August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tohono O'odham government kept secret plan for US spy towers on tribal land

Tohono O'odham government kept secret tribal resolution allowing Border Patrol to view 14 O'odham sites for US spy towers

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News copyright

US spy tower on Tohono O'odham land south
of Sells, Ariz. 2007
Oct. 16, 2012
The US Border Patrol has targeted the Tohono O’odham Nation with spy towers at 14 potential sites in three districts, according to a tribal resolution that opened the door for a massive network of US spy towers on tribal land.

Tohono O’odham members fighting against the militarization of their lands, and abuse of O’odham by US Border Patrol agents, say they were never told of the tribal resolution which initiates the process of these US spy towers on sovereign Tohono O'odham land.

The Tohono O’odham legislative council passed a resolution in April, which was signed by Tohono O‘odham Chairman Ned Norris on April 16, 2012, granting access to US Border Patrol officials for initial site visits in three districts. Since the Tohono O’odham Council does not allow outside news reporters in its council sessions, information often remains secret.

The April tribal resolution describes the Integrated Fixed Tower Program. The resolution says the 180 feet towers would remain subject to the laws of both the US and the Tohono O’odham Nation. These laws include environmental, cultural resources, realty and other laws.

However, during the building of the border wall vehicle barrier on the Tohono O’odham Nation, all federal laws were waived, including US environmental and cultural laws. The remains of O’odham were dug up and removed by Boeing workers.

This is the second time that Homeland Security approved spy towers on the US/Mexico border and on Tohono O'odham land. The first $1 billion boondoggle on the border was halted when Homeland Security said the wifi and surveillance towers did not work. Those towers were contracted to Boeing, with a subcontract to the Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems who also provides spy technology and security at another border known for Apartheid, the Palestine border.

In the tribal resolution, the Tohono O’odham Nation agreed to allow the US Border Patrol to visit three districts with the intent of constructing spy towers at 14 potential sites. Those districts are Chukut Kuk, Hickiwan, and Gu-Vo districts. Two council delegates opposed the spy towers.

The resolution states that after district approval, the towers must be approved by a second tribal council resolution. Then Border Patrol must proceed with other compliance regulations, including NEPA, 106 NHPA and environmental laws. All US and tribal laws must be adhered to before construction begins on the towers, states the resolution.

However, already at least two US spy towers have been constructed on Tohono O’odham land. Earlier, one was constructed south of Sells. The latest one is also south of Sells on Tohono O’odham land, on the border at The Gate.

Tohono O’odham living on their homeland have reported constant harassment and abuse by US Border Patrol agents to the United Nations. The abuse by Border Patrol agents includes beatings, spying on women at night, holding women at gunpoint, driving at high speeds and endangering O’odham safety, and terrorizing O’odham communities with threats, intimidations, physical and verbal abuse. Tohono O’odham reported the abuse to the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples during an April session in Tucson.

The US Border Patrol also plans a massive Border Patrol complex on Tohono O’odham land in Pisinemo District, with Border Patrol agent dormitories, helicopter launch pad, horses and dogs. It was kept secret from Tohono O’odham community members until the draft environmental impact statement was reported by Censored News in September.

Nationwide, hundreds of Border Patrol agents have been arrested for crimes in recent years, including rape, murder, conspiracy and drug running.


LIVESTREAM Indigenous Real Climate Solutions

Listen to speakers above from the NO REDD TOUR, Real Climate Solutions, held in Berkeley on Oct. 16, 2012. Tom Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network begins the discussion. Thanks to Govinda at Earthcycles for the live broadcast and archive! Thanks to IEN, Friends of the Earth and other sponsors.

Listen to Indigenous voices
Watch live
Govinda is broadcasting live from the NO REDD Tour, Real Climate Solutions, in Berkeley,
tonight, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, with the Indigenous Environmental Network, Friends of the Earth, and more.
Indigenous Peoples’ territories harbor most of the world’s remaining biodiversity and intact forests; under the guise of emerging climate policies, these territories are being targeted as ‘carbon sinks’ to allow industry to continue polluting. Emerging forest-carbon deals such as the agreement linking California with Chiapas, Mexico, and Acre, Brazil, threaten to undermine indigenous sovereignty, to privatize forests, and to commodify the sacred.
Hear from Indigenous leaders working to protect community land rights and promote equitable, rights-based climate solutions that respect traditional knowledge and the principles of environmental justice.
6:30-7:00 – Light refreshments and networking
7:00-7:30 – Screening of A Darker Shade of Green: REDD Alert and the Future of Forests
7:30-9:00 – Presentations from Indigenous leaders
  • Tom Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network
  • Berenice Sanchez (Nahua, Mexico)
  • Santiago Martinez (Tzeltal, Chiapas, Mexico)
  • Marlon Santi (Quichua, Ecuador)
  • Gloria Ushigua (Zapara, Ecuador)

LEAKED Interior wants to sneak Navajo water settlement through Lame Duck Congress

Navajos and Hopis protesting Senators John McCain
and Jon Kyl in Tuba City during water rights session.
Outta Your Backpack Media photo
Interior Secretary plans meeting with Navajo officials to try and revamp Colorado River Settlement to sneak it through Lame Duck Congress

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News copyright

US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wants to push the Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River Water Rights Settlement, already rejected by Navajos, through an upcoming Lame Duck Congress, according to a document leaked to Censored News.

The memo from the Navajo Nation Washington Office states there will be a meeting on Nov. 14 in Washington, between Salazar and Navajo and Hopi officials to discuss the water rights settlement, along with the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal fired power plants in the US which Navajo and US politicians want to remain in operation.

Already numerous Arizona Indian Nations have accepted “water rights settlements,” which opponents say are the theft of Indian water for the US, pushed through by non-Indian attorneys. Those opposing the Little Colorado River settlement say it requires the Navajo Nation to give up expansive water rights under the Winter’s Doctrine and future generations of Navajos would suffer.

The current scheme involves Salazar meeting with Navajo and Hopi officials, then persuading Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl to modify the legislation that has already been rejected and push it through an upcoming Lame Duck session of Congress following the elections.

The Navajo Washington Office letter states, "The Secretary believes that if the Tribes can come to agreement on the portions of the settlement that raised the most objections, he can convince Senator Kyl to  make changes to the settlement. If the settlement can be changed there may be a window of opportunity for passage during the upcoming 'Lame Duck' Congress after the November election."

The letter from the Navajo Washington Office is addressed to Navajo President Ben Shelly and Navajo Council Speaker Johnny Naize.

In the typical heavy handed style of US bargaining and political blackmail, Salazar says in his letter to the Navajo Speaker that they will also discuss housing in the Bennett Freeze area, where Navajos live in desperate conditions.

A primary reason that the US wants the water from the Little Colorado River is to keep the Navajo Generating Station operating, a leading source of global warming. The coal fired power plant on Navajoland near Page, Ariz., was founded on the abuse of Navajos. An attorney for Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute in order to remove more than 14,000 Navajos from Black Mesa through relocation, so that Peabody could get to the coal.

Today, Peabody coal from Black Mesa fuels the Navajo Generating Station which provides power to Southwest cities, while many Navajos live without electricity. Phoenix and Tucson are now dependant on this electricity and desperate for Indian water. Coal mining depletes the aquifer on Navajoland, while most Navajos on Black Mesa live without running water.

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