeth O'C.
Marcellino, Carl L.
Maziarz, George D.
McDonald, Roy J.
Monserrate, Hiram
Montgomery, Velmanette
Morahan, Thomas P.
Nozzolio, Michael F.
Onorato, George
Oppenheimer, Suzi
Padavan, Frank
Parker, Kevin S.
Perkins, Bill
Ranzenhofer, Michael H.
Robach, Joseph E.
Saland, Stephen M.
Sampson, John L.
Savino, Diane J.
Schneiderman, Eric T.
Serrano, José M.
Seward, James L.
Skelos, Dean G.
Smith, Malcolm A.
Squadron, Daniel L.
Stachowski, William T.
Stavisky, Toby Ann
Stewart-Cousins, Andrea
Thompson, Antoine M.
Valesky, David J.
Volker, Dale M.
Winner, George H., Jr.
Young, Catharine M.
Click here to email the Governor.
New York State Legislative Session Information page at

Rodriguez: 'Fighting for Migrant Justice in the Desert'

Fighting for Migrant Justice in the Desert

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

"Arizona resembles the Deep South of the pre-civil rights era,"
attorney Isabel Garcia asserts. "Here, Mexicanos can not get fair

"I'm not just talking about immigrants," she adds. "I'm talking about
Mexicanos, regardless of their legal status." The climate, she notes,
which fosters vigilantism, is continually stoked by politicians and
media types that seek to blame all of society's ills upon hard-working

Garcia, Pima County's Legal Defender, speaks with a passion that
conjures up a bygone era, yet she insists that in Arizona, there is no
bygone era. It is not uncommon for Mexicans to be shot and killed here
by U.S. agents and not be held accountable. She brings up the case of
Border Patrol agent, Nicholas Corbett who shot Francisco Ramirez at
close range on Jan. 12, 2007 – purportedly for threatening the agent
with a rock. Today Corbett walks free. Two juries could not agree to
convict. And there are countless more cases, she notes, though
truthfully, this form of "frontier justice" has always been true for
the entire U.S./Mexico border region.

Garcia recently invited me to witness firsthand "Operation
Streamline." What I witnessed bore no similarity to anything that can
be remotely called a judicial proceeding. It was more "show trials" in
which 70 migrants were paraded before a judge and in less than one
hour, virtually all were found guilty (3 cases were dismissed) of
illegally entering the country. They were actually also charged with
felonies, but were dismissed to ensure conviction of the lesser
charge. In years past, taxpayer money was not wasted in such
proceedings – proceedings that resemble a 21st century version of
"Indian Removal."

Every day, out of 1,000 migrants apprehended by immigration agents –
70 are randomly selected and processed like cattle through the federal
court system. The objective is to criminalize these migrants and to
have them spend time in the private Correction Corporation of America
(CCA), thereby serving as a disincentive for other would-be migrants.
The eventual goal is to eliminate the policy of "voluntary departure."

It's a sweet deal for the CCA, which receives $11 million per month.
It's actually a for-profit scam because it is a process that does
nothing to address the actual problems associated with Mexico/U.S.

The sham trials are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. In the past
few years, Arizona voters have passed several draconian propositions
that primarily restrict the human and due process rights of migrants,
particularly students. It's a dehumanizing climate. But even these
efforts pale in comparison with the human toll.

Since the mid-1990s, Derechos Humanos – a human rights organization
(co-founded by Garcia) that monitors human rights abuses – has tallied
more than 5,000 deaths along the U.S./Mexico border attributable to
death from exhaustion, dehydration or drowning. The deaths were
preventable as the various militarized border operations and walls
have been designed by immigration authorities with the intent of
funneling migrants into the inhospitable Arizona desert.

Some are hoping that with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano heading the
Department of Homeland Security, things should be better along the
border. Nationally, Napolitano has cultivated an image of moderation,
yet, Garcia notes that such image is pure public relations. During her
tenure, Napolitano did not veto the 2006 draconian "employers
sanctions law" and was quick to call the National Guard to the border.

Yet, Napolitano's departure may indeed see things turn for the worse
because the state will now be firmly in control of the Republican
party – a party that in Arizona is synonymous with anti-immigration –
a party that also completely embraces the media antics of Maricopa
County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The sheriff – who has resorted to
high-profile, racial profiling (anti-immigrant measures aimed at the
Mexican-Latino community) recently tried to get Garcia fired for an
incident involving a piñata resembling the sheriff. Rather than
getting fired, Garcia recently received the Cultural Freedom Award,
along with $150,000 – given to her by the Lannan Foundation.

For those who understand immigration to be an economic and human
rights issue, a humane solution may be forthcoming from Obama's Labor
Department, slated to be headed by California Congresswoman Hilda
Solis. It is not a guarantee, but it should be a radical departure
from the current administration's sham policies.

Perhaps justice may indeed be coming to the desert.

Epilogue: Several days after President Barack Obama was inaugurated, I
returned to the courtroom… and expectedly, nothing has changed. The
sham or show trials continue.

Rodriguez can be reached at:

No One is Illegal Radio: Frontlines of Struggle

Defenders of the Land:
Voices from the frontlines of struggle for land, freedom and self-determination on Turtle Island
(No One Is Illegal Radio -- December 2008)


Between November 12-14, 2008, the historic "Defenders of the Land" gathering took place in Winnipeg. The gathering brought together dozens of grassroots activists, elders, youth, women and men from Indigenous communities across "Canada" who are in active struggle to defend their land and assert self-determination. A new grassroots Indigenous network was created from the gathering, entitled the "Turtle Island Defenders of the Earth" (TIDE).

On this special edition of No One Is Illegal Radio (December 2008), we hear from participants at the Defenders of the Land gathering. The following interviews were taken in Winnipeg during the gathering; collectively, the voices provide a frontline perspective on diverse and linked struggles for land, freedom and self-determination on Turtle Island, as well as reflections on the Defenders of the Land gathering itself.

ALL interviews are available in two parts at the following links:

-> PART 1:
With: Reta Blind, Carol Martin & Phillipa Ryan (Downtown Eastside Vancouver); Milton Bornwithatooth (Peigan Lonefighter's Society); Judy DaSilva (Grassy Narrows); Russell Diabo (spokesperson for Defenders of the Land); Joseph Dore (Anishnabe Nation); Jacqueline House (Six Nations)

-> PART 2:
With: Dustin Johnson & Angela Sterritt (Native 2010 Resistance); Mireille Lapointe (Ardoch Algonquin First Nation); Lionel Lepine & Jada Voyageur (Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation); Marylynn Poucachice (Barriere Lake); Terry Sappier (Tobique First Nation); Kimlee Wong (Sagkeeng First Nation)

Direct links and more information below.

Defenders of the Land interviews
(November 12-14, 2008, Winnipeg):

-- Reta Blind (Cree Nation), Carol Martin (Nisga'a/Gitanyow) & Phillipa Ryan (Gitsken) (31:18)
Elders from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Milton Bornwithatooth (10:18)
Peigan Lonefighter's Society, Blackfoot Confederacy ("Alberta")

-> to listen to the interview:
-> background information:

-- Judy DaSilva (14:23)
Anishinabekwe, Asubpeeschoseewagong Anishnabe Territory (Grassy Narrows, "Ontario")

-> to listen to the interview:
-> background information:

-- Russell Diabo (6:03)
First Nations policy analyst, member of the Mohawk Nation at Kahnawake, media spokesperson for the Defenders of the Land Gathering

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Joseph Dore (16:12)
Anishnabe Nation Member, Bear Clan, Northern Ontario

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Jacqueline House (12:02)
Cayuga Nation of the Turtle Clan, Six Nations, Grand River

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Dustin Johnson (Tsimshian) & Angela Sterritt (Gitxsan) (21:17)
members of Native 2010 Resistance ("British Columbia")

-> to listen to the interview:
-> background information:

-- Mireille LaPointe (17:39)
Ardoch Algonquin First Nation

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Lionel Lepine & Jada Voyageur (7:42)
members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, downstream from the Alberta Tar Sands

-> to listen to the interview:
-> background information:

-- Marylynn Poucachice (10:05)
spokesperson for the Algonquins of Barriere Lake ("Quebec")

-> to listen to the interview:
-> background information:

-- Terry Sappier (8:34)
Tobique First Nation (northwestern "New Brunswick")

-> to listen to the interview:

-- Kimlee Wong (11:06)
member of the Sagkeeng First Nation ("Manitoba")

-> to listen to the interview:

No One Is Illegal-Montreal is part of a worldwide movement of resistance, fighting for justice and dignity, and the right to self-determination for migrants, refugees and indigenous people. Our campaign is in public confrontation with the Canadian state, denouncing and taking action to combat racial profiling, police brutality, detentions and deportations, as well as opposing the displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

INFO: 514-848-7583 --

Previous episodes of No One Is Illegal Radio are linked at:

Selected interviews from previous No One Is Illegal Radio shows, featuring:

- Shawn Brant (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory)
- Gord Hill (Kwakwaka'wakw nation)
- Hazel Hill (Six Nations)
- Janie Jamieson (Six Nations)
- Dustin Johnson (Native 2010 Resistance)
- Kahehti:io (Kahnawake youth activist)
- Kahentinetha (Mohawk Nation News)
- Katenies (Akwesasne Mohawk Territory)
- Roberta Keesick (Grassy Narrows)
- Ken Mair (Maori, Whanganui, Aotearoa)
- Jason Maracle (Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory)
- Rhonda Martin (mother of Six Nations political prisoner Chris Hill)
- Trudy Miller (mother of Indigenous political prisoner Trevor Miller)
- Stuart Myiow Junior (Mohawk Traditional Council of Kahnawake)
- Neecha (Anishnabe Ojibway nation)
- Kanahus Pellkey (Native Youth Movement)
- Marylynn Poucachice (Barriere Lake)
- Raiewate (Kahnawake youth activist)
- Ofelia Rivas (Tohono O'odham elder)
- Angel Smith (cousin of Six Nations political prisoner Chris Hill)
- Angela Sterritt (Native 2010 Resistance)
- Margo Tamez (Lipan Apache)
- Teghiya Kte Canupa (Wounded Knee)
- Jenn Tsun (dissident member of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation)
- Mike Wilson (Tohono O'odham nation)

More details about interviews, and audio links, below:

-- July 2008
JANIE JAMIESON, of the Six Nations Grand River Territory & STUART MYIOW JUNIOR, of the Mohawk Traditional Council of Kahnawake, speaking out about the "slap in the face" of the recent Canadian government apology for residential schools.

to listen to the interviews:

-- April 2008
MARYLYNN POUCACHICE of the Lac Barriere Algonquin Community, and ANGELA STERRITT of Native 2010 Resistance.

to listen to the interviews:

-- February 2008
Lakota Freedom Delegation declares "Republic of Lakotah":
 interview with TEGHIYA KTE CANUPA, headsman from Wounded Knee, South Dakota

Lipan Apache Resist the Border Wall: interview with MARGO TAMEZ of the Lipan Apache of southern Texas

No Olympics on Stolen Land!: audio from press conference and public talks in Montreal by KANAHUS PELLKEY and DUSTIN JOHNSON

to listen to the interviews:

-- January 2008
Supporting migrants at the US-Mexico border: interviews with activists and reporters: Brenda Norrell (Tuscon, Arizona), MIKE WILSON (member of the Tohono O'odham nation) and Jay Johnson-Castro (Del Rio, Texas)

to listen to the interviews:

-- December 2007
From the frontlines of indigenous resistance to the US-Mexico Border Wall, an interview with OFELIA RIVAS, an activist, elder and grandmother from an O'odham village near the US-Mexican border in Arizona.

More on the border wall with KAHENTINETHA of Mohawk Nation News (MNN), who was a delegate to the Indigenous Border Summit on the territory of the O'odham Nation this past November, and protested at the Border Wall.

to listen to the interview:

-- November 2007
Arrests and raids of indigenous Maori activists and allies in Aotearoa, under the Terrorism Suppression Act; interview with Maori sovereignist KEN MAIR from Whanganui, Aotearoa (New Zealand);

The Gathering of the Indigenous People of the Americas in Vicam, Yaqui Territory, Mexico; report-backs from delegates DUSTIN JOHNSON (member of the Ts'mkiyen nation and editor of Redwire Magazine), NEECHA (activist from the Anishnabe Ojibway nation) and KATENIES (Kanion'ke:haka from Akwesasne Mohawk Territory);

to listen to the interviews:

-- September 2007
Interview with SHAWN BRANT, Mohawk organizer and activist from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Eastern Ontario: Shawn was jailed and denied bail in relation to his participation in native blockades of rail lines and highways on the territory of the Tyendinaga Mohawks.

to listen to the interview:

-- August 2007
The Algonquins of Sharbot Lake resist uranium mining and assert indigenous sovereignty: an interview with JENN TSUN, a dissident member of the Ardoch Algonquin First Nation.

to listen to the interview:

-- July 2007
KAHEHTI:IO (Bear Clan) & RAIEWATE (Bear Clan) are youth activists from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, south of Montreal.
In this interview from Kahnawake, Kahehti:io and Raiewate speak about the blockade of Highway 30 and the shutdown of the Mercier bridge on June 29, the inspiration of the resistance at Tyendinaga, the anniversary of Oka, and unity amongst indigenous activists.

GORD HILL is a member of the Kwakwaka'wakw nation. He is an artist and organizer who has been active with the Native Youth Movement, the Sutikalh Camp and other groups. He is an activist with the Anti-Colonial/Anti-Capitalist Convergence against the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver/Whistler.

to listen to the interviews:

-- May 2007
RHONDA MARTIN, mother of former Six Nations political prisoner Chris Hill. Chris was held in a Hamilton-area detention centre for over three months in relation to charges relating to the Ontario Provincial Police raid on the Six Nations Land Reclamation that has been ongoing since February 2006.

A live interview by phone with JASON MARACLE from the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. A spokesperson for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Jason has been involved in the ongoing reclamation of a quarry site on a part of Mohawk land called the "Culberston Tract.

to listen to the interviews:

-- April 2007
SHAWN BRANT of the Tyendinaga Mohawk Community in Eastern Ontario, about the ongoing occupation of a quarry, as part of a land reclamation effort on the Culberston Tract

to listen to the interview:

-- February 2007
KATENIES, member of the Akwesasne Mohawk Community, who is currently wanted on an arrest warrant for refusing to appear in court as she steadfastly refuses to recognize the jurisdiction of the Canadian courts and border officials.

to listen to the interview:

-- January 2007
KAHENTINETHA of Mohawk Nation News from January 1, 2007; she reports on historic events at the Grand River Territory of Six Nations, where a traditional Confederacy House, shut down by the Canadian government in 1924, was re-opened.

to listen to the interview:

-- December 2006
We speak with TRUDY MILLER and ANGEL SMITH, mother and cousin of indigenous political prisoner Trevor Miller. Trevor has been in preventive custody for more than four months, since August when he was arrested at a blockade at Grassy Narrows. Trevor has been referred to as the "Forgotten Warrior" because his situation was not publicly known for several months, until a letter he wrote his mother was published in a local Six Nations newspaper.

to listen to the interviews:

-- July 2006
An interview with HAZEL HILL of Six Nations, spokesperson for the Land Reclamation near Caledonia, Ontario. Since February 28, 2006, Six Nations people and their supporters have blocked further construction by Henco Industries on their land, saying they will stay until jurisdiction and title over the land is properly restored to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

An interview with KAHENTINETHA of Mohawk Nation News (MNN), and an elder from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory. Kahentinetha reflects on the July 11 anniversary of the police invasion at Kanehsatake in 1990 (the so-called Oka Crisis). Kahentinetha, with her daughters, was directly involved in the resistance at Kanehsatake.

An interview with ROBERTA KEESICK of the Grassy Narrows indigenous community in Northwestern Ontario. Roberta is a trapper and grandmother, as well as a blockader against the clear-cut logging of Grassy Narrows territory. The blockade began in December 2002, and is the longest standing indigenous blockade in Canadian history.

to listen to the interviews:

-- May 2006
KAHEHTI:IO is a Mohawk youth activist from Kahnawake. He was arrested and detained at the Six Nations Land Reclamation, after a police raid on April 20, 2006. He refused to recognize the authority of the colonial courts and was eventually released from custody without charge after several days of detention.

to listen to the interview:

No One Is Illegal-Montreal is part of a worldwide movement of resistance, fighting for justice and dignity, and the right to self-determination for migrants, refugees and indigenous people. Our campaign is in public confrontation with the Canadian state, denouncing and taking action to combat racial profiling, police brutality, detentions and deportations, as well as opposing the displacement and genocide of indigenous peoples on Turtle Island.

INFO: 514-848-7583 --

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Peltier beaten, attorney describes injuries

By Brenda Norrell

CANAAN, Penn. -- Leonard Peltier was jumped and beaten after being transferred from a prison in Lewisburg to Canaan on January 13. The family, however, was not notified by the prison and received the information by way of a letter from Peltier. Peltier, 64, was placed in solitary confinement and it is not known if he has received medical attention.

"Once Mr. Peltier arrived at the Canaan prison facility, he was jumped by younger inmates, severely beaten, put in solitary confinement and placed upon meal restrictions despite his having diabetes and other medical conditions," the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee said in a statement ."The family has requested copies of the video tapes of that incident to no avail. It is as if the whole scenario was contrived to detract from the fact that Mr. Peltier has been a model prisoner having more than enough points to qualify for parole," LPDOC said.

Recently, the amount of hate mail circulated on the Internet regarding Peltier and appeals for his release has increased and could have played a role in the attack on Peltier.

The LPDOC said, "Retired, former and actively employed FBI agents have taken action against the release and parole of Leonard Peltier time and again. While it is their right to speak their opinion, it is not right to do so on federal time and at the taxpayer’s expense. Their letters, writings, articles, books, protests, outcries and interviews concerning Mr. Peltier, are a conflict of interest and tip the scales against him unfairly. In addition, it is certainly questionable as to the timing of a letter written by a former FBI Agent to Representative John Conyers and the beating Mr. Peltier received at Canaan."

The LPDOC said the attack on Peltier comes on the heels of the FBI's recent letter, prompting this attack by FBI supporters as an attempt to discredit Peltier as a model prisoner. "Anyone who has been in the prison system knows well that if you refuse to name your attackers or file charges against them, then you lose your status as a victim and/or given points against your possible parole and labeled as a perpetrator. It is not uncommon, in fact is quite common for the government to use Indian against Indian and they still operate under the old adage "it takes an Indian to catch an Indian," LPDOC said.

In 1978, the US government made an attempt to assassinate Peltier, offering another Indian inmate at Marion prison with Leonard Peltier, a chance at freedom. The man was Standing Deer. Standing Deer befriended Peltier in prison and exposed the plot to assassinate him. Standing Deer was murdered in Houston after his release from prison.

LPDOC said, "Standing Deer chose to reveal the plot to him instead of taking his life in exchange for a chance at freedom. When Standing Deer was released in 2001, he joined the former Leonard Peltier Defense Committee as a board member. He also began to speak on Leonard's behalf until his murder six years ago today. Prior to his murder, Standing Deer confided with close friends and associates that the same man who visited him in Marion to assassinate Peltier, had came to Houston and told him that he had better stay away from Peltier and anything to do with him," the LDPOC said. (An interview with Ben Carnes on Standing Deer and Peltier can be heard at Censored News Blog Radio or at Earthcycles on Longest Walk.)

Micheal Kuzma, an attorney for Leonard Peltier's defense, described the attack on Peltier in prison, during an interview with American Indian Airwaves on Wednesday, Jan. 21. Kuzma said Peltier's sister Betty Peltier-Solano, executive coordinator of the Leonard Peltier Defense Offense Committee,
received a letter from Peltier, but was never notified by prison officials of the attack. Peltier was transferred from Lewisburg to Canaan prison during the week of Jan. 12th and attacked on the 13th, by other inmates.

Kuzma said, "According to the letter, he thinks he might have a concussion. His middle finger on his left hand is either broken or badly injured. He has a large bump near his right wrist. The right side of his rib cage and chest are in pain. He also has a bruise on the right side of his chest. He also has a bruise on his left knee, and is suffering from headaches. These headaches are a direct result of the Jan. 13 beating."
Listen (last 20 minutes of program) on Jan. 21 at:
AIM West plans a protest in solidarity with Peltier to draw attention to the attack and call for his release on Friday in San Francisco.
For more information: LPDOC:
Updates at Censored News:

Bush's parting dagger: Coal mining on Black Mesa


Enei Begaye, Black Mesa Water Coalition (928) 213-5909

Anna Frazier, Dine CARE (928) 380-7697

Andy Bessler, Sierra Club, (928) 774-6103

Amy Atwood, Center for Biological Diversity, (541) 914-8372

Peabody Energy's Plan to Reopen Black Mesa Coal Mine Threatens Navajo and Hopi Communities, Religious Freedom, Water Supplies, and Wildlife; Will Worsen Global Warming

Diverse Coalition of Tribal and Conservation Groups Appeal

Peabody’s Illegal Permit for Black Mesa Coal Mine

Black Mesa, Ariz.— In the waning days of the Bush administration the Office of Surface Mining hurriedly issued a “Life-of-Mine” permit allowing Peabody Energy to reopen the controversial Black Mesa coal mine in northeastern Arizona . This permit allows Peabody Energy to consolidate the Black Mesa and Kayenta mines into a massive, 65,000-acre mine complex. A diverse coalition of tribal and conservation groups today challenged this permit, citing concerns about air and water pollution, global warming, ground water depletion, and impacts to religious freedom.

“This Life of Mine permit will have a devastating effect on the cultural survival of the future generations of both Navajo and Hopi,” said Anthony Lee, president of the Dine Hataalii (medicine man) Association. “The natural elements of light, water, air, and earth are interconnected. If one of these elements is disturbed or abused, the well-being and wholeness of the Navajo people and all life forms will be in disharmony and serious imbalances will occur, such as is the case with global warming.”

Today’s appeal of the December 22, 2008 issuance of a permit cites procedural and substantive violations of several laws, including the National Environmental Policy Act and the Surface Mining Reclamation Control Act.

“As Navajo and Hopi community members, we were denied an extension of the commenting period, we were denied informal conference meetings, we were denied public hearings, we were even denied the ability to see Peabody’s revised permit application,” said Enei Begaye, Black Mesa Water Coalition director. “This process has only valued corporate interests rather those who would be most impacted by this mining operation.”

Peabody ’s coal mining operations on Black Mesa have for more than 35 years been dependent on a sole source of drinking water for Navajo and Hopi communities. Between 1969 and 2005 Peabody pumped an average of 4,600 acre-feet of water annually from the Navajo Aquifer, resulting in significant damage to community water supplies. Peabody ’s permit would allow a continued pumping at approximately 1,200 acre-feet per year.

“Our water has reached irreversible damage, families face devastating impacts,” said Nicole Horseherder, Navajo citizen and Black Mesa resident. “Our leaders don't realize that the American dream is no longer the big house with the white fence and new car in the drive. The American dream is clean air and pure water and a sustainable economy based on clean technology and renewable energy.”

The permit allows for continued coal mining into the year 2025 and an estimated 670 million tons of coal to be extracted.

“Coal combustion allowed by the mine permit will devastate the surrounding communities and result in massive amounts of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney and public lands energy director at the Center for Biological Diversity, “yet the federal agencies’ analyses flatly ignored the impacts of global warming to endangered species and their habitats.”

“Our value isn’t just money from resources extraction, our value comes from our culture and our relationship with Mother Earth. Black Mesa is the female mountain, coal is her liver, water is her lifeblood, and we need to leave it in the ground,” said Marie Gladue Dine from Black Mesa. “Taking coal out of the earth is a dirty business, and it’s time to move toward a clean energy future that respects Indigenous communities and our future generations.”

The diverse coalition of organizations includes: Black Mesa Water Coalition, To Nizhoni Ani, Dine CARE, Dine Hataalii Association, Inc., Dine Alliance, C-Aquifer for Dine, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. This coalition filed an appeal today to the U.S. Department of the Interior Office of Hearings and Appeals. The organizations are represented by the Energy Minerals Law Center in Durango , Colorado .

“We are working in partnership with tribal members and those concerned with global warming, who want to see green jobs, not a black hole in Black Mesa,” said Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club. “This appeal really is a chance for the Obama Administration to listen to grassroots concerns and help build a green economy based on a clean energy future.”

“We have to do everything we can to reverse this Life of Mine permit,” said Bucky Preston, Hopi traditional leader. “Otherwise our future children will be living without water in a devastated land, and they will ask us why we didn’t fight for them.”


The Black Mesa mine closed in 2005 when a court settlement shut down the power plant it fed, the Mojave Generating Station in Laughlin , Nevada , for pollution violations. In issuance of a permit to Peabody , neither the Office of Surface Mining nor Peabody identified a new purchaser or consumer of coal for the mine. In addition, federal agencies’ analysis of the permit failed to adequately consider the impacts of global warming on endangered fish in the Colorado River .

By contributing to global warming-related droughts and pumping more groundwater, permitted mining would exacerbate the effects more than 30 years of Peabody ’s groundwater depletion that has drained billions of gallons of water from aquifers. Peabody ’s pumping has corresponded to depleted wells and decreased surface flows in area springs and creeks upon which residents and wildlife depend. Despite evidence of continuing aquifer deterioration, the Office of Surface Mining and Peabody seek to continue extracting 1,236 acre-feet of groundwater from the Navajo Aquifer for mining operations over the permit period ending 2025.

For more background information please visit:

Andy Bessler

Tribal Partnerships Program

Sierra Club

928-774-6103 office

928-774-6138 fax

928-380-7808 cell

P.O. Box 38

Flagstaff, AZ 86002

Censored News Special Edition

Censored News Blog Radio

Donate to Censored News

. Censored News is free of advertising and has no sponsors.

Censored News Homepage

About Censored News

Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
COPYRIGHTS All material is copyrighted by the author or photographer. Please contact each contributor for reprint permission.
Audios may not be sold or used for commercial purposes.

"O FRIEND! In the garden of thy heart plant naught but the rose of love, and from the nightingale of affection and desire loosen not thy hold." --Baha'u'llah, Baha'i Faith