Video: Putting in the Nisqually River weir

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Pulling a several ton weir into the Nisqually River is a big job. It takes a few days.


Nisqually River weir deployment from NW Indian Fisheries Commission on Vimeo.

Nisqually River weir deployment from NW Indian Fisheries Commission on Vimeo.

The weir will be used by the Nisqually Indian Tribe later this summer to sort and count salmon as they migrate up the Nisqually River.

10 Ways Excrement Can Save the World

 Dung beetles, which navigate their poop balls via starlight, must be onto something.

Dung beetles, which navigate their poop balls via starlight, must be onto something.

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Euphemistically known as waste-to-energy, the possibilities afforded by excrement are, well, excremental. David Waltner-Toews, a veterinarian, epidemiologist, scientist and author, wrote The Origin of Feces: What Excrement Tells Us About Evolution, Ecology, and a Sustainable Society, as well as other books about the intersection of humans and nature and its relationship to development. He recently outlined 10 ways that the use of such waste could do everything from promoting energy self-sufficiency to improving drinking water.

These concepts are not new in Indian country. Witness the technical assistance grant earlier this year bestowed by the U.S. Department of Energy on the Ho-Chunk Nation of Black River Falls, Wisconsin, to develop a one- to two-megawatt biomass waste-to-energy plant. “The plant could potentially use municipal solid waste, agriculture waste or other biomass resources to offset tribal facility energy costs,” the DOE said in a press release in May. (Related: Ten Tribes Receive Department of Energy Clean-Energy Technical Assistance)

Those dung beetles must be onto something. (Related: Insect Astronomers: Milky Way Guides Dung Beetles to Roll Poop Balls in Straight Line)

1. Energy self-sufficiency could be within our grasp if we would just compost the waste.

“If half the livestock manure in the world were used to produce energy, it could replace about 10 percent of current fossil fuels and save countries billions of dollars,” Waltner-Toews writes. This could be derived from a process that is sort of composting on steroids, which is to say, “produced from manure and other organic materials through a process of decomposition and bacterial fermentation.” The leftover compounds could also be used to make fertilizer.

2. Keep those trees standing.

People could burn manure instead of wood, the author says, which would prevent deforestation.

3. Pull Mother Earth back from her tipping point.

Create methane using anaerobic biodigesters, which would also be used for list item number one, to reign in the amount of the noxious gas that makes it into our atmosphere. “Manure-based anaerobic biodigesters create, contain and use methane as fuel to cook, heat homes and run vehicles.” Bonus: Getting rid of a greenhouse gas that’s 23 times worse than carbon dioxide in terms of the impact on global warming.

4. Better food (no, you don’t have to eat sh*t).

Manure + farming = food for animals. Fish and cattle are little alchemy machines, transforming chicken manure into protein, Waltner-Toews points out.

5. Better drinking water.

The more manure that gets processed out of the methane-polluting mix, the fewer water supplies will be contaminated.

6. A healthier public.

All those doggie fecal flakes lying around get into waterways and food supplies, Waltner-Toews notes. They spread disease and parasites and increase child mortality. “By channeling the poop through digesters and/or composters, we kill most of the pathogenic bacteria and parasites.”

7. Poop knowledge is power.

Excrement conveys information to those willing to translate. This can help gauge the health and well-being of wildlife, especially endangered species, and teach us a lot about their habits and lives.

8. Togetherness.

No, this does not entail a group bathroom hangout. But researching ways to use manure as energy could unite farmers, scientists and other industries in partnership.

9. Poop: the great equalizer

Although there are some who would appear to be more full of sh•t than others, Waltner-Toews points out that humans produce about 120 pounds of excrement, be they bombastic dictators or just plain old us. “Everybody produces more or less the same amount of excrement, regardless of religion, ideology, sex, sexual orientation or economic status,” Waltner-Toews writes. “If this were acknowledged, quantified and used to produce energy and fertilizer, we could publicly celebrate each person’s contribution to the global economy.”

10. Jumpstart the dialogue.

Now that we understand that all that foul-smelling stuff is actually the stuff of life, we can find ways to integrate excrement production into public life via sustainable urban and rural planning—“and, yes, save the earth for another generation to explore, delight in, and wonder about.”

Read the full David Waltner-Toews on 10 Ways Poop Can Save the World at, a website created by publishers and industry leaders for book lovers. And see the author’s website here. He has written numerous books, all equally inspiring.



County Says Harvest Camp Is Illegal, Awaiting County Board Decision

Mary Annette Pember, Indian Country Today Media Network

The Iron County Forestry Committee met today, July 23 in a closed session to consider how the county should proceed regarding the Penokee Harvest Camp in the nearby Penokee Hills. Joe Vairus, head of the Iron County Forestry and Parks department has issued this statement via e-mail, “Here was the motion made by Scott Erickson, supported by Bill Thomas. With regard to the harvest camp, in light of the failure to obtain proper permits to occupy County Forest the Committee recommends that the County Board authorize pursuit of criminal and civil action to enforce County ordinances and to fulfill the County’s obligations under state law.”

The vote was unanimous.

Members of the Lac Courte Orielles Ojibwe tribe and supporters who are opposed to the creation of an open pit iron ore mine planned by Gogebic Taconite (GTAC) established the camp this past spring.

The Committee’s recommendation must go before the Iron County Board of Supervisors for a final decision. The next board meeting is on July 30 in Hurley at 6 p.m.

Harvest camp residents and LCO chairman Mic Isham maintain that camp residents are exercising their rights to hunt, gather and fish under treaty rights on the ceded territory.

Iron County Forestry officials, however, maintain that treaty rights do not extend to camping. Therefore, the Harvest Camp is bound by county rules limiting camping to 14 days.

As reported in a previous story, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has oversight on such issues. RELATED: Who is Illegal in Wis. Mining Country? Harvest Camp or GTAC?

Although DNR attorney Quinn Williams indicated that the state has identified concerns regarding the camp, the office won’t take action until Iron County has made their final decision.



Harvest Camp Fate Rests in Today’s Decision

Mich. Mining & Wis. Mining – A Blanket Unites Them

Racism & Violent Threats: Wis. Mining War Gets Uglier and Scarier

Black Bag Operation Spooks Paramilitary Guards at Wis. Mining Site

Make Frybread, Not War; Harvest Camp Uses Food to Spread Message

Fighting Mines in Wisconsin: A Radical New Way to Be Radical

Wisconsin Tribes: What Part of ‘No Mining!’ Don’t You Understand?

Eco-Terrorism or Diversionary Tactics at Harvest Camp?


Think you can’t afford an EV? Think again

By Claire Thompson, Grist

It’s easy to see the electric car as a symbol of the kind of offbeat elitism often associated with eco-conscious living — the rich man’s veggie oil-powered VW bus, if you will. But that could change as the industry starts going Model T on EVs, making them more affordable for the masses. Automakers are now offering an array of discount leases and perks that, when combined with government tax incentives, make EV ownership accessible for a much broader segment of the population.

Owning an electric vehicle automatically slashes drivers’ fuel costs by as much as 80 percent. But it’s the up-front cash that presents a barrier to most prospective buyers, not to mention the lack of widespread charging infrastructure. Of course, growing ranks of EV drivers would spur the construction of more charging stations and attract still more electric converts. But with so few choices on the market, none of them wildly affordable, it’s hard to get that cycle started.

Until now. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Bronson Beisel, 46, says he was looking last fall for an alternative to driving his gas-guzzling Ford Expedition sport utility around suburban Atlanta, when he saw a discounted lease offer for an all-electric Nissan Leaf. With $1,000 down, Mr. Beisel says he got a two-year lease for total out-of-pocket payments of $7,009, a deal that reflects a $7,500 federal tax credit.

As a resident of Georgia, Mr. Beisel is also eligible for a $5,000 subsidy from the state government. Now, he says, his out-of-pocket costs for 24 months in the Leaf are just over $2,000. Factor in the $200 a month he reckons he isn’t paying for gasoline to fill up his hulking SUV, and Mr. Beisel says “suddenly the car puts $2,000 in my pocket.”

Beisel also got a charging station installed at his house for no up-front cost. He’s spending less than $15 a month so far for the electricity needed to power the Leaf. That means that, including charging costs, he’s paying no more than $1,180 a year to drive his EV around town. Compare that to the $9,000 per year it costs to own and operate a typical gas-powered car.

Beisel compared the deal to “a two-year test drive, free.” Another Leaf driver is taking that approach literally:

Matt Brooks, a software engineer in Rochester, N.Y., says he decided to replace a hybrid Prius with a Leaf because the lease was so cheap. He’s paying $239 a month for 24 months with no money down. Mr. Brooks says he likes the car, but doesn’t expect to buy it when the lease is done. Used Leafs are selling below the purchase price written into his lease, he says.

Manufacturers are under pressure to comply with state regulations like California’s, which requires that by 2018, 4.5 percent of cars sold in the state be zero-emission vehicles; by 2025, 15 percent. Only the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla Model S sold more than 1,000 cars during the first quarter this year. But discount leases like the ones Brooks and Beisel have could help those numbers rapidly accelerate.

In an effort to ramp up production and lower costs, Nissan is increasingly manufacturing the Leaf and its pricey battery packs at factories in Tennessee instead of in Japan (creating American jobs in the process). This helped drop the 2013 Leaf’s starting price ($28,800) by $6,400 compared to last year’s model.

Of course, the one major drawback of EVs is that they’re primarily city cars because most roads still lack charging stations. That’s why many EV owners still keep a gas guzzler around for out-of-town trips. But one automaker has a solution to that problem: As part of the $32,500-plus cost of its new 500e electric, Fiat USA offers 12 days a year of free access to a gas-powered rental car. So unless you’re planning a truly epic road trip, you don’t need to own a second car in order to hit the highway.

And hey, if a guy with a name as bro-y as Bronson Beisel, not to mention a veteran New York cabbie, can proudly pilot an electric car, they’re clearly not just for highfalutin hippies anymore.

Myron Astsosie Begay Sr.


Myron Astsosie Begay Sr.
Born November 16, 1960
Died July 16, 2013

Myron was an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and grew up in New Mexico, attended Haskell Indian College where he met Jo Ann Patrick, after college they married and started a family; they were married for 26 years.

Myron worked in the Tulalip Poker room for many years.
Myron passed away unexpectedly at his Tulalip home, he leaves behind his wife, Jo Ann; two aunts, Leta and Mary; brothers, Anthony Smith, Mike Smith, Robin Smith, Bernie Williams III and Francis Williams, Sr.; two sisters, Debbie and Carmelita; and his sons, Myron Begay, Jr., Nathan Begay, Daniel Begay, Sundance Begay, Eagle Begay. Myron and JoAnn opened their home to many of their sons’ friends, many they considered their kids as well.

Myron and JoAnn have two granddaughters, Dorothy Williams and Patricia Alice Begay Contraro.

Services will be held at Schaefer Shipman funeral home. A Viewing will be held Thursday, July 18, 2013 at 6 p.m. with Services on Friday, July 19, 2013 at 8 a.m. Final resting place at Tulalip cemetery.


Local fleets report massive fuel savings in 2012

Nearly 14 million gallons of petroleum avoided through alternatives and efficiency measures

Source: Western Washington Clean Cities

SEATTLE, Wash (July 19, 2013) – Through Western Washington Clean Cities initiatives, over 75 local fleets collectively eliminated the use of 13.6 million gallons of petroleum in 2012. By switching to cleaner, alternative fuels and implementing efficiency measures, these fleets also reduced $38 million in spending on foreign oil and prevented the emission of more than 93 thousand tons of greenhouse gas pollution.

“We’re really proud of our partners and members,” said Stephanie Meyn, program manager for the Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition. “Each of them has taken calculated risks and demonstrated tremendous leadership toward advancing regional goals to sustain the natural beauty, economy and public health of the Pacific Northwest.”

The Western Washington Clean Cities Coalition is a not-for-profit membership organization dedicated to expanding the use and availability of alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies in the Pacific Northwest. Western Washington Clean Cities is one of the nearly 100 coalitions in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative.

“A primary goal of Western Washington Clean Cities is to reduce the amount of foreign oil consumed by fleets in our region each year,” said Meyn. “We do this by educating fleets about alternatives such as biofuels, compressed natural gas, propane, and electricity – and helping them find the technology and financing partners to help make the switch.”

Each year, Western Washington Clean Cities measures the progress of its members and partners by collecting data on the amount and type of fuel used by their fleets. The U.S. Department of Energy sets a target for each Coalition to reduce petroleum use by 16 percent per year over the previous year. The 2012 Survey showed that Western Washington members reduced petroleum use by more than 33 percent compared with 2011.

“In 2012 our partners really embraced electric vehicles,” observed Meyn. “More than 10 percent of our fuel savings are a result of fleets switching to electric vehicles. We also noted an uptake in propane vehicles – with police fleets, appliance repair and elevator maintenance companies among those moving to propane.”

“There’s a groundswell of enthusiasm for sustainable vehicle technologies in Western Washington,” said Meyn. “With this kind of growth, and with the added boost of rising fuel costs, we expect to further surpass our goals in 2013.”

2012 Western Washington Clean Cities Partner Accomplishment:

  • 13.6 million gallons of petroleum displaced. Local fleets switched to electric, biodiesel, ethanol, hybrid, propane and natural gas vehicles, saving millions of gallons in foreign oil.
  • 93,448 tons of greenhouse gases reduced. The increased use of alternative fuels and fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles has helped achieve significant reductions in regional greenhouse gas pollution.
  • $38 million in spending on foreign oil reduced. By not purchasing foreign oil, Clean Cities partners instead invested in local fuels and technologies, supporting local jobs and economic growth.
  • For information about Clean Cities members and projects, visit:




Precedent Setting Ruling In Canada Against Hudbay Minerals

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chaman's widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals, Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez/

Angelica Choc, Adolfo Ich Chaman’s widow, announcing one of three lawsuits against HudBay Minerals, Inc. (2010) Photo: James Rodriguez/

By John Ahni Schertow, Intercontinental Cry

In a precedent-setting ruling that has national and international implications, Ontario Superior Court Justice Carole Brown has ruled that three separate lawsuits against the Canadian mining company HudBay Minerals can proceed to trial even though the plaintiffs are from another country.

“As a result of this ruling, Canadian mining corporations can no longer hide behind their legal corporate structure to abdicate responsibility for human rights abuses that take place at foreign mines under their control at various locations throughout the world,” said Murray Klippenstein, of Toronto’s Klippensteins, Barristers & Solicitors, who’s representing 13 Maya Qeqchi from El Estor, Izabal, Guatemala.

The Maya Qeqchi turned to Canada’s court system over three separate injustices that were carried out by employees of the Fenix Mining Project, a nickel mine that was acquired by HudBay Minerals after the company purchased Skye Resources in 2008.

In January 2007, Skye Resources (subsequently renamed HMI Nickel) requested the eviction of five Maya Qeqchi communities from their ancestral lands.

At the time, the Fenix project was subject to land claims by the local communities, who maintained that Guatemala breached international law by approving the mining concession because it failed to carry out prior consultations.

“With the force of the army and police”, observes Rights Action, “company workers took chainsaws and torches to people’s homes, while women and children stood by. The mining company claimed that they maintained ‘a peaceful atmosphere during this action.’”

As if it wasn’t enough to displace the Maya Qeqchi families, on January 17, 2007, 11 women from the community of Lote Ocho were gang raped by the police, military and security personnel.

In their lawsuit against Hudbay, the women are seeking $1 million each in compensation for the pain and suffering they’ve endured, in addition to another $4 million in punitive damages because of the “extreme and heinous nature of the attacks against them.”

The second lawsuit against Hudbay is led by Angelica Choc, the widow of Adolfo Ich Chaman. A respected community leader, a school teacher and father, Adolfo was brutally murdered by the company’s mine security. Their son, José, who witnessed the killing, says the security guards hacked at Adolfo with a machete before shooting him in the head. Adolfo was trying to help restore calm in the region after hearing gunshots from the direction of the company’s buildings.

A third lawsuit was filed for German Chub, a young father who was shot at close range by the head of the security personnel the very same day that Adolfo was murdered. As a result of the injuries that he sustained, German Chub was paralyzed and no longer has use of his right lung.

“There will now be a trial regarding the abuses that were committed in Guatemala, and this trial will be in a courtroom in Canada, a few blocks from Hudbay’s headquarters, exactly where it belongs,” said Mr. Klippenstein. “We would never tolerate these abuses in Canada, and Canadian companies should not be able to take advantage of broken-down or extremely weak legal systems in other countries to get away with them there.”

“Today is a great day for me and all others who brought this lawsuit,” said Angelica Choc. “It means everything to us that we can now stand up to Hudbay in Canadian courts to seek justice for what happened to us.”

“This judgment should be a wake-up call for Canadian mining companies,” added Cory Wanless, co-counsel for the Mayas along with Mr. Klippenstein. “It is the first time that a Canadian court has ruled that a claim can be made against a Canadian parent corporation for negligently failing to prevent human rights abuses at its foreign mining project. We fully expect that more claims like this one will be brought against Canadian mining companies until these kinds of abuses stop.”

For more information about the claims, visit:

Teachers’ ‘typical work day’ coming under scrutiny

Jerry Cornfield, The Herald

Those wondering what public school teachers do all day are going to get an answer.

Tucked deep in Washington’s new two-year budget is money for a study to find out what a “typical work day” looks like for thousands of teachers toiling away in the state’s 295 school districts.

Lawmakers specifically want “an estimate of the percent of a teacher’s typical day that is spent on teaching-related duties and the percentage of the teacher’s day that is spent on duties that are not directly related to teaching.”

They’ve asked Central Washington University’s respected College of Education and Professional Studies to figure it out for a paltry $25,000.

Researchers there intend to use much of the next school year to collect details of teachers’ daily lives in small, medium and large schools in all corners of the state.

Using logs, surveys, interviews or other means, they will try to reveal how teachers pass the hours, a subject of much debate in an unending political inquest of public education.

“It’s an old question that no one has ever answered with data,” said Linda Schactler, director of public affairs for the Ellensburg-based university. “We’ve answered it with anecdotes. We think we know but we haven’t actually done the research.”

It’s hard to not sit through a legislative hearing on the quality of Washington schools without a champion of education reform insisting the system is failing students because teachers are not spending enough time teaching.

This is followed by a rebuttal from a teacher-type saying they can’t spend more time teaching because it is tied up on tasks required by the state like compiling reports and conducting tests.

Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, proposed the study by the university because he was tired of listening to the back-and-forth in front of the House Education Committee on which he serves.

While he thinks teachers are weighted down by state-imposed chores, he wanted to find out if it’s actually true.

“I got frustrated at the unfunded mandates,” he said. “During the session there were some folks trying to add requirements to the teacher’s work day. I said they’re full.”

He and two teachers who serve on the House panel — Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, and Rep. Steve Berquist, D-Renton, — are going to help design the study.

A full report is due in December. However, lawmakers are likely to give them until the end of the school year in order to track time expended for testing, which happens in the spring.

McCoy hopes the final product will bring clarity to one part of the conversation on education reform. But he isn’t so naïve to believe the results will quell the debate on how teachers spend their time in the classroom.

“You’ll still have the naysayers saying it won’t mean anything,” he said.

And the results may prove McCoy’s thinking wrong about teachers and become fodder for reformers.

“I understand that,” he said. “We have to get the information out there.”

Once lawmakers know much time teachers are teaching, they can tackle the next question of how well they teach.

Fishing For Compliments: Chief Joseph Hatchery Opens 70 Years Late

Jack McNeel, Indian Country Today Media Network, July 22, 2013

The salmon once swam freely throughout the upper Columbia River, and plucking them from the waters represented an opportunity to benefit all the Colville Tribes by sharing the bounty.

“What a beautiful experience it was,” said Mel Taulou, an elder of the Colville Confederated Tribes, at a recent ceremony celebrating the first fish to be taken from the Chief Joseph Hatchery. He and others spoke of the sharing associated with fishing, of the exchange of fishing gear if someone was lacking something, and of sharing their catch with elders, friends and family.

“You gave freely. Everybody did. That’s the way it was,” said tribal member and longtime fisherman Lionel Orr, who sang in honor of the first fish as it was lifted from the river in the First Salmon ceremony. “That’s the way I was taught by the older fishermen.”

The salmon was then filleted, smoked, and later everyone present at the pre-opening ceremony was offered a taste of the first salmon.

About 800 people gathered near Chief Joseph Dam for the grand opening of the brand new Chief Joseph Hatchery on a rainy, overcast June 20. The water did not dampen their enthusiasm. Rather, since rain fills the rivers for salmon and is the lifeblood of the region, it was welcomed on this day in particular.

Although the day included a ribbon cutting and other opening celebrations, it was also an opportunity to honor the fishermen and their contributions to keeping this part of tribal custom alive and in passing their knowledge on to younger tribal members. The crowd gathered around tables under a huge tent to listen as representatives from tribal, state and federal agencies spoke about the history leading to this moment and what the hatchery would mean for the future.

The celebration concluded with tours of the hatchery, a full lunch featuring salmon, and the traditional ribbon cutting signifying the opening of the hatchery and completion of a promise made seven decades earlier.

Colville Tribal Chairman John Sirois, center, cuts the ribbon for the long-awaited Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Colville Reservation, June 20, 2013. He is flanked by representatives of partner groups from the federal and tribal governments. (Photo: Jack McNeel)
Colville Tribal Chairman John Sirois, center, cuts the ribbon for the long-awaited Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Colville Reservation, June 20, 2013. He is flanked by representatives of partner groups from the federal and tribal governments. (Photo: Jack McNeel)


The salmon’s freedom was first cut off by a series of dams that impeded their return to the spawning grounds. In the 1930s a number of dams throughout the Columbia basin were being planned, and tribes in the region were bracing themselves for the disastrous effect these constructs would have on fish runs and thus on tribal members’ lives. Four hatcheries were promised to help mitigate those effects on the Entiat, Wenatchee, Methow and Okanogan watersheds.

“Three of the four hatcheries were constructed between 1939 and 1942,” said Jim Brown, with the Washington Department of Fisheries and Game. Then came World War II. The hatchery plans were put on hold. Chief Joseph Hatchery, the fourth, had to wait. The wait is now over.

“Today’s event gives us the chance to celebrate the fulfillment of the 70-year old commitment,” Brown said at the opening. “Chief Joseph Hatchery is a tremendous accomplishment.”

The hatchery sits on 15 acres of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property within the Colville Indian Reservation. It will be managed by the Colville Tribes under guidelines recommended by scientists as requested by Congress. It includes 40 raceways, each measuring 10 feet by 40 feet, plus three rearing ponds and three acclimation ponds, some onsite and some offsite.

“This is a modern hatchery built to the highest modern standards of science,” said Lorri Bodi of the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). “It represents 30 years or more of progress in trying to meet the commitments by the federal government to tribes and the region. It represents a major step in our efforts to get fish back into the rivers of the Northwest.”

It was a collaborative effort involving the Colville Tribe, BPA, US Army Corps of Engineers, several Public Utility Districts and the NW Power & ‘Conservation Council. Funding came from the BPA and area public utility districts, Bodi said.

The $50 million hatchery will annually release up to 2.9 million chinook salmon.

“We’re going to see natural spawning of fall and summer chinook in the Okanogan River and we’re going to see spring chinook in the Okanogan basin for the first time in many, many years,” said Tom Karier from the Northwest Power & Conservation Council.

“It’s been a historic day,” said Tribal Chairman John Sirois, who was the day’s emcee. “It really touched my heart hearing stories from our elders about our history. We are salmon people. The salmon sacrifice for us in a sacred way. We also make that sacred commitment to them, to provide their water. I am so grateful, thankful and humbled by all the work that went into making this hatchery possible.”



Former Indiana Governor Attempts History Censorship

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels came under fire last week when The Associated Press uncovered a slew of emails relating to the use of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States in Indiana schools.

In the 2010 emails, Daniels, who is now president of Purdue University, calls the book a “truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.”

Zinn passed away January 27, 2010, just before the email exchange occurred between Daniels and top state education officials on February 9.

“Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?” asks Daniels in the emails.

What is it that Daniels has against the book? It doesn’t teach what is in grade school textbooks. Zinn concentrates on the genocide perpetrated by Christopher Columbus against Indigenous Peoples, and who presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln really were, among other topics.

Democracy Now! Spoke to Zinn in May 2009 when he was launching A Young People’s History of the United States and had him answer a question he is frequently asked about the book: “Is it right to be so critical of the government’s policies, of the traditional heroes of this country?”

“Should we tell kids that Columbus, whom they have been told was a great hero, that he mutilated Indians and kidnapped them and killed them in pursuit of gold. Should we tell people that Theodore Roosevelt, who is held up as one of our great presidents, was really a war monger who loved military exploits and who congratulated an American general who committed a massacre in the Phillipines,” Zinn responsed. “Should we tell young people that? My answer is, we should be honest with young people, we should not deceive them. We should be honest about the history of our country. We should not only be taking down the traditional heroes like Andrew Jackson and Theodore Roosevelt but we should be giving young people an alternate set of heroes.”

Daniels has defended himself saying he meant for the book to not be taught in K-12 schools, but some are calling his actions censorship and an attack on academic freedom.

Among them are the American Historical Association, which said it “would consider any governor’s action that interfered with an individual teacher’s reading assignments to be inappropriate and a violation of academic freedom.”

In an email response to The Associated Press, Daniels wrote: “We must not falsely teach American history in our schools. We have a law requiring state textbook oversight to guard against frauds like Zinn, and it was encouraging to find that no Hoosier school district had inflicted his book on its students.”

In response to the emails coming to light, more than 60 Purdue faculty members signed an open letter to Daniels who are “troubled by the fact that you continue to express these views today, especially since you are now speaking as the chief representative of Purdue University, with the responsibility to embody the best of academic inquiry and exchange.”

The faculty members go on to explain why Zinn should not be deemed a “fraud” like Daniels called him including having been praised in the past by numerous people including Eric Foner, the Dewitt Clinton Professor of history at Columbia University and a former president of the American Historical Association. Read their full letter here.

“I have long been struck by how many excellent students of history first
had their passion for the past sparked by reading Howard Zinn,” Foner said February 22, 2010 in an article from The Nation.

The Board of Trustees at Purdue, the second largest university in Indiana, is standing behind Daniels and called the Associated Press article “misleading.” Others say that board is one Daniels himself appointed when he was governor, and are not surprised.