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BIA Withdraws Biological Assessment for
Proposed Desert Rock Power Plant in NM

L.A. Times  -  18 DEC 2009
   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)—The Bureau of Indian Affairs has withdrawn its biological assessment for a proposed power plant in northwestern New Mexico, saying it has "significant concerns" about the impact of mercury and selenium on two endangered fish species in the San Juan River.
   BIA Director Jerry Gidner, in a letter Thursday to Fish and Wildlife Service Southwest Regional Director Benjamin Tuggle, said the decision will allow more time for coordination between Tuggle's staff, the BIA and the Environmental Protection Agency....
Young Tribal Activists Nix Coal, Embrace Green
New America Media  -  18 DEC 2007
   Wahleah Johns grew up near the coal mines of the Black Mesa region of Arizona and experienced first-hand the toll that mining takes on people, the land and the groundwater. Her community, Forest Lake, was one of several communities atop Black Mesa, where Peabody Energy ran the largest strip mining operation in the country on Indian land until recently.
   Today, Johns, 34, co-directs the Black Mesa Water Coalition, a grassroots organization of Native American and non-Native activists in Flagstaff, which combines the goals of traditional environmentalism with the commitment to Native culture and reverence for the land.
   Johns and the Coalition are not unique among American Indians. But their activism against fossil fuels and polluting power plants and for sustainable, environmentally friendly growth reveals a generational schism within the largest Native American tribes that has profound economic and political implications for the future. That schism was brought into sharp relief in September when the Hopi government banned local and national environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, from their lands....
Audio File Download (MP3; 5.13MB; 5:36 min. in length)
Indigenous Groups Demand Recognition of Rights at Climate Talks  -  17 DEC 2009
   Another voice to emerge this week at the Copenhagen Climate talks, is that of the world's indigenous communities, who call for a recognition of indigenous rights as part of the negotiations.
   We're joined from Copenhagen by Nikke Alex, a Navajo youth who works with the Black Mesa Water Coalition, that’s a group based in Flagstaff Arizona that was founded by Hopi and Navajo youth in 2004.
   Download Audio File
U.S. Will Settle Indian Lawsuit for $3.4 Billion
New York Times  -  09 DEC 2009
   WASHINGTON — The federal government announced on Tuesday that it intends to pay $3.4 billion to settle claims that it has mismanaged the revenue in American Indian trust funds, potentially ending one of the largest and most complicated class-action lawsuits ever brought against the United States.
   The tentative agreement, reached late Monday, would resolve a 13-year-old lawsuit over hundreds of thousands of land trust accounts that date to the 19th century. Specialists in federal tribal law described the lawsuit as one of the most important in the history of legal disputes involving the government’s treatment of American Indians.
   President Obama hailed the agreement as an “important step towards a sincere reconciliation” between the federal government and American Indians, many of whom, he said, considered the protracted lawsuit a “stain” on the nation.
   As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama said, “I pledged my commitment to resolving this issue, and I am proud that my administration has taken this step today.”
   For the agreement to become final, Congress must enact legislation and the federal courts must then sign off on it. Administration officials said they hoped those two steps would be completed in the next few months.
   The dispute arises from a system dating to 1887, when Congress divided many tribal lands into parcels — most from 40 to 160 acres — and assigned them to individual Indians while selling off remaining lands.
   The Interior Department now manages about 56 million acres of Indian trust land scattered across the country, with the heaviest concentration in Western states. The government handles leases on the land for mining, livestock grazing, timber harvesting and drilling for oil and gas. It then distributes the revenue raised by those leases to the American Indians. In the 2009 fiscal year, it collected about $298 million for more than 384,000 individual Indian accounts.
   The lawsuit accuses the federal government of mismanaging that money. As a result, the value of the trusts has been unclear, and the Indians contend that they are owed far more than what they have been paid....
Settlement Agreement Reached in Cobell v. Salazar  -  09 DEC 2009
   A Settlement Agreement has been announced between IIM beneficiaries and the Secretary of the Interior, the Assistant Secretary of the Interior-Indian Affairs, and the Secretary of the Treasury in a long-running class action lawsuit, Cobell v. Salazar. The lawsuit claims that the federal government mismanaged individual Indians' trust accounts....
Study of Desert Rock’s Impact on Endangered Species Due Soon
New Mexican Independent  -  07 DEC 2009
   In September, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rescinded the air permit it had issued in 2008 for a coal-fired power plant to be built near Farmington, saying the decision was made in part because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Department hadn’t yet completed a study of potential impacts of the project on endangered species.
   That study has been underway and will be completed and turned over to the Bureau of Indian Affairs this  month,  Wally  Murphy,  supervisor  of  the  Albuquerque  office  of  the  U.S. Fish  and  Wildlife Department, told the Independent in an interview. Species potentially impacted by the proposed Desert Rock project—which would be the third coal-fired power plant located within 16 miles of each other—are the southwestern willow flycatcher, the Colorado pike minnow, the razorback sucker, the silvery minnow, the Mancos milk-vetch and the Mesa Verde cactus.
   While the data isn’t publicly available yet, Murphy said there are serious problems posed by high levels of mercury and selenium both in the air and in the San Juan River. Both elements are naturally occurring, but in large concentrations pose a significant health hazard to humans and the environment. According to the New Mexico Environment Department, coal-fired power plants account for more than 50 percent of the mercury found in New Mexico; they are also a significant source of selenium....
Pollution Permit for Peabody's Black Mesa Coal Mine Withdrawn by EPA
Following Appeal by Tribal and Conservation Groups

Center for Biological Diversity  -  03 DEC 2009
   BLACK MESA, Ariz.— In response to an appeal brought by a diverse coalition of tribal and environmental groups, this week the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew a controversial water permit for the massive Black Mesa Coal Complex, a coal-mine complex located on Navajo Nation and Hopi lands in northeastern Arizona. EPA’s permit withdrawal means that discharges of heavy metal and pollutants—including selenium, nitrates, and other heavy metals and toxic pollutants from coal-mining operations at the Black Mesa Complex—are threatening washes, tributaries, groundwater, and the drinking water for local communities, but are not being regulated.
   “EPA is to be commended for doing the right thing in this instance and withdrawing the inadequate water permit for Black Mesa,” said Wahleah Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. “Our community was shut out of the permitting process and our requests for public hearings on the permit denied. If a new permit is issued, the agency must ensure that impacted communities are meaningfully involved in environmental decision-making.”...
EPA Withdraws Discharge Permit for Arizona Mine
Durango Herald  -  04 DEC 2009
   FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn a water discharge permit for a controversial coal-mining operation in northern Arizona pending public hearings.
   The EPA's decision about the permit for Peabody Energy's Black Mesa mine complex comes after an appeal by environmentalists who contend the discharge of heavy metal and pollutants threatens water sources that nearby Navajo and Hopi communities depend on for drinking, farming and ranching.
   Dave Smith, water permits manager in the EPA's San Francisco office, said Thursday the agency believes the permit is solid but wanted to provide an opportunity for additional public comment....
Climate Change, Drought Transforming Navajos' Dunescape to a Dust Bowl
Indian Country Today  -  01 DEC 2009
   WINSLOW, Ariz.—Instead of spending his time in ceremony one warm night last July, Navajo rancher Robert Diller spent it in his tractor, digging other attendees and their cars out of the sand. He lost count after 10.
   The  travelers were  heading to the ceremonial grounds at Navajo medicine  man  Ross  Nez’s  ranch  for  three  days  of  traditional ceremony to heal their lands of what the Navajo call Sei Nahogishii,
“the tumbling sands.” These menacing clouds of sand or dust carried by strong winds often appear as solid walls moving across the land.
   It looked like dust was raining from the clouds—it looked like rain, but it was dust,” said the medicine man’s son, Virgil Nez. “The sand was just grabbing their vehicles.” A bad storm often reduces visibility to nil, and after it passes drivers can find their car partially buried, or sunken....
Veterans Urged to Volunteer  -  23 NOV 2009
   First Lady Michelle Obama recently urged all Americans, including military veterans, to put their skills to use in volunteer service to assist U.S. communities and citizens in need....
Executive Order to Hire Vets  -  23 NOV 2009
   President Barack Obama recently signed an executive order aimed at hiring more veterans to work in the federal government. A government wide Council on Veterans' Employment will be created....
1969 Alcatraz Takeover 'Changed the Whole Course of History'
CNN  -  20 NOV 2009
   San Francisco, California (CNN)—Alcatraz Island was a chilly, unwelcoming place once reserved for infamous criminals. Not even the federal government appeared to want it after the penitentiary closed in the 1960s.
Adam Fortunate Eagle remembers "The Rock" a little more warmly: a place where fellow Native Americans took a stand that may have helped end the U.S. policy of tribal assimilation....
Hopi Tribe Elects New Chairman, Vice Chairman
Navajo-Hopi Observer  -  19 NOV 2009
   Shingoitewa elected to Hopi Chairman post, Honanie elected as Vice Chairman
   KYKOTSMOVI, AZ—The Hopi Tribe has a new chairman and vice chairman with the elections of Leroy Ned Shingoitewa (chairman) and Herman Honanie (vice chairman) on Wednesday.
   The two faced off against their opponents from the primary election, which was held Nov. 4.
   Shingoitewa garnered 1,084 votes to win the chairmanship, besting challenger Clark Tenakhongva who tallied 560 votes, according to official returns released by the Hopi elections office. In all, 1,636 votes were cast.
   For the vice chairman's position, Honanie received 1,010 votes compared with his opponent, Leroy Sumatzkuku, who got 634 votes, the elections office said. Sumatzkuku, a current member of the Hopi Tribal Council, will retain his council seat....
Stagnating Temperatures
Climatologists Baffled by Global Warming Time-Out
Spiegel Online  -  19 NOV 2009
   Global warming appears to have stalled. Climatologists are puzzled as to why average global temperatures have stopped rising over the last 10 years. Some attribute the trend to a lack of sunspots, while others explain it through ocean currents.
   At least the weather in Copenhagen is likely to be cooperating. The Danish Meteorological Institute predicts that temperatures in December, when the city will host the United Nations Climate Change Conference, will be one degree above the long-term average....
'One Mind, One Heart, One Prayer'
Elders connect with supporters at 20th annual rug show
by Cindy Yurth, Navajo Times   -  19 NOV 2009
   Park City, Utah—Katie Furcap usually walks with a cane. On Saturday, Nov. 7, she forgot it.
"I'm so happy, I didn't remember I need a gish," the 76-year-old from Big Mountain, Ariz., quipped in Navajo.
   The miraculous occasion was the 20th Annual Adopt-a-Native-Elder Rug Show, in which Furcap has been participating since before it was even an official event.
   Furcap wasn't the only one smiling at the packed Snow Park Lodge, where customers perused crafts and rugs and Diné elders, with a child or grandchild translating, explained the symbolism in their designs (including a new symbolic color: pink for breast cancer awareness)....Alternate Page
Tribal Embassy Opens to Great Fanfare
Indian Country Today  -  17 NOV 2009
   WASHINGTON – The week of the White House Tribal Nations Conference was one of many high notes, including strong promises from the president and his administration, unprecedented representation from tribal leadership, and the festive opening of an international Embassy of Tribal Nations.
   The Nov. 3 kickoff of the tribal embassy, located at 1514 P St., N.W. in the heart of the nation’s capital, embodied the climax of years of planning by the National Congress of American Indians to enhance the presence of tribal sovereign nations.
  The address of the large grey building is in the Dupont Circle area near Embassy Row, where many foreign embassies and diplomatic facilities have their homes....
Skibine Promises New Federal Recognition Regulations
Indian Country Today  -  16 NOV 2009
   WASHINGTON—A top BIA official has promised to reform the federal recognition process.
   Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs George Skibine told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs it would take about two years to review existing regulations and develop new ones in consultation with tribal nations.
   It was déjà vu all over again at SCIA’s hearing on fixing the federal acknowledgment process November 4.
   “The very title implies that the process is broken, so our title says this is about fixing it,” SCIA Chairman Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, said....
Questioning a ‘Commander-in-Chief’ for Focusing on Indians
Indian Country Today  -  14 NOV 2009
   WASHINGTON—In the waning minutes of the day-long White House Tribal Nations Conference, held Nov. 5, President Barack Obama performed two duties: He said goodbye to the hundreds of leaders of sovereign Indian nations whom he invited to Washington, and addressed the horrific shootings at Fort Hood. In doing so, he created a controversy that has perplexed some in Indian country.
   Some observers who tuned in to see the president’s remarks late in the afternoon expected him to talk only about the tragedy.
   Thus, many mainstream viewers saw Obama addressing tribal leaders like Joe Medicine Crow, a citizen of the Crow Nation, whom he had awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom earlier this year, and then making strong remarks and condolences regarding the Fort Hood situation.
   At the tribal nation event, a somber mood overtook many of the conference attendees after Obama’s remarks, with many expressing sadness about the devastating shootings at Fort Hood. Some said the president did a good job at balancing both his obligation to sovereign tribal leaders, as well as addressing a national tragedy.
   But opinions outside the walls of the conference were not so clear cut....
Pelosi Shares Meeting with Tribal Leaders
Health commitments made
Indian Country Today
  -  13 NOV 2009
   WASHINGTON—On  the  eve of a historic tribal conference with President Barack Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., took time to meet with visiting Indian leaders as well.
   The meeting  was held  at  the Capitol  building Nov. 4  and included  a  photo opportunity on the speaker’s balcony; it lasted about an hour, according to those in attendance.
   The main topic of conversation was health care.
   “We come together at a time when we are on the verge of passing historic health care reform legislation, and our members are very 
enthusiastic about a provision in the legislation that includes the Indian Health Care Improvement Act,” Pelosi said....
'Language Was My Weapon'
Navajo Code Talker recalls training for World War II

Durango Herald  -  15 NOV 2009
   SHIPROCK–An extended family of more than 150 members said happy birthday—ba hoozho bi'dizchi-neeji' 'aneilkaah—here Wednesday to 87-year-old David Patterson, one of the few remaining Navajo Code Talkers whose encrypted messages befuddled eavesdropping Japanese as U.S. Marines recaptured Pacific islands in World War II....
Two Vie to Lead Arizona Tribe in Political Turmoil
Associated Press  -  13 NOV 2009
    FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - Two men vying to become the next chairman on the Hopi reservation say untangling the political mess that has characterized tribal government for years is their top priority.
   The legitimacy of the Tribal Council without an elected chairman or vice chairman has been thrown into question since the former leaders resigned last December in an attempt to restore peace to the Hopi people.
   LeRoy Shingoitewa and Clark Tenakhongva said the current Tribal Council, over which the chairman presides, has failed to uphold the tribe's constitution and acted against the wishes of constituents, further throwing the government into disarray....

Native American Student Documentary
Selected for Two High-profile Screenings

UA News  -  13 NOV 2009
   A unique community perspective put to film by a University of Arizona Native American student is the selection for two unique showings this year.
   "The Chiefs' Prophecy" by student filmmaker Leo Killsback is a 2009 Official Selection for the 34th Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, Calif. The festival encourages Native and non-Native filmmakers to bring Native voices, viewpoints and stories to the popular medium....

Shareholder Begins Dismantling Plant
Kingman Daily Miner  -  11 NOV 2009
   KINGMAN - It's the end of an era for Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin. Southern California Edison, one of four shareholders, started to dismantle the old coal-fired power plant in October. The process is supposed to take about two years and cost about $30 million.
   The generating equipment will be removed and the permits to run the plant will be terminated in 2010.
   The plant's transmission switchyard and some related facilities will remain in place....

Danny Blackgoat to Speak in Santa Cruz and SF  -  11 NOV 2009
   Danny Blackgoat, a longtime Dine' (Navajo) resister of forced relocation, will be traveling from his home at Big Mountain (AZ) this weekend to speak in Santa Cruz on Friday, Nov. 13th and San Francisco on Saturday, Nov. 14th. He will be screening a new 24 minute film featuring Pauline Whitesinger, and giving an hour long presentation about relocation, coal mining, and recent happenings at Black Mesa....

‘Enough Is Enough’
Indian Country Today  -  10 NOV 2009
   As the Hopi Tribe moves toward its 2009 general election, there are many issues the Hopi and Tewa voters need to learn about and consider before casting their votes.
   We have the worst tribal political corruption in Indian country, numerous civil rights violations and gross misuse of tribal funds under the current leadership that must be addressed and investigated. But I believe the most important and immediate issue facing the Hopi Tribe now is the decision by the Office of Surface Mining to issue a Life of Mine Permit to the Peabody Coal Company. The permit will have devastating long-term impacts on the Hopi Tribe so the new tribal administration must learn more about it and take a positive stand on behalf of the Hopi and Tewa people....
Larry Mitchell: Change Comes Slow to Navajo  -  08 NOV 2009
   They arrive each morning, press releases by the armload—or by the screenload, to be more accurate.
   That's what today's reporters face. Our e-mail inboxes fill up almost faster than we can clean them out.
   Most releases merit only a brief glance, if that; but now and then one appears that's of real interest,  like the release that arrived recently from the Black Mesa Water Coalition....
Hopi Council Protecting Its Tribe
Arizona Republic  -  07 NOV 2009
   Editor's Note:...
KYKOTSMOVI—The Hopi Tribe is struggling to protect its homeland and sovereignty against attacks by local and national environmental groups seeking to force their political agendas on the tribe. In opposing these groups' efforts to undermine the Hopi government, the tribe is protecting not just its sovereignty and economy; it is in a fight for the very survival of Hopi culture and religion....
Isolated Amazon Indians Die in ‘Swine Flu Epidemic’
Survival International  -  04 NOV 2009
   Seven Yanomami Indians in Venezuela have died from an outbreak of suspected swine flu in the last two weeks. Another 1,000 Yanomami are reported to have caught the virulent strain of flu.
   The Venezuelan government has sealed off the area, and sent in medical teams to treat the Yanomami. The regional office of the World Health Organization has confirmed the presence of swine flu.
   There are fears that the epidemic could sweep through the Yanomami territory and kill many more Indians....
U.S. EPA Takes Enforcement Action Against the Wilbur-Ellis Company
for 21 Violations of Federal Pesticide Law

National pesticide distributor and applicator fined nearly $100,000 following pesticide violations
EPA  -  04 NOV 2009
SAN FRANCISCO—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has fined a California-based national distributor of agricultural products, the Wilbur-Ellis Company, $99,600 for 21 alleged violations of federal pesticide law.
   The case was the result of investigations conducted by regulators in Arizona, Idaho, Navajo Nation, Ft. Mojave Indian Tribe, and EPA’s Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest Regional Offices....
EPA Awards $200,000 to the Cherokee Nation
EPA  -  04 NOV 2009
Dallas, Texas–03 November 2009—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $200,000 to the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.  The Tribe will use the funds to continue implementing a Lead-Based Paint Program authorized by EPA....

* * NEWS BRIEF * * *                    

EPA, Federal, State, Navajo Nation Hold Second Summit
to Address Uranium Contamination on the Navajo Nation

EPA  -  04 NOV 2009
GALLUP—Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with four other federal agencies, the Navajo Nation, congressional staff, academia, state, tribal and local government representatives, community members and nongovernment organizations are meeting to discuss the progress of  the five-year plan to address uranium contamination on the Navajo Nation....

Tribe's Environmental Fight
Coal mines and power plant give Navajos income, controversy
Arizona Republic  -  02 NOV 2009
   WINDOW ROCK - A green controversy fueled by coal-fired power plants is raging on America's largest Indian reservation.
   On one side is Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation, who rejects the notion of climate change even though he recently won an international award for environmentalism. On the other are environmentalists opposed to power plants in Indian Country and to the coal mines that provide their fuel. Caught in the middle are tribal members concerned with economic survival and the protection of sacred lands.
   The dispute centers on fundamental questions of religion and heritage, as well as tribal finances....
Cleaning Dirty Air Risks Costlier Arizona Water
Arizona Republic  -  01 NOV 2009
   The Navajo Generating Station, the huge coal-fired power plant outside Page, supplies a fraction of Arizona's electricity demand, but its role in moving water to the state's largest cities has thrust it into a growing battle over the cost of cleaning up air pollution.
   In the two months since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed rules that would require costly new air-scrubbing equipment at the plant, the debate has escalated into a war of increasingly dire predictions: Tribal economies could collapse. The plant itself could close. The price of water sold to Phoenix and Tucson could quadruple....
EPA Air Rules Could Impact AZ Water Rates 
The Sacramento Bee  -  01 NOV 2009
   PHOENIX -- The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station supplies a fraction of Arizona's electricity demands, but it plays a critical role in moving water to the state's largest cities.
   Federal regulators have proposed rules that would require the plant to install expensive new emissions equipment, and the plant's owners say the cost could push power rates out of reach for users, including the Central Arizona Project Canal.
   The plant supplies electricity cheaply enough for CAP to pump water to Phoenix and Tucson.
   CAP officials say there's little question the new regulations proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would result in higher prices for water users....
Macalester Student Wins Mario Savio Young Activist Award
Press Release  -  28 OCT 2009
   St. Paul, Minn.—Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, a 22-year-old senior at Macalester College, has been awarded the Mario Savio Young Activist Award for his work in tackling the problems of climate change and environmental justice. As part of the award, DenHerder-Thomas received $6,000, half for his project and half to use as he wishes. The award ceremony took place on Tuesday, October 27, in California.
   “I am honored to receive this important award,” said DenHerder-Thomas. “I plan to use the funds for a Summer of Solutions national leadership gathering and related program development efforts to continue engaging young people in environmental stewardship and sustainable community development.”...
   DenHerder-Thomas was one of only two young leaders nationally to win this annual award. The second recipient was Chelsea Chee, a 25-year old Navajo woman and youth organizer for the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Arizona. Chee has been...
Navajo Lawmakers Place Tribal President on Leave
Arizona Central  -  26 OCT 2009
   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Navajo lawmakers voted Monday to place the tribe's president on administrative leave, pending an investigation into allegations of ethical, civil or criminal involvement with two companies that had been operating on the reservation.
   The Tribal Council voted 48-22 in favor of the measure during a special session in Window Rock, Ariz.
   The vote to place Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. on leave comes a week after council members discussed investigations and alleged legal violations arising from tribal contracts with Utah-based OnSat Network Communications Inc. and Shiprock, N.M.-based Biochemical Decontamination Systems. Shirley's spokesman says the council has yet to specify what the accusations again Shirley are....
A New Demand for Uranium Power Brings Concerns for Navajo Groups
Mining planned at a mountain considered sacred
Washington Post  -  25 OCT 2009
   ACOMA, N.M.-- Uranium from the Grants Mineral Belt running under rugged peaks and Indian pueblos of New Mexico was a source of electric power and military might in decades past, providing fuel for reactors and atomic bombs.
   Now, interest in carbon-free nuclear power is fueling a potential resurgence of uranium mining. But Indian people gathered in Acoma, N.M., for the Indigenous Uranium Forum over the weekend decried future uranium extraction, especially from nearby Mount Taylor, considered sacred by many tribes. Native people from Alaska, Canada, the Western United States and South America discussed the severe health problems uranium mining has caused their communities, including high rates of cancer and kidney disease....
Special Report: Desert Rock Debate Continues
Farmington Daily Times  -  25 OCT 2009
   NENAHNEZAD — Navajo Nation leaders are increasingly looking to the proposed Desert Rock power plant to surge the tribal economy as new environmental rules threaten operations at existing coal-fired plants, potentially costing hundreds of jobs and millions in tribal revenues.
   The Desert Rock Energy Project sets itself apart from other generating facilities on the Navajo Nation because the tribe intends to invest more than $350 million into it, earning a 25 percent share in the $4 billion power plant’s revenues that would provide millions in additional tribal income, said Doug MacCourt, representing the Diné Power Authority.
   Critics of the development, however, claim the alleged economic gains will not trump the health and environmental costs to be paid by the Navajo and other residents of the Four Corners over the lifespan of a third coal-fired power plant within a single 30-mile radius if all three exist....
Native American Uranium Miners Still Suffer, As Industry Eyes Rebirth
In These Times  -  24 OCT 2009
   ACOMA, NEW MEXICO—On the Navajo Nation, almost everyone you talk to either worked in uranium mines themselves or had fathers or husbands who did. Almost everyone also has multiple stories of loved ones dying young from cancer, kidney disease and other ailments attributed to uranium poisoning.
   The effects aren’t limited to uranium miners and millers; whole families are usually affected as women washed their husbands’ contaminated clothes, kids played amidst mine waste and families even built homes out of radioactive uranium tailings.
   For years the government has had a program to compensate uranium workers (and “down-winders” affected by nuclear weapon testing); and the federal government is slowly cleaning up contaminated land; but as evidenced at the Indigenous Uranium Forum here this weekend, the uranium industry that flourished in this region from the 1940s through 1980s continues to take a heavy toll on workers and their descendants. (An investigative piece in the LA Times shed light on the situation.)...
The Forgotten Navajo: A Family’s Pain
Pavement Pieces  -  16 OCT 2009
   BLUE GAP, Ariz.—As a young husband and father, Leonard Nez was proud to work in a uranium mine near his home in Blue Gap, Ariz. For the two years he worked in the mine, he made a good living for his family and was able to buy food and goods from the local trader. Because he lived so close, he even allowed the mining company to store their tools in his family’s shed. Oftentimes, he would come home with rocks so his children would see what kind of work he was doing, but Leonard had no way of knowing that these rocks would poison his family.
   “I never knew the risk I put myself in by working  for the uranium,” he said in his native Navajo language, as translated by his daughter Seraphina. “I know I returned home to my family contaminated with the uranium dust. I know I brought it home to my children. There were times I brought home rocks that were uranium, and I would put it on my windowsill for my kids to see the work I was doing. But I was unaware of the risk.“
   Since then, Leonard and his wife Helen have lost seven of their 11 children—all before they reached the age of 36.
   Six died from Navajo Neuropathy, a rare disease caused by exposure to radiation that primarily affects Navajo children. The disease attacks the peripheral nervous system. Symptoms include the shriveling of hands and feet, muscular weakness, stunted growth, infection and corneal ulcers. Forty percent of children affected die before they reach their 20s. The seventh child died from a miscarriage....
Navajo Lawmakers Hold off on Arizona Ski Resort Vote
AP  -  23 OCT 2009
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP)—Navajo lawmakers held off Thursday on a vote to secure an appraisal for a ski resort on a northern Arizona mountain the tribe considers sacred.
   Tribal Council Delegate Raymond Maxx introduced the bill with the intent of stopping a plan to use reclaimed water to make snow on the San Francisco Peaks. But he said wording in the bill to purchase the Arizona Snowbowl outside Flagstaff drew concern from fellow delegates.
   The Tribal Council voted 41-27 to refer the legislation to the Resources Committee for further review. Maxx said he and other co-sponsors plan to rework the measure and bring it before the council again as soon as Monday....
Commercialization of Sweat-lodge Ceremony Appalls Native Americans
Arizona Republic  -  22 OCT 2009
   The deaths of three people after a sweat-lodge ceremony near Sedona are bringing new attention to complaints that sacred Native American ceremonies are being commercialized and demeaned by the spiritual-growth movement.
   As details emerge of what happened in the sweat lodge, Native Americans are criticizing everything from the number of people who were in the tent-like structure to the fact that people paid to be there.
   "If you ask just about any Native American out there, they will be appalled by this," said Freddie Johnson, language and culture specialist at the Phoenix Indian Center. "It's disturbing to hear that there were three deaths from this so-called sweat lodge."
   About 60 people were crowded into a makeshift sweat lodge in the incident earlier this month, authorities said, as part of a spiritual retreat led by self-improvement guru James Arthur Ray. Participants paid $9,000 or more for the series of exercises and seminars....
Survivor's Story Offers Look Inside Sweat Lodge
First a 36-hour fast, then pressure in stifling heat
Arizona Republic  -  21 OCT 2009
   The leader of a Sedona-area sweat-lodge ceremony that left three people dead had encouraged participants to fight through the pain brought on by the extreme heat in order to achieve a higher level of consciousness, said an attorney for a southern Arizona woman who survived the ordeal.
   Before the ceremony, the leader, personal-development guru James Arthur Ray, had sent participants on a 36-hour outdoor fast in which they were denied food and water, the attorney said Tuesday.
   Sidney Spencer passed out in the two-hour sweat-lodge ceremony that Ray ran at the culmination of the "Spiritual Warrior" retreat, said her attorney, Ted Schmidt. She spent four days in a Flagstaff hospital with multiple organ failure, he said.
   Schmidt gave The Arizona Republic Spencer's account of the ceremony at the Angel Valley Retreat Center, the first description from a person who was inside the sweat lodge that day....
To Halt Snowmaking, Navajos Look to Buy Ski Resort
Arizona Central  -  21 OCT 2009
   FLAGSTAFF—The Navajo Nation wants to buy the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort to stop snowmaking on one of the tribe's most sacred mountains.
   The Navajo Nation Council voted on Wednesday to consider legislation that would allow the tribe to negotiate with the partners who own the resort outside Flagstaff, Arizona....
Another Survivor of Sweat Lodge Retreat Speaks
Arizona Central  -  21 OCT 2009
   FLAGSTAFF—More than 50 followers of spiritual guru James Arthur Ray had just endured five strenuous days of fasting, sleep-deprivation and mind-altering breathing exercises when he led them into a sweat lodge ceremony.
   It was supposed to be a religious awakening, the culmination of a $9,000-plus-a-person retreat outside Sedona, Ariz., aimed at helping people find a new vision for life. But it wasn't long before the ceremony turned into a terrifying experience.
   People were vomiting in the stifling heat, gasping for air, and laying lifeless on the sand and gravel floor beneath them, according to participant Beverley Bunn. One man was burned when he crawled into the rocks, seemingly unaware of what he was doing, she said.
   When participants exhibited weakness, Ray urged them to push past it and chided those who wanted to leave, she said. "I can't get her to move. I can't get her to wake up," Bunn recalls hearing from two sides of the 415-square-foot sweat lodge. Ray's response: "Leave her alone, she'll be dealt with in the next round."...
Opponent Says Hopi Tribal Council May Have a Hidden Agenda
Indian Country Today  -  19 OCT 2009
   KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz.—Accusing environmentalists of having an anti-Hopi agenda is a divisive “manufactured lie” by a pro-Peabody Western Coal Company tribal council, said a longstanding advocate for tribal control of Black Mesa, the site of massive strip mining operations.
   In fact, the Hopi Tribal Council itself may have a hidden agenda to convert two power plants – one operating, and one currently closed – under clean-coal technology, using an expanded coal mining permit to attract investors, he said.
   Vernon Masayesva, 70, a former Hopi tribal chairman, said the present tribal council’s action banning environmental groups from tribal lands is based on a lie that the groups are trying to shut down coal mining operations on the mesa in northern Arizona, noting, “We have never said that.”...
Tribes Should Look Beyond Coal Energy
Arizona Republic - Opinion  - 17 OCT 2009
   We agree with Hopi and Navajo concerns over economic development and job creation and their right to speak out. We also stand united in encouraging tribal leaders to embrace prosperity and health in the 21st century with clean, renewable energy. Considering that our fossil-fuel-based economy will eventually disappear, we believe it is time to look ahead.
   For too many years, Southwestern tribes have borne the loss of groundwater and the health impacts and destruction of our homelands from coal, while outside interests profited greatly. At the invitation of tribal communities, conservation groups have joined to help create a better path....
Navajo, Hopi Leaders Accuse Environmental Groups
Of Hindering Economic Development

Arizona Journal  -  14 OCT 2009
More controversy broke out last week over coal mining and development of the Desert Rock Energy Project on the Navajo Nation as President Joe Shirley Jr. criticized environmental groups, and the Black Mesa Water Coalition responded to his remarks.
   “I stand with the Hopi Nation. Unlike ever before, environmental activists and organizations are among the greatest threat to tribal sovereignty, tribal self-determination and our quest for independence,” Shirley said on Sept. 30. “By their actions, environmentalists would have tribes remain dependent on the federal government, and that is not our choice. I want the leaders of all Native American nations to know this is our position, and I would ask for their support of solidarity with the Hopi Nation in the protection of their sovereignty and self-determination, as well as ours.”
   According to Shirley, the Hopi Tribal Council recently approved a resolution that stated “environmentalists have worked to deprive the tribe of markets for its coal resources and the revenue it brings to sustain governmental services, provide jobs for Hopis and secure the survival of Hopi culture and tradition.”...
Hopi Tribe Bans Environmental Groups—Stirs Debate in Native Media
New America Media  -  13 OCT 2009
   PHOENIX, Ariz.—One week after the Hopi Tribal Council officially banned the Sierra Club and other environmental groups from their land, Native American journalists held a candid discussion about the controversy and how media could better cover environmental issues in their communities.
   “As a young person, I understand that we’re in this position of basically being economically dependent on our own cultural destruction,” said Jihan Gearon, an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network in Flagstaff, Ariz. “At the same time, I’m very upset that our tribal governments are still stuck in this position of thinking that’s the only thing that we could do.”
   The Hopi Tribal Council passed a unanimous resolution on Sept. 28, arguing that environmental groups were depriving the tribe of coal revenues it needs to secure the survival of the Hopi culture. They declared that the Sierra Club and several other groups were no longer welcome on Hopi land. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., announced that he stood with the Hopi Nation, and called environmental activists “among the greatest threat to tribal sovereignty.”...
Environmental Groups Respond Sharply to Their Ouster
Indian Country Today  -  11 October 2009
   KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz.—The battle waged against a major coal company by Hopi and Navajo activists and against large environmental groups by tribal officials has, at least temporarily, intensified the conflict playing out in northern Arizona over the control, preservation and use of cultural and natural resources.
   “I never thought I would see the day when being ‘Hopi’ meant being anti-environment, pro-big corporate energy, and actually promoting pollution and global warming in favor of ‘the almighty dollar,’” Alph Secakuku said....
Hopi People Are Environmentalists
by Bonnie Talakte, Hopi - The Arizona Republic - 10 OCT 2009
   It is important that the readers of The Republic not assume [that] the Hopi Tribe, as a whole, supports the recent resolution by the Tribal Council declaring environmental groups unwelcome on the Hopi Reservation.
   The decision to prohibit environmental groups has devastated many Hopi tribal members....
‘History Repeating’
Indian Country Today  -  09 OCT 2009
   I appreciate the opportunity to comment on the latest, unfortunate and embarrassing action of the “illegal council” of the Hopi Tribe. I say the “illegal council” because that is exactly what this group is. The Hopi Tribe’s Constitution clearly requires that the “tribal council shall consist of the Tribal Chairman and Vice Chairman.”
   Since Jan. 1, there has been no tribal chairman and no tribal vice chairman – so no tribal council. Simple as that! So the resolution this illegal group passed is not worth the paper it’s written on. And for that matter, all resolutions passed since Jan. 1 by this group have no force and effect....
Navajo Girl Shares Family's Dramatic Heritage
Prescott Daily Courier  -  03 OCT 2009
   In 1864, a young Navajo woman living in Black Mesa, Ariz., fought to protect her family from the efforts of the U.S. Army and scout Kit Carson to remove them from their land and send them to Ft. Sumner, N.M.
   One hundred and forty-five years later, another young Navajo woman walked in the footsteps of Yellow Woman, her great-great-great-grandmother.
   Camille Manybeads Tso is a 14-year-old freshman at the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy. Home-schooled until she enrolled in FALA, Camille used the skills she learned from an Outta Your Backpack Media Native American youth workshop to make a 27-minute docudrama, "In the Footsteps of Yellow Woman."...
Environmental Groups, SW Tribes Stand Together
to Promote Clean, Renewable Energy

Sierra Club, Tribal Partnerships Program  -  02 OCT 2009
   FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – As Hopi and Navajo leaders in the American Southwest evaluate their energy policies, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups remain committed to working with their tribal partners to find clean energy solutions that work for everyone.
   "We are proud of our longstanding partnerships with tribal leaders in the Southwest, and we are committed to supporting efforts to transition from dirty coal to clean energy solutions," said Sierra Club President Allison Chin. "Together, we can rekindle our economy, reduce greenhouse gases and support people who have been left in the dust by a dangerous and dirty, coal-based economy."...
Navajo Leader Seeks Grant for Power Plant
Santa Fe New Mexican  -  01 OCT 2009
   ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)—Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. is seeking a federal grant to help pay for equipment designed to capture carbon emissions from a proposed coal-fired power plant on tribal land.
   Environmentalists, the state of New Mexico and some Navajos have voiced concerns about the $3 billion Desert Rock Energy Project, saying a third coal-fired plant in the Four Corners region would compromise air quality, human health and the environment....
Hopis Say Conservationists Unwelcome on Tribal Land
The Arizona Republic  -  29 SEP 2009
   The Hopi Nation's Tribal Council sent a message Monday to the Sierra Club and a handful of other environmental groups: Stay off the reservation.
   Tina May, a council spokeswoman, said council members meeting in Kykotsmovi unanimously adopted a resolution declaring that the conservation groups are unwelcome on Hopi lands because they have damaged the tribe's economy by pushing for closure of a coal-fired power plant near Page.
   The resolution says environmentalists have "spread misinformation" about Hopi water and energy resources, attempting to "instill unfounded fears into the hearts and minds of Hopi public."...
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