August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Monday, April 2, 2012

To' Baa Yadetti Water Talks Dine' Summit

John Redhouse 'Red Truth, White Cover-up' at Black Mesa

Red Truth, White Cover-up

How the Udalls, Sierra Club and white environmentalists sold out Navajos and Hopis on Black Mesa

"They may be the white environmentalists' heroes but they aren't our heroes just like Kit Carson and John Collier are not our heroes." -- John Redhouse

By John Redhouse, Navajo
Censored News

As a Navajo and Indian rights activist since 1969 and an active member of the Navajo and Indian environmental movement since 1970, I can say that Rob's (Rob Smith of Sierra Club) version of the Udall-Brower compromise is a gross misrepresentation and distortion of what really happened back then.

Stewart and Morris Udall's roles in the compromise are well documented in my 1980 "The Navajo Hopi Land Dispute: Its Energy Aspects and Implications", 1980 "Who Is Behind the Navajo Hopi Land Dispute", and 1985 "Geopolitics of the Navajo Hopi Land Dispute." Sierra Club guru David Brower's role was a big part of the compromise.

Behind closed doors, they (Udall brothers and Brower) met with energy and water industry captains to come up with the infamous Plan B Alternative to the proposed Grand Canyon hydroelectric dams. In 1969-70, I was a member and field representative of the National Indian Youth Council and worked with many Navajo and Indian rights organizations, including the Chinle-based Committee to Save Black Mesa and the Los Angeles Chapter of the United Native Americans.

The Committee to Save Black Mesa (Mitch Fowler, Robert Salabye, Verna Harvey, Annie Kahn, Alice Luna, Elvira Burnside, Ben Barney, Miriam Crawford, Leroy Keams, Kee Shelton's Mother, and others) was organized in the summer of 1970 to work and fight against the opening of the Black Mesa Mine and later the Kayenta Mine. The LA Chapter of UNA (Stella Montoya, Felix Montoya, and others) also worked with the Committee and Hopi traditionalists (Mina Lansa, John Lansa, Thomas Banyacya, David Monongye, and others) who were also opposing and resisting the coal mining which began in 1970.

Later, when the Black Mesa strip-mining issue became "sexy", white environmental groups like the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Central Clearing House, Black Mesa Defense Fund of Santa Fe (which attracted anti-Navajo, anti-Indian environmentalists like Edward Abbey and David Foreman), and other Johnny-come-lately enviros got involved in the issue.

Like today, those off-reservation, non-Indian groups raised a lot of money off our plight to "save" Black Mesa while CSBM, UNA LA chapter, and the Hopi traditionalists had a hard time raising funds because the major foundations and rich environmental philanthropists like Harvey Mudd were already funding the white groups. So in terms of resource allocation and equity, it was the same old shit then as it is now.

Historically, it was also like the livestock reduction era (the Second Navajo Holocaust). Pseudo liberals like John Collier used their bullshit white environmental science to determine that we had too many sheep and that soil erosion from alleged overgrazing (I have several research publications addressing this fallacy) was going to flood Boulder Dam with rez silt. So they slaughtered over half of our subsistence livestock herds just like they brutally slaughtered the buffalo in the Great Plains. The forced livestock reduction campaign was brutally carried out like Kit Carson's scorched earth policy which led to the First Navajo Holocaust (Long Walk to Fort Sumner--America's First Concentration Camp which reportedly inspired Hitler).

The aforementioned Plan B Alternative was based on the same of kind of racist conservation thinking behind the stock reduction. The alternative is the lesser of two evils and Indians--like livestock--are sacrific-able anyway. So for us always the sacrificial lambs in the Grand Plan, the power and water industry AND elite environmentalists like Dave Brower are the right and left hands of the same Euro-American beast.

And so Black Mesa, our sacred female mountain and physical and spiritual embodiment of our most beloved Mother Earth, and the sweet female ground waters of the holy Navajo Aquifer were brutally mined and depleted. And the Black Mesa and Kayenta Mines, Black Mesa Pipeline, Black Mesa-Lake Powell Railroad, Navajo Generating Station, Central Arizona Project, and other mega urban-industrial monstrosities were all erected on that sacrifice.

The resulting genocide (from forced mass relocation) and ecocide are part of Stewart Udall's legacy, Morris Udall's legacy, Dave Brower's legacy.

They may be the white environmentalists' heroes but they aren't our heroes just like Kit Carson and John Collier are not our heroes. What Rob is not saying is that the Sierra Club did not act to prevent but instead deliberately allowed the Dave Brower co-brokered compromise to happen. SC did not oppose the Plan B Alternative or its implementation until it was too late.

And the only reason they opposed it later than sooner was that the "Rape of Black Mesa" issue had unexpectedly become vogue and trendy in the national white environmental movement in the early 1970s.

Also during the late 1960s and early 70s, the very progressive Sierra Club was actively opposing the Havasupai Tribe's campaign to reclaim their ancestral homeland in sacred Grandmother Canyon and on the Coconino Plateau. During that time, SC was also lobbying hard against Taos Pueblo's long but eventually successful legislative campaign (much to the chagrin of the white boys club) for the return of sacred Blue Lake. Even President Nixon supported the pueblo nation and signed the historic legislation in the presence of Taos Pueblo leaders and elders in a special White House ceremony.

I'm on a roll and I'm tempted to say some unkind things about Andy's so-called Tribal Partnership Program and Bill's $50 million-a-year-plus Beyond Coal Campaign but I will hold those thoughts--for now. I usually don't get this worked up and come forward like this but what Rob said on the Udall/Brower compromise was not accurate.

And I know that many of our beautiful young people (especially the dedicated Black Mesa youth of BMWC and TNA) were not even born during the time of the compromise (actually it was a white environmental movement sell-out) but yet had to grow up with its environmentally devastating consequences and are now doing their very best to undo the damage and to challenge the continuing coal and water mining threats to Mother Big Mountain and her sisters from Navajo Mountain to the Navajo Buttes and from the Navajo Aquifer to her sister aquifer to the south.

The young people, the next generation, those faces who were not yet on the earth but who we were working and fighting for in the 1960s and 1970s deserve to know the truth today by a native activist who was around then. And their continued environmental work on the mesa is a dream come true for this old-timer. Speaking of which, time for this grouchy elder to have another cup of coffee and pour it in my saucer as usual...

Also see: Frackin blood money: Sierra Club and Tex Hall

Frackin blood money: Sierra Club and Tex Hall

Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa land, choking on pollution.
Photo Brenda Norrell 2011
Selling out: Frackin blood money for the Sierra Club and Tex Hall

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The Sierra Club admits it accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, while Chairman Tex Hall, of the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa Nation, continued his push for fracking and the rape of Mother Earth. Hall pushed against fracking regulations designed to protect the land and water.

In 'Breaking Up with the Sierra Club,' Sandra Steingraber said the Sierra Club admitted secretly accepting $25 million from the fracking industry between 2007 and 2012 and most of it came from Chesapeake Energy.

Steingraber wrote, "... more than a month has past since your executive director, Michael Brune, admitted in Time magazine that the Sierra Club had, between 2007 and 2010, clandestinely accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, with most of the donations coming from Chesapeake Energy. Corporate Crime Reporter was hot on the trail of the story when it broke in Time."

Continuing his push for the destruction of his homelands, Chairman Hall fought new regulations to protect the environment and the people.

The Minot Daily News in North Dakota reports, "Tex Hall told members of the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies in Washington, D.C., that the BLM's proposed regulations on hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, will hurt energy development on Indian reservations."

Last summer, Indigenous Peoples from the Americas gathered on the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara homelands in North Dakota at the Indigenous Environmental Network gathering.

The roads were jammed with heavy trucks, the air polluted with dust and fumes, and the entire region fouled with pollution. It looked like a scene from a war movie. When local tribal members described their fight to protect Mother Earth and how friends had been killed by those heavy oil and gas trucks, there were no reporters from either the mainstream media or the national Native American media, there to report it.

The media, too, is to blame for the continuation of this blood money in Indian country.

In Washington, the media is all too happy to report on what tribal leaders say to Congressional committees, without ever going out and actually talking to the people who live on the land.

With the collapse of the news media, online news websites repost these one-sided corporate articles without undertaking real journalism. The motives of these news websites -- which undertake no journalism -- include gains from advertising and the promotion of gambling.

Meanwhile, AP and other reporters continue to report their racist message to the joys of the corporations. They convey this message: The only way Indian Nations can obtain revenues or jobs is to rape the earth and pollute their land, water and air, with coal fired power plants, oil and gas drilling, toxic dumps, and other destructive and disease producing industries.

The corporations and the spin masters, and the lazy news reporters, have far more cash on their hands than the grassroots Native Americans fighting the destruction of Mother Earth.

Chesapeake's destruction to the environment is from Powder River in Wyoming to Oklahoma and Texas, to the northeast United States. Now, Sierra Club is a partner in that destruction.

Hall is among those responsible for the destruction of the environment, and what has happened to the people as a result, on the Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara Nation. Hall rose to national popularity with the aid of a good speech writer, and is now using that fame to destroy his land, water, air and his own people.

Western Shoshone against Disenrollment WeSAD battle for rights

WeSAD (Western Shoshone against Disenrollment)
Lois Whitney (775) 340-9897, Myron Tybo (775) 744-4574 and Lydell Oppenhein (775) 635-9064
Posted at Censored News

Native People are the only people in the United States who have to prove their birthright with an “enrollment number” in order to belong to a certain band. On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Shoshones filled the Elko Band Council Chambers to protest the disenrollment process.  Since 2003, numerous Shoshone elders, children, and general population have been cruelly disenrolled by the Enrollment Committee. Through heated discussions, unconstitutional actions were questioned.  Reasons for the protests were the failure of the enrollment committee to abide by the ex post facto law thus destroying the citizenship of Shoshone people.  Ex post facto is defined as making laws backwards in time.

The Te-Moak Tribal Council is made up of representatives from four bands: Battle Mountain, Elko, South Fork and Wells. Several challenged the two Elko Band Council members stating there were only two ways a person could be disenrolled: 1) voluntarily relinquishing their membership, 2) dual enrollment with another tribe.

During the last several weeks, the Western Shoshone against Disenrollment (WeSAD) has worked tirelessly to challenge the disenrollment process because hundreds of Shoshone people have lost citizenship through disenrollment. Disenrollment to Shoshone populations means a loss of identity, benefits, the right to homes, land assignments, health benefits, the right to vote and run for office and employment under the Indian Preference law.

Genocidal actions throughout the century have taken its toll on the language and perhaps 50% of the band council understood the Elder who questioned passionately (in Shoshone language) the motive of the band council to act contrary to their primary goal to assist members, instead of destroying their rights. However, the majority of the Shoshone audience understood and applauded the Elder for speaking out. The majority agreed disenrollment was unlawful and spoke in opposition of this harsh action.

Letters have been received by tribal people notifying them of disenrollment because of an “error.” These people were requested to bring papers documenting ancestry. However, the “Enrollment” Committee (who made the initial decision) were the same people the “disenrolled” tribal members were instructed to “appeal” to; consequently, the Shoshones were being robbed of due process.

As a final point, the Elko Band Council took a vote to halt the disenrollment process and reinstate tribal individuals’ rights to membership which met with jubilation from the crowd. In a surprise move, the Elko Band Council also took a vote to remove those Te-Moak representatives who did not represent the decision of the Elko Band Council. The other band councils opposed the disenrollment actions through formal resolutions sent to the parent council, the Te-Moak Tribal Council. Next step for WeSAD will be to present information in front of the parent council, the Te-Moak Tribe, at the regularly scheduled meeting April 4, 2012

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