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Gary Red Owl, right, a descendant of Santee Chief Cut Nose, receives
an apology letter from Jeff Bolton, the Vice President and Chief
Administrative Officer of the Mayo Clinic, at the Ohiya casino and
Resort on Friday, Aug. 31. Ryan Soderlin / The
SANTEE, Neb. — The important looking man walks to the front of the
room. In the crowd, the important woman and the 50 others fall
The crowd is mostly in jeans and T-shirts, including several that
say, “Exiled Indian.”
The Important Man is wearing pressed slacks and an ironed dress
shirt. He glances at his notes and clears his throat.
“It’s a tremendous honor to be here with you today,” he says.
The Important Man’s name is Jeffrey Bolton. He’s a bigwig at the
most famous hospital in the United States. He flew on an airplane
from Rochester, Minnesota, to this Santee Sioux Reservation in rural
northeast Nebraska to say what has gone unsaid for the past 156
The Important Woman sitting in the crowd is named LeAnn Red Owl. She
and many Red Owls in the audience today are the descendants of the
great warrior Marpiya Okinajin, commonly known as Cut Nose. These
Santee Dakota people hitched rides and drove in used cars from as
far away as Omaha to be inside this casino conference room.
They are here to hear what they have needed to hear for the last
seven generations since the Mayo Clinic treated their ancestor’s
body like a hunter might treat a deer head he mounts on his wall.
“The Dakota people and the Mayo Clinic are connected,” Bolton says.
“History can also bind us in broken ways. We acknowledge our role in
that broken relationship.”...
Desert Mountain Energy Corp. recently leased more than 3,000 acres
near Petrified Forest National Park. The company, which already
leases 37,000 acres of state land, plans to expand its existing
helium operation. File photo by Jesse Stawnyczy/Cronkite
PHOENIX – A Canadian energy company will add to its helium operation
with more than 3,000 acres of newly leased federal land near
Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. But an
environmental group and Arizona U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran worry that
operations could threaten key water sources and at least two
Desert Mountain Energy Corp. of Vancouver purchased two oil and gas
leases auctioned by the Bureau of Land Management late last week,
paying $2 an acre. The company already leases nearly 37,000 acres of
state land in the nearby Holbrook Basin, where the company has found
seven helium deposits so far. Helium is critical to manufacturing,
technology and aerospace industries.
Arizona does not have a rich history of natural gas deposits, but
the oil and natural gas rights to land in the basin are a hot
commodity to energy developers who believe “Arizona is the Saudi
Arabia of helium.”...
"Too Precious to Mine" Uranium Mining in Havasupai Homelands
The issue of nuclear power is not only an issue of the Navajo
Nation, who suffered for decades because of uranium mining. All
people should be informed about the risks of uranium, nuclear
weapons and the whole nuclear fuel chain, states International
Uranium Film Festival’s Director Norbert G. Suchanek. In an effort
to keep people informed and aware, particularly during this critical
time of escalating nuclear threats, the International Uranium Film
Festival returns to the U.S. Southwest.
Following screenings in Berlin Germany, the U.S. Southwest tour of
the 2018 International Uranium Film Festival will begin at the
Navajo Nation Museum with screenings in Window Rock, Navajo Nation,
USA scheduled for November 29th and 30th and December 1st. The
Festival travels to Flagstaff, AZ for December 2nd screenings, then
on to Albuquerque, NM for December 6th screenings. Grants, NM will
host December 7th screenings with the Festival’s touring closing in
Santa Fe on December 9th.
We are currently selecting the films which will comprise the
International Uranium Film Festival. We especially encourage Native
American and women filmmakers to send their films about uranium
mining or any nuclear issue to the Festival. The selected films will
be shown not only in the Navajo Nation Museum but also in venues in
Flagstaff, Albuquerque, Grants and Santa Fe. The best productions
will receive the Uranium Film Festival´s award in Window Rock. For
additional information on the submission process, contact Norbert G.
Suchanek, General Director at:
Activist Cedar George-Parker addresses a crowd protesters opposed to
the Trans Mountain Pipeline in British Columbia in April. Darryl
Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
The flyer shows a mob of balaclava-clad activists dressed in black,
lobbing bottles at an undefined target. They could be protesting
anything, but for attendees at a petroleum industry conference in
Houston earlier this year, it was pretty clear what the violent
demonstrators were targeting: the fossil fuel industry.
The scary image of protesters was distributed by Welund North
America, a private intelligence firm that promises to help oil and
gas operators mitigate the threat posed by an increasingly
sophisticated activist movement. On the back of the flyer an
anonymous testimonial reads, “Since subscribing to Welund we’ve
dramatically increased our ability to pre-empt and better manage
activist engagements and minimize reputational damage.”
Logos—presumably of Welund’s clients—listed on the flyer include a
who’s who of Big Oil and Gas: Royal Dutch Shell, Kinder Morgan, Duke
Energy, Dominion, and Chevron. Welund has even secured contracts
with the Canadian government.
In the past year, Welund has presented at several energy industry
conferences and has also partnered with the Texas Independent
Producers and Royalty Owners Association—or TIPRO—to promote its
intelligence-gathering services. The company bills itself as a
leader in “understanding the activist threat” and in the past has
provided intelligence on social movements and activist groups,
including Greenpeace, Occupy Wall Street, and animal rights
Welund and its top North American officials ignored repeated
requests for interviews and did not to respond to detailed written
questions. But publicity materials and other documents reviewed by
Mother Jones shed light on the company’s strategies....
The company depicts the environmental movement as one of the energy
industry’s most dangerous adversaries—comparable to the challenges
posed by international industrial espionage. “What we’re talking
about here is an existential threat,” Moran told the audience of oil
and gas executives in Houston....
This story was originally published by High Country News, and is
reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Uranium, it’s now part of Navajo DNA. With over 500 abandoned
uranium mines on the Navajo Nation, people living near these mines
are exposed daily to radiation exposure at a rate several times
higher than normal background radiation. Last week, President Donald
Trump announced he was summarily reducing the Bears Ears National
Monument by 85 percent, thereby opening archaeologically rich sites
to uranium mining.
Over the past two months, at administrative chapter houses adjacent
to Bears Ears, 98 percent of Navajos voted in support of the
national monument designation. These voters are likely voting for
more than the protection of sacred sites. Many are likely also there
for a say in the future of the uranium mining that has plagued
Navajo communities since World War II, when the development of the
atom bomb created a demand for yellowcake.
From the 1940s to the 1980s, 30 million tons of uranium were
extracted from mines on the Navajo Nation. Today, more than 500
abandoned uranium mines remain on the reservation, which stretches
27,000 square miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon past
Gallup, New Mexico, and north to the San Juan River in Utah,
poisoning the water and carrying in the dust. Only one mine has been
cleaned up. It is estimated that total cleanup will cost between $4
billion to $6 billion and could take a century to complete. A recent
study by researchers from the University of New Mexico found 85
percent of Navajo homes had uranium contamination, and Navajos
living near these mines have higher levels of uranium in their bones
than 95 percent of the American population. Even infants have been
found to have uranium in their urine.
In a penetrating series of articles on uranium mining’s legacy in
the Navajo Nation, published by the Arizona Republic in 2014, Lillie
Lane, the Navajo Nation’s Environmental Protection Agency outreach
coordinator, told the newspaper the radiation has tainted their
chromosomes. “I think we are still in the infant stages of seeing
what the impacts are in the gene pool of the Navajo people,” she
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Trump have tried not to
portray the shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante as
energy issues. In his announcement at the Utah Capitol steps in Salt
Lake City, Trump did not mention “energy dominance,” a favorite
phrase. Zinke told reporters prior to the announcement his review
was “not about energy.”
Maybe that’s true. In fact, a gaffe the previous week, in which
Trump used a ceremony honoring the Navajo Code Talkers for their
service as a chance to take a political swipe at Sen. Elizabeth
Warren, D-Mass., by again calling her “Pocahontas,” reminded Indian
Country that this wasn’t all about energy.
Hiding behind the fig leaf of “local” concerns, Trump expressed
outrage at how the monument is allegedly preventing rural families
in San Juan County “from enjoying their outdoor activities.”
This turn of phrase inevitably brings to mind Ryan Bundy, son of the
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy who led an armed standoff against the
Bureau of Land Management, for which he and several of his sons are
presently being tried on federal charges in Nevada. Ryan and his
brother Ammon famously led a second armed takeover in 2016 of the
Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and have also been active
in Utah. Ryan led armed ATV riders in 2014 over ancient Puebloan
villages in San Juan County during a protest organized by County
Commissioner Phil Lyman in protest of the closure of an illegally
created road through the ruins. In April, Zinke announced the
opening of some of these sites (although not the trail Bundy
protested) to motorized traffic, citing the right of people with
disabilities to have access to them.
Lyman (who was convicted of a misdemeanor for his role in the ATV
ride) was on stage with Trump last week for the announcement. Trump
flattered Utah Republican leaders who flanked him onstage, including
Gov. Gary Herbert, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Rep. Rob Bishop. All have
been staunch opponents of Bears Ears, a groundbreaking monument
proposed by five Indigenous nations: Navajo Nation, Hopi, Zuni, Ute
Mountain Ute and Uintah and Ouray Ute.
So in that way, the monument isn’t about energy. But in another way
it is, especially when it comes to uranium. During Zinke’s review of
27 national monuments, the Utah legislature submitted a 49-page
comment claiming Bears Ears National Monument would destroy the
state’s uranium industry.
On Friday, the Washington Post broke the story that Energy Fuels
Resources, owners of the Daneros Uranium Mine and the White Mesa
Uranium Mill, had lobbied the Interior Department to reduce the
monument because it impeded their business interests in the area,
effectively refuting Zinke and Trump’s claims energy interests did
not play a role. In a May 2017 letter to the Interior, the company’s
chief operating officer, Mark Chalmers, urged the monument be
reduced because there are “many known uranium and vanadium deposits
located within the newly created (Bears Ears National Monument) that
could provide valuable energy and mineral resources in the future.”
The monument has many inactive uranium mines and unused mining
leases that are not being used due to a poor market for uranium. But
one mill, the White Mesa Uranium Mill, is still of concern....
Good riddance to San Francisco’s “Early Days” statue
SAN FRANCISCO — The International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
celebrates a victory with the removal today of a racist statute
known as the “Early Days Monument” depicting the colonization of
California. The statute has been located at 147 Fulton Street in San
Francisco, the site of the historic Ohlone village of Yelamu.
In a unanimous vote on the evening of September 12, the San
Francisco Board of Appeals decided to deny the appeal made by one
individual from the Sausalito area and to allow the statue’s removal
as long demanded by Indigenous Peoples and organizations including
the IITC. On hearing the decision, Bernadette Smith (Manchester Band
of Pomo) stated, “My people are up here crying their hearts out and
speaking their minds of things that matter. I am glad we are here
today in solidarity, so that we can remove it as one people.”...
A couple embraces as authorities prepare to shut down the main
Dakota Access Pipeline protest camp in Cannon Ball, N.D.
Here’s a good-governance aphorism for the ages: If you want to
foster an atmosphere of trust and transparency—and if you truly have
nothing to hide—then don’t hide stuff.
It’s such an obvious point. And yet it’s one that has somehow
managed to elude the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
So what’s the Corps hiding? Its
reassessment of the potential environmental impacts of the
Dakota Access oil pipeline, or DAPL, ordered by a federal judge in
2017. (You probably recall the
massive demonstrations and
international outcry that took place beforehand.) Under the
terms of the court order, the Corps was instructed to reexamine
whether a leak in the pipeline would pose a disproportionately high
risk to the Standing Rock Sioux’s “distinct cultural
practices”—which, in this case, include the ability of its 8,000
members to obtain food and water from the Missouri River and Lake
Two weeks ago, the Corps finally took a step toward
compliance—albeit insufficiently and insultingly. It released
a two-page memo summarizing its reassessment but refused to
release the actual report on which the memo is based, citing an
ongoing “confidentiality review.” And the gist of this memo? We
looked at the whole thing again more closely, Your Honor, just like
you told us to. And we stand by our earlier assessment: It’s all
That’s it. No publicly available backup, no explanatory details, no
further justification provided....
The owners of an Atchafalaya River Basin property are suing the
company building the Bayou Bridge Pipeline (https://topics.nola.com/tag/bayou%20bridge%20pipeline),
claiming that Energy Transfer Partners illegally seized and damaged
private land on the oil pipeline's route.
Filed in 16th District Court in St. Mary Parish on Wednesday (Sept.
12), the lawsuit challenges Energy Transfer's (https://www.energytransfer.com/)
assertion that it has the right to take portions of private property
to build the 163-mile pipeline. Energy Transfer has justified its
use of expropriation, a process similar to eminent domain, by
claiming the pipeline is in the public's interest.
Attorneys representing the owners of the 38-acre wetland property
say the pipeline is "actually contrary to the public interest,"
noting Energy Transfer's history of spills and leaks with other
pipelines, the oil industry's contribution to erosion on the
Louisiana coast and global climate change.
"Bayou Bridge's attempt to expropriate this land is not only a
violation of the rights of the hundreds of property owners who share
a stake in these precious wetlands, but it's a grave environmental
threat to this vital ecosystem," Theda Larson Wright, one of the
landowners, said in a statement.
Energy Transfer did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
The lawsuit comes two days after
Energy Transfer agreed to halt construction on the property,
which the owners say was damaged by tree removal and other pipeline
construction activities. The agreement was reached Monday, just
before a judge was scheduled to hear an injunction property owners
had filed against Energy Transfer. The injunction asserted that the
company illegally trespassed and began construction without formally
starting the expropriation process.
The New York-based
Center for Constitutional Rights, which is part of the legal
team representing the landowners, claims Energy Transfer is not the
proper entity to exercise land seizures for the public good, and did
not undertake a "thorough, good faith effort to locate and negotiate
with landowners as required by law before starting expropriation
proceedings," CCR said in a statement....
The San Francisco Board of Appeals voted unanimously on Wednesday to
remove a controversial statue that activists say is “racist” and
demeaning to Native Americans.
The “Early Days” statue, which was erected in 1894, depicts a fallen
Native American man at the feet of a Spanish cowboy and a
missionary. The statue is one of five that comprise the Pioneer
Monument in San Francisco, which commemorates the settling of the
“This has been a tough 30-plus years. But this is wonderful,” Dee
Dee Ybarra, an Ohlone tribal leader, told the San Francisco
Native American activists have pushed for decades to have the statue
removed, an effort that saw renewed energy amid the nationwide
debate over Confederate monuments. Critics have long said the
sculpture inappropriately celebrates the oppression of Native
The board’s vote on Wednesday overturned a decision not to remove
the monument earlier this year. The city’s Arts Commission
originally proposed removing it after the deadly white supremacist
rally in Charlottesville, Va., which unfolded around the proposed
removal of a Confederate statue....
Tara Sweeney, the newly-installed Assistant Secretary for Indian
Affairs, poses with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke at
Department of the Interior headquarters in Washington, D.C. Photo:
Less than two months into the job, the new leader of the Bureau of
Indian Affairs has set an ominous tone for the Trump
administration's dealings with tribal nations.
Tara Sweeney, the recently-installed Assistant Secretary for Indian
Affairs, issued a decision on Friday that paves the way for a
reservation to be taken out of trust for the first time since the
termination era. The victim in this age of self-determination and
sovereignty is the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, whose homelands in
Massachusetts are now on the chopping block.
But the People of the First Light aren't accepting Washington's
dictate without a fight. An emergency council meeting is taking
place at tribal headquarters on Monday to address what Chairman
Cedric Cromwell described as an "unbelievably grave injustice.'
"We have been on this land for 12,000 years and we are not going
anywhere," Cromwell declared after receiving the negative decision.
Key to the effort is legislation in Congress which would prevent the
reservation from being taken out of trust. With the executive branch
willing to walk away from any responsibilities, passage of the
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act appears to be
the only hope for success.
“The decision by the Trump administration to move forward with
denying the Mashpee Wampanoag a right to their ancestral homeland
and to keep their reservation is an injustice," Sen. Ed Markey
(D-Massachusetts) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), the
sponsors of S.2628, said in a joint statement on Friday.
"America has a painful history of systematically ripping apart
tribal lands and breaking its word," the lawmakers added. "We cannot
repeat that history."...
Navajo and Hopi groups target Avenue Capital Group in New York
City on September 10, 2018 over its interest in Navajo Generating
Station. CREDIT: Tó Nizhóní Ání
In a steady rain, more than a dozen Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe
members protested Monday outside the New York City offices of Avenue
Capital Group, a private equity firm that wants to purchase the
coal-burning Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in Arizona.
They had traveled from their homes in northern Arizona to oppose the
private equity firm’s proposed acquisition of NGS, the largest
coal-fired power plant in the western United States, and to advocate
for clean forms of energy in the Four Corners region.
The facility — which spews tons of the most hazardous air pollutants
— was on its way to shutting down in 2019. But Avenue Capital
Group’s interest in purchasing a majority stake in the plant has
brought new life to the highly polluting facility.
The current operator of NGS — the Salt River Project — has suggested
keeping the coal plant open past 2019 will result in losses
exceeding $130 million annually. Avenue Capital Group likely could
profit from its purchase of NGS only through some combination of
federal subsidies and cuts to jobs, health, and safety protections,
Protesters demonstrate along Market Street at Fifth Street and
Cyril Magnin Way before the Global Climate Action Summit led by Gov.
Jerry Brown at Moscone Center. Activists say the fight against
climate change should be given maximum urgency.
Photo: Liz Hafalia / The Chronicle
Hundreds of activists snarled commute-heavy traffic, picketed or
simply sat in yoga poses outside the Parc 55 hotel in San
Francisco’s clogged downtown Market Street area Monday morning, the
first weekday leg of what promises to be a rocky series of protests
against this week’s Global Climate Action Summit.
Monday’s main goal was to deliver an open letter to Gov. Jerry
Brown’s Climate and Forest Task Force, demanding that local and
indigenous protest representatives be given a seat at the table.
They were partially successful: About 10 of them were allowed inside
the hotel, where the task force was meeting, to read the missive out
“I think the tone was still somber” after the letter was delivered,
said Cindy Wiesner, national coordinator for the Grassroots Global
Justice Alliance, one of the organizations participating in the
demonstrations. “The goal was to actually talk to Jerry Brown
directly and, of course, that did not happen.”
The rally came two days after thousands of people marched through
San Francisco to demand action on “climate, jobs and justice,” and
three days before a scheduled march and “mass action” near Jessie
Square between Market and Mission streets, near the Global Climate
Action Summit at Moscone Center, as well as other actions throughout
Ariel Begay disappeared in 2017. Her case highlights the many
hurdles families of missing indigenous people face.
he first day that Jacqueline Whitman’s daughter didn’t come home,
she wasn’t that worried. It was last summer, the Fourth of July.
Twenty-six-year-old Ariel had headed out the day before with her
boyfriend, who had picked her up at the three-bedroom house she
shared with her mother, her grandfather, and five of her six
siblings at the eastern edge of the Navajo reservation in Arizona.
She called the next afternoon, telling Jacqueline she’d try to make
it home for dinner. She didn’t, but she’d texted the family. (“You
jerks,” it said. It was what she always affectionately called them.)
The second day that Ariel didn’t come home, she called her cousins,
telling them she was in a town just off the reservation with some
friends. But she didn’t call her sister Valya’s three-year-old son,
which she usually did every day. On the third and fourth days that
Ariel didn’t come home, she didn’t call anyone. And she wasn’t
active on Facebook, which was highly unusual. She was always on
Facebook. She didn’t respond to texts, and calls to her phone went
straight to voicemail.
By the fifth day, Jacqueline was starting to panic. If Ariel didn’t
come home that night, she decided, she was going to call the police.
Valya made some posters with Ariel’s picture on them, but she didn’t
put them up at first; she felt a little ridiculous. “She’s going to
come home,” Valya kept thinking. “When Ariel comes home, she’s going
to say, ‘Why did you do this? You’re silly.’”
But Ariel didn't come home....
As of 2016, the Navajo Generating Station was the 11th biggest
producer of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according
to the Environmental Protection Agency. (Eflon/Flickr)
PAGE, Ariz. – Members of the Navajo Nation are in New York City
Monday to call attention to the fate of the biggest coal power plant
in the West.
The Navajo Generating Station in Northern Arizona is set to close
next year. But New York investment firm Avenue Capital Group is
considering buying it.
The coal plant provides hundreds of jobs to Navajo people and is a
major source of revenue for the tribe. This is critical on the
Navajo reservation where unemployment is around 45 percent. So, many
Navajo support the sale and continued operation of the plant.
But Nicole Horseherder, executive director of the Navajo
environmental group To Nizhoni Ani, says the coal plant has led to
air and water pollution, and health consequences for her neighbors.
"I think it's important for people out there to know that the type
of jobs and the type of revenue we need is one that doesn't kill
people and doesn't kill the environment,” she states. “So to those
people that are concerned about the jobs and revenues, we are also
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The company building an oil pipeline through
environmentally sensitive south Louisiana agreed Monday to
temporarily halt the project on one piece of private land while
a legal dispute plays out.
Environmentalists hailed agreement, saying it will delay
completion of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline at least until after a
November hearing on company efforts to obtain the property
through a process called expropriation. However, Energy Transfer
Partners in Dallas, the majority owner of the project, said in
an email that the agreement will not affect the timing of the
project's completion. It has said in court records it expects to
complete construction by October.
The agreement announced in St. Martin Parish followed the filing
of a state court lawsuit by landowner Peter Aalestad. It said
evidence showed Bayou Bridge Pipeline LLC had already begun
tree-clearing and other construction preparation without
Chief Stanley Charles Grier of the Piikani Nation hands over a
declaration to Yellowstone National Park Deputy Superintendent Pat
Kenney. Nate Hegyi/Mountain West News Bureau
On a cold January day more than a century ago, U.S. troops massacred
nearly 200 Piikani people on a Montana river bank. Most were women,
children and old folks.
"It's hard to imagine," Chief Stanley Charles Grier of the Piikani
Nation in Alberta, Canada said.
The people killed were his ancestors and accounts of the massacre
are brutal. Soldiers killed a mother breastfeeding her baby. They
shot sick people hiding under blankets.
"Survivors were basically executed by axes," Grier says. "That's
The man who helped perpetrate this massacre was Army Lt. Gustavus
Doane. He later went on to explore parts of Yellowstone and his
compatriots named Mount Doane after him. The name stuck, and Grier
wants to change it.
"Lieutenant Doane led that attack and fully implemented the
massacre," he says. "We feel that's an atrocity to humanity and it's
essentially a war crime."...
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Oyate) and the Fort Belknap
Indian Community (Assiniboine (Nakoda) and Gros Ventre (Aaniiih)
Tribes) in coordination with their counsel, the Native American
Rights Fund, on September 10, 2018, sued the Trump Administration in
the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana, Great Falls
Division, for numerous violations of the law in the Keystone XL
pipeline permitting process. The Tribes are asking the court to
declare the review process in violation of the Administrative
Procedure Act (APA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA),
and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and to rescind the
illegal issuance of the Keystone XL pipeline presidential permit.
On March 23, 2017, the U.S. Department of State granted
TransCanada’s permit application and issued it a presidential permit
to construct and operate the Keystone XL Pipeline. This decision
reversed two previous administrative decisions and was done without
any public comment or environmental analysis....
JOIN US on the frontlines by emailing
email@example.com with your
name, phone number, why you want to come to camp, when you will be
arriving and how long you plan on staying. We will respond with the
directions to camp and what to bring.