August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Los Angeles: Halt removal of Tongva remains

News updates: http://news.google.com/news/more?pz=1&cf=all&as_qdr=w&as_drrb=q&cf=all&ncl=d6lywj_51BxKjNMjnse7B7IpTkr5M
Removal of more than 90 Historic Human Burials at the La Plaza de Arte and Cultura, 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. For more info email : drmartin@fas.harvard.edu

LOS ANGELES: Halt Desecration and Removal of Tongva Remains

TO: Members of the Los Angeles Community
FROM: Members of the Gabrielino (Tongva) Community
DATE: January 5, 2010
RE: Removal of 90+ Historic Human Burials at the La Plaza de Arte and Cultura, 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

The Background
“LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes at El Pueblo Historic Monument is a multi-million dollar museum dedicated to showcasing and preserving the history of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles. The museum is housed within the historic Vickry-Brunswig and Plaza House Buildings next to Our Lady Queen of the Angels Church (commonly known as "La Placita")...(Molina 2011)” LA Plaza is scheduled to open on April 15, 2011 (Painter 2010). This project is the pet project of Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, First District.

The LA Plaza (see http://www.lapca.org/) is located at 501 North Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012 and is within Los Angeles's first consecrated cemetery (LA Cultural Monument #26). The cemetery contains the remains of not only early Spanish and Mexican settlers but also the Native Americans to whom they were intermarried. The cemetery opened in 1822 and closed in 1844 when it was determined that the lot was too small. According to the Los Angeles Archdiocese and other documents, the remains were to have been removed and re-interred at Calvary Cemetery.

In 2004, Los Angeles County approved LA Plaza's Final Environmental Impact Report prepared to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Project refinements were proposed thus an Addendum to the Final Environmental Impact Report was prepared and approved by the County on September 28, 2010 (Sapphos 2010).

The Facts
In late October of 2010 while beginning work for the Campo Santo Memorial Garden, human remains were uncovered (Painter 2010). Over 40 sets of remains were initially removed and “bagged” while trenching with a backhoe for a fountain, a fountain that is to celebrate the history of the Mexican-American people.

As remains continued to be encountered, an archaeologist was brought on-site to continue with the removal with contextual and archaeological information inadequately collected and/or destroyed. Over 90+ remains have been removed to date.

On Dec 29, 2010, an archaeologist employed by the Sanberg Group notified the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) of the discovery of possible Native American remains. The remains were interred with beads and a obsidian “biface” (Letter, Meyers to Hernandez, January 4, 2010). The NAHC has attempted to investigate the discovery but has yet to get a response from the responsible parties.

An informant on site stated that the project is “being rushed”, and that the rest of the remains need to be removed within ten days. This is a directive that is being given by Daniel Mendoza the on-site foreman and ultimately coming from Gloria Molina's office and the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Mr. Mendoza is acting as community contact and incidentally, also happens to be the brother-in-Law of Gloria Molina.

The Issue
Once human remains were encountered, possible descendants should have contacted in order create a plan for appropriate removal and reburial. The Los Angeles Archdiocese has a list of those that were interred at the cemetery. This did not happen.

Additionally with the discovery of possible Native American remains, the NAHC should have been contacted by the project proponent, as per the California Health and Safety Code § 7050.5, so that a Native American Most Likely Descendant could be designated. This did not happen.

The Irony
This museum is supposed to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of the Mexican and Mexican-American communities to the development of Los Angeles. However, the fact that these early settler burials, the very people the Museum is supposed to be honoring, are being removed in secret is ironic. The excavation of this cemetery in a rushed, haphazard and unscientific way, without community involvement, is a travesty.

Additionally, the possibility that Native American remains are being removed without participation of the Gabrielino (Tongva) Nation is illegal under California law. Although the LA Plaza opening on April 15, 2011 is imminent, this is no reason to desecrate burials or inadequately document this important part of history. Not only is the Mexican and Native American pasts being destroyed, but also the past of all Los Angeles's citizens.

What You Can Do
Please contact the following people, offices and public entities to ask why these burials are being hurriedly removed, why the most likely descendants have not been contacted regarding the removal, why the archaeological information is not being properly documented, why those who are doing the work are not professionally trained archaeologists with experience removing human burials. Tell them if they really want to celebrate the accomplishments of the Mexican and Mexican-American people, they need to do right by the early settlers and Native American ancestors interred in the cemetery.

City of Los Angeles
Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor
200 North Spring St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 485-2121
Fax: (213) 978-0750
mayor@lacity.org





County of Los Angeles
Dawn McDivitt, Chief Executive Office-Capital Projects
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Gloria Molina
Los Angeles County Supervisor, First District
Hall of Administration Office
856 Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration
500 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 974-4111
Fax: (213) 613-1739
gmolina@bos.lacounty.gov

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Foundation
Miguel Angel Corzo, President and CEO
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes Foundation
1055 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 800
Los Angeles, Ca 90017
(323) 260-3412

Daniel Mendoza
1055 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 800
Los Angeles, Ca 90017
(323) 260-3412

Mexican Cultural Institute
Armando Vazquez-Ramos, Board President
Board of Directors, Mexican Cultural Institute
CSULB Chicano & Latino Studies Dept.
California-Mexico Project Director

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Bishop Edward W. Clark
Our Lady of the Angeles Pastoral Region
3424 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2202
(213) 637-7000
info@la-archdiocese.org
Bibliography



Associated Press
2010 Crews unearth bones at downtown LA historic site. Signon San
Diego. November 9, 2010.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/nov/09/crews-unearth-bones-at-downtown-la-historic-site
ccessed January 5, 2011.

Los Angeles Department of City Planning
2009 Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) Report.
http://cityplanning.lacity.org/complan/HCM/dsp_hcm_result.cfm?community=Central+City ,
accessed January 5, 2011.

Los Angeles Department of City Planning
2010 Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) List
http://www.preservation.lacity.org/files/HCMDatabase111510_0.pdf



, accessed January 5, 2011.

Molina, Gloria
2011 “About Gloria Molina: Biography”
http://molina.lacounty.gov/PDFs/About%20GM-BIO.pdf, accessed January
5, 2011.

Painter, Alysia Gray
2010 Plaza de Cultura y Artes Opening Set. NBC Local Media.
http://www.nbclosangeles.com/around-town/events/La-Plaza-de-Cultura-y-Artes-Opening-Set-102966004.html ,
accessed January 5, 2011.

Sapphos Environmental, Inc
2010 Addendum to the Environmental Impact Report for LA Plaza de
Cultura y Artes. http://file.lacounty.gov/bos/supdocs/56770.pdf



,
accessed January 5, 2011.

Halt Grand Canyon uranium mining


Public comment sought for Grand Canyon uranium mining
Press statement
Photo: Havasupai gathering to halt uranium mining in the Grand Canyon/Photo copyright Brenda Norrell
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.- The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) will host a public meeting January about plans to permit three uranium mines that threaten the wildlife and ecology of Grand Canyon National Park. A meeting will be held in Flagstaff at 6 p.m. at the Sinagua Middle School auditorium, on Thursday, Jan. 6 at the same location. Sinagua Middle School is located at 3950 E. Butler Ave. You can also submit comments via E-mail to: http://www.azdeq.gov/cgi-bin/vertical.pl?t=search&kewerd=public. The deadline for comments is: January 14, 2011.
Denison Mines, a Canadian- and Korean-owned mining firm, is seeking state air permits for the Pinenut and Canyon uranium mines and air and aquifer protection permits for the EZ uranium mine. The agency is proposing to permit the EZ mine with a general aquifer-protection permit that includes far fewer requirements than an individual permit.
"Given the potential threat to the groundwater and ultimately the seeps and springs of Grand Canyon, it is outrageous that the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality is not requiring the most stringent protections," said Alicyn Gitlin with the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter.
The proposed air permits require mine operators to report violations and emergencies within 24 hours of learning of toxic releases but include no emergency procedures for containing releases, alerting the public or containing uranium spilled during ore-hauling accidents. Ore from the Canyon mine would be hauled through Williams, Flagstaff and Cameron.
The mines are located within the 1 million-acre watershed of the Grand Canyon that the Obama administration has proposed as off-limits to mining. That proposal followed concerns by tribes, scientists, businesses, local governments and conservation groups that uranium mining around Grand Canyon could harm wildlife, industrialize wildlands and deplete or contaminate aquifers that feed the Grand Canyon's seeps and springs.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued more than 60 citations since 2009 relating to operations at Denison's Arizona 1 mine north of Grand Canyon and the company's Pandora uranium mine in Utah, where there was a mining fatality earlier this year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation to Denison in 2010 for starting the Arizona 1 mine without obtaining Clean Air Act permits relating to radon emissions. Conservation groups and tribes are suing the Bureau of Land Management in federal court for allowing Denison to open the Arizona 1 mine in 2009 without updating 1980s-era mining plans and environmental reviews.
"Neither the state nor the feds - nor Denison - can ensure that mining won't permanently damage Grand Canyon's aquifers, and they can't ensure such damage can be fixed if it does occur," said Taylor McKinnon with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Those aren't risks that should be taken."
A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey report examining the impacts of uranium mining on Grand Canyon concluded that: "Uranium mining within the watershed may increase the amount of radioactive materials and heavy metals in the surface water and groundwater flowing into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River, and deep mining activities may increase mobilization of uranium through the rock strata into the aquifers. In addition, waste rock and ore from mined areas may be transported away from the mines by wind and runoff."
It found radiation levels and toxic substances were consistently higher on mined sites compared to unmined sites north of Grand Canyon; it also found uranium concentrations exceeding EPA drinking-water standards in 15 springs and five wells related to past mining.
Walter H. Begay
Environmental Scientist I / Environmental Engineer I
Salt River Project - NGS
Phone: 928-645-6411
Fax: 928-645-6234
Email:
Walter.Begay@srpnet.com