Interior Sends Nearly $1.5 Million in Purchase Offers to Landowners with Fractional Interests at Squaxin Island Indian Reservation

Source: Native News Online

 

WASHINGTON – Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor Wednesday announced that nearly $1.5 million in purchase offers have been sent to more than 600 landowners with fractional interests at the Squaxin Island Indian Reservation in Washington through the Department’s Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program). Interested sellers will have until January 26, 2015, to return accepted offers.

The Buy-Back Program has successfully concluded transactions worth more than $300 million and has restored the equivalent of nearly 500,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

“This Program – developed in partnership with Cobell plaintiffs – is an exceptional opportunity that cannot be taken for granted. As we enter our second year of sales for this voluntary program, we will continue our commitment to reach as many interested landowners as possible across Indian Country,” said Deputy Secretary Connor. “We must ensure that landowners are given every chance to make informed decisions about the potential sale of their land at fair market value.”

The tribe will host an outreach event on Monday, December 15, from 5-7 p.m. PT at the Squaxin Island Tribe Community Kitchen, 10 SE Squaxin Lane, Shelton, Wash. The event will feature speakers from the Buy-Back Program, notary public services, and staff available to help landowners with questions about their offer packages. Landowners can contact the tribe’s staff at: 877-387-3649 or 360-426-9781.

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the CobellSettlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period. Individuals who choose to sell their interests receive payments directly into their Individual Indian Money (IIM) accounts. In addition to receiving fair market value for their land based on objective appraisals, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer, regardless of the value of the land.

Consolidated interests are immediately restored to tribal trust ownership for uses benefiting the reservation community and tribal members.

Sales of land interests will also result in up to $60 million in contributions to the Cobell Education Scholarship Fund. This contribution by Interior is in addition to the amounts paid to individual sellers, so it will not reduce the amount landowners receive for their interests.

There are approximately 245,000 owners of nearly three million fractional interests, spanning 150 Indian reservations, who are eligible to participate in the Buy-Back Program.Many see little or no economic benefit from what are often very small, undivided interests in lands that cannot be utilized due to their highly fractionated state.

The Department recently announced 21 additional locations where the Program will begin implementation, bringing the total number of locations actively engaged in the Buy-Back Program to 42. This total represents 83 percent of all outstanding fractionated ownership interests.

Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at 888-678-6836 with questions about their purchase offers. Individuals can also visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) office, or find more information at www.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners in order to make informed decisions about their land.

Tribes Object To Forced Opening Of ‘Sacred Mountain’ To Public

Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the Horn Rapids area near Richland, Washington.Umptanum Wikimedia

Rattlesnake Mountain as seen from the Horn Rapids area near Richland, Washington.
Umptanum Wikimedia

 

By Tom Banse, Northwest News Network

The Yakama Nation and neighboring tribes are strongly objecting to a Congressional move to offer public access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain, a place tribal members consider sacred.

The mountain lies in the Hanford Reach National Monument near Richland, Washington.

Central Washington’s outgoing Republican Congressman Doc Hastings authored the requirement that the federal government provide some degree of public access. The provision is now tacked on to a must-pass defense spending bill.

Access to the windswept, treeless mountain overlooking the Hanford nuclear site is currently highly restricted. Philip Rigdon supervises the Yakama Nation Department of Natural Resources. He said the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain should remain off-limits to the general public.

“The mountain is a place that is critical to our culture, our religion and the ceremonies that we continue to perform today,” Rigdon said.

But Rigdon’s arguments may be in vain. A Democratic Senate staffer said the defense spending bill now includes so many unrelated member requests, it’s expected to pass by a wide margin this week.

Last week, the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act won U.S. House approval on a bipartisan 300-119 vote. Many public lands provisions that have been bottled up in the divided Congress for years have now been folded into the mammoth bill.

Some of the measures of Northwest interest would expand the Oregon Caves National Monument and Alpine Lakes Wilderness and protect the Hanford B Reactor as part of a new Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

Representative Hastings had long sought to force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the relevant land manager, through legislation to provide greater access to Rattlesnake Mountain. The House unanimously passed such a bill in 2013, but it died without a hearing in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

“The views of Indian tribes are legitimate, and they have a right to be heard and consulted,” Hastings said during an earlier House committee hearing. “But the views of local communities and all citizens also deserve to be heard and listened to — and there is overwhelming local public support for access to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain.”

“The public should expect that if they can visit the summit of Mt. Rainier, then they certainly should be allowed to the summit of Rattlesnake Mountain,” Hastings said as he described the “unparalled views” of the Columbia Basin from the ridge. A gated, paved road leads to the summit.

The Native American name for Rattlesnake Mountain is “Laliik.” Rigdon said Columbia Plateau tribes such as the Yakama, Umatilla and Nez Perce want to preserve the “spiritual” qualities of a holy place.

“It’s astonishing to me that we continue this total disregard for our religion, our ceremonies and this place that has provided for us,” concluded Rigdon.

“Laliik is our Mount Sinai,” Yakama tribal Chairman JoDe Goudy wrote in a recent letter to U.S. senators. “When our Long House leaders feel that a young adult is ready and worthy, Laliik is where they are sent to fast and to have vision quests. This is not a place for Airstreams and Winnebagos.”

The Rattlesnake Mountain provision is one of several aspects of the defense spending bill that trouble tribes. The Yakama Nation chairman also wrote to oppose the transfer of more than 1,000 acres of surplus land at the urbanized edge of the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site for economic development.

Northwest tribes are also joining in solidarity with Native bands in the Southwest who object to the transfer of Tonto National Forest land to a private company that plans to mine for copper.

Traveling ‘Native Voices’ Health Exhibit Opens Today in Anchorage

© Howard Terpning Courtesy of The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., Courtesy National Library of MedicineBlessing from the Medicine Man, Howard Terpning®, 2011

© Howard Terpning Courtesy of The Greenwich Workshop, Inc., Courtesy National Library of Medicine
Blessing from the Medicine Man, Howard Terpning®, 2011

The traveling exhibit “Native Voices: Native Peoples’ Concepts of Health and Illness” opens June 9 in Anchorage.

RELATED: 9 Great Places to Experience American and Native Culture

Starting at the Dena’ina Center, the exhibit will debut with a noon luncheon ceremony featuring the Southcentral Foundation, the Alaska Native Heritage Center and the National Congress of American Indians.

The exhibit will remain open for visitors of the Conference of the National Congress of American Indians until June 12, and then it will open to the general public at the Alaska Native Heritage Center from June 13 through mid-September.

Oral history and the wisdom of medicine men are recognized in the traveling exhibit, which made its grand debut at the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland with a blessing ceremony on October 5, 2011.

RELATED: The National Library of Medicine’s ‘Native Voices’ Exhibit Shares Native Concepts of Health, Healing and Illness

Some of the most revered native healers were interviewed for the project, plus tribal educators, curators and others. “One of the major goals is to share from the native community and in their own words and own descriptions what is important to them in terms of native concepts of health, healing and illness,” Fred Wood, a National Library of Medicine curator involved with the project’s development, said. “We’re doing our best to make that in their words, not someone else’s interpretation.”

RELATED: The Lummi Healing Totem Pole Carries Stories of Traditional Medicines and Practices

Topics featured in the exhibition include: Native views of land, food, community, Earth/nature, and spirituality as they relate to Native health; the relationship between traditional healing and Western medicine in Native communities; economic and cultural issues that affect the health of Native communities; efforts by Native communities to improve health conditions; and the role of Native Americans in military service and healing support for returning Native veterans.
Indian Health Service Director, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, a featured speaker at the opening ceremony, said the concept for the exhibition grew out of meetings with Native leaders throughout the nation, “and reflects the Native tradition of oral history… This wonderful exhibit is helping to make Native voices and cultural perspectives seen and heard, and to promote understanding and appreciation of Native cultures.”

For web browsers all over the world, photos and summaries on the web site pull out specific aspects of the exhibit, such as the healing properties of certain plants.  The introduction to the “Medicine Ways” section states that “[m]any traditional healers say that most of the healing is done by the patient and that every person has a responsibility for his or her proper behavior and health. This is a serious, lifelong responsibility. Healers serve as facilitators and counselors to help patients heal themselves. Healers use stories, humor, music, tobacco, smudging, and ceremonies to bring healing energies into the healing space and focus their effects.”

Ceremonial drums, pipes and rattles from Upper Plains tribes are displayed in one section on healing. Another explores ceremonies that traditional healers performed to give relief to returning veterans who suffered from combat-related stress. “Because physical and spiritual health are intimately connected, body and spirit must heal together,” says printed material in the exhibit, on “The Key Role of Ceremony.”

Another section explores Native games “for survival, strength and sports.” Surfing figures big here, as the exhibit pays tribute to Duke Kahanamoku, Native Hawaiian Olympic medallist who is credited with reviving surfboarding as a sport. In the lobby of the library is a 10-foot model of the Hokule‘a, a traditional Hawaiian voyaging canoe. It is intended to show visitors “how the mission of the Hokule‘a has spurred a Hawaiian cultural and health revival.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/09/traveling-native-voices-health-exhibit-opens-today-anchorage-155212?page=0%2C1

Deadline Approaching for Landowners with Fractionated Interests at Pine Ridge Reservation

The Department of the Interior has sent purchase offers totalling more than $100 million to nearly 16,000 landowners with fractionated interests at the Pine Ridge Reservation. These offers will provide landowners the opportunity to voluntarily sell their interests, which would be consolidated and held in trust for the Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Pine Ridge is among the most highly-fractionated locations in the United States;landowners with purchasable interests have been located in all 50 states.

The Buy-Back Program was created to implement the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided a $1.9 billion fund to purchase fractionated interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers, at fair market value, within a 10-year period. Interested sellers will receive payments directly into their IIM accounts. Consolidated interests will be transferred to tribal governments for uses benefiting the tribes and their members.

Owners Must Respond Soon. Purchase offers are valid for 45 calendar days. Owners must accept and return current purchase offers for fractionated lands on Pine Ridge postmarked by May 2, 2014. 

Staff Ready to Answer Owner Questions. Landowners can contact the Trust Beneficiary Call Center at (888) 678-6836 with questions about their purchase offers, visit their local Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians (OST) or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)office, or find more information atwww.doi.gov/buybackprogram/landowners. Landowners may also contact Oglala Sioux Tribe outreach staff at 605-867-2610 with questions.

Sellers Receive Fair Market Value. In addition to receiving fair market value for their land based on objective appraisals, sellers also receive a base payment of $75 per offer, regardless of the value of the land. Early purchases from willing sellers have resulted in the consolidation of more than 100,000 acres of land for the tribe, and in payments to landowners exceeding $35.5 million. While the amounts offered to individuals have varied, a few owners have already received more than $100,000 for their interests. On average, payments to individuals have been made within seven days after Interior approves a complete, accepted offer package.

Tribal Outreach Events Are in Progress. Interior has worked cooperatively with the Oglala Sioux Tribe over the past several months to conduct outreach toeducate landowners about this unique opportunity, answer questions and helpindividuals make a timely decision about their land. For information about outreach events at Pine Ridge where landowners can gather information in order to make informed decisions about their land, contact the Oglala Sioux Tribe’s outreach staff at 605-867-2610.

Participation Is Voluntary. Participation in the Buy-Back Program is voluntary and selling land does not jeopardize alandowner’s ability to receive individual settlement payments from the Cobell Settlement. Cobell Settlement payments are being handled separately by the Garden City Group, (800) 961-6109.

‘Cobell’ Dishonored by Interior’s Buy-Back Plan

gabriel-galandaBy Gabriel S. Galanda, ICTMN

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Indian Land Buy Back Program has been lauded as the “hallmark” of the $3.4 billion Cobell v. Salazar settlement. As the Buy Back Program now lifts off in hurried fashion at Makah and Pine Ridge, the program dishonors both the letter and spirit of Cobell.

Cobell settled more than 500,000 tribal members’ trust land and asset mismanagement claims, dating back to the 1890s. Not tribal government claims; tribal member claims. Now, copy.9 billion in tribal member settlement monies has been allocated to help tribes “buy back” those members’ allotted or restricted fee lands. In practice, these “buy backs” are accomplished through the forced sale of tribal members’ ancestral lands. Injustice to individual Cobell class members aside, assuming that financially supporting a tribe will benefit that tribe’s members, one would hope that the buy-back wealth would be spread throughout Indian Country. After all, those 500,000 members of the Cobell class surely represent the vast majority of the 566 federally recognized tribes.

But it has recently come to light that Interior has limited the lion’s share of the copy.9 billion in buy back funding to only 40 tribes. Interior’s outside appraisers recently let it slip that “the program will exclude reservations east of the Mississippi and in Alaska.” Interior was quick to retract that statement, but the genie was already out of the bottle. If that were not bad enough, other swaths of Indian Country with large Indian populations west of the Mississippi, like all of California Indian country (save the Washoe Tribe, which is headquartered in Nevada), are excluded from the program.

Cobell, for better or worse, was fought for all of Indian Country, not just 40 tribes. For the sake of the 500,000-plus Cobell class members whose land and related claims were extinguished for eternity, tribal communities west of the Mississippi, in Alaska and California, and elsewhere, all deserve to share in the Buy Back wealth.

The fact is that the Buy Back Program and its goal to consolidate fractionated Indian lands have little to do with what is right or fair. The program is not really about affording “benefits of those lands for the tribes and their members” as Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes once professed; or “expand[ing] tribal economic development opportunities across Indian Country” as Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn said more recently. The program is designed to serve the best interests of the United States; to resolve “enormous administrative difficulties for the government” – and related liability – caused by fractionation. 
Cobell v. Salazar, 573 F.3d 808 (D.C. Cir. 2009). To feign otherwise is dishonest.

As to the letter of the law that is Cobell, the Buy Back Program fares no better. In 2004, the U.S. District Court for the District Court of Columbia in Cobell v. Norton, affirmed that “Interior may acquire land from individual Indian owners to consolidate fractional ownership interests and thereby ‘lessen the number of owners.’” 225 F.R.D. 41 (D.D.C. 2004). However, the court went on to hold that the United States’ trust-fiduciary responsibility requires that the “individual Indian owner of trust lands . . . give truly informed consent to the sale of trust corpus” before any sale is approved by Interior.

The Cobell court made clear that any such sale requires clear “communication between individual Indian trust-land owners and agents of Interior” and that “trust beneficiaries ought not have to make the decision to sell trust assets without access to all the relevant information,” including answers to any questions or concerns they may have. More generally, legal scholar Derek Haskew explains that the United States’ fiduciary duties to tribal member landowners includes consultation, which “can roughly be understood as communication by Indian beneficiaries of their desires to the federal trustees who make ultimate determinations about what happens with the lands Indians occupy.” 24 AM. IND. L. REV. 21 (2000).

Because the Cobell court found such consultation, communication and information wanting, it felt compelled, as a matter of law, “to guarantee that Interior adheres to its fiduciary duties, and to ensure that trust beneficiaries receive the full value of conscientious behavior by their Trustee.”

Yet, despite Cobell’s clear instruction, Interior now embarks on a hastily developed “plan” to cause the sale of individually owned Indian lands. “Mass appraisal valuation techniques” will be utilized, amidst “categorical exclusion” from any federal environmental review. Federal regulations that require Indian land sales to occur by “auction or negotiation” are not being brought to light. Cobell v. Norton, supra. Pivotally, “offer packages” will be mass mailed to individual Indian owners with, among other things, a cover letter, conveyance deed and related sale instructions, as well as “self-addressed return envelope, postage prepaid, if the individual chooses to return…the signed and notarized Deed.” In not so many words: “sign here.”

Mass mailings do not effectively facilitate “communication by Indian beneficiaries of their desires to the federal trustees.” Offer packages with self-addressed return envelopes do not afford a landowner “all the relevant information” to make any informed decision. These one-size-fits-all sale mechanisms do not “ensure that trust beneficiaries receive the full value of conscientious behavior by their Trustee.” In all, the buy back process is simply not designed to obtain “truly informed consent” from tribal member landowners. It is designed to serve federal interests – and it dishonors Cobell.

Gabriel S. Galanda is the managing partner at Galanda Broadman, PLLC, an American Indian-owned law firm.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/03/03/cobell-dishonored-interiors-buy-back-plan?page=0%2C1

Federal land should be open to deer hunters

By Wayne Kruse, The Herald

The answer, deer hunters, is “yes.” And the question is: Are we allowed to hunt on national forest land this weekend?

With the federal government shutdown still in place as of Wednesday, and U.S. Forest Service personnel on furlough, it wasn’t possible to get a live federal opinion on whether or not hunters would be welcome on federally managed land for the modern firearm deer opener on Saturday. But state Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement captain Mike Hobbs, at the agency’s Mill Creek office, said that in his opinion, unless you’re faced with a locked gate or signage specifically denying entry, you’re good to go.

And with that out of the way, here’s a quick rundown on prospects for the 2013 hunting seasons in selected parts of the state:

Okanogan County mule deer: A real bright spot in Washington’s deer-hunting picture this year, according to district wildlife biologist Scott Fitkin. The Okanogan supports Washington’s largest migratory mule deer herd, has excellent public access, and has long been arguably the most popular hunting area for mulies and a few whitetail.

This year should provide a good hunt, Fitkin said, following three consecutive winters of above average fawn recruitment. Hunters should see moderate numbers of younger bucks but — and here’s the big draw this year — the best population of older bucks in a long time.

A survey last year showed 34 bucks per 100 does, the highest ratio in decades, and an indicator of excellent buck carryover. Fitkin said summer forage conditions were favorable, so deer should be in top physical condition this fall.

Permits and regulations are about the same as last year, which produced a harvest 13 percent better than 2010. The top total harvest was in Game Management Unit 204, with its 50-50 population of whitetail and mule deer, but GMUs 215, 218, 224 and 233 also were good. Those five units produced 75 percent of the county’s deer harvest in 2012.

Southwest Washington blacktail: Several units here are almost always tops in the state for blacktail. The highest general season harvest last year was in GMUs 501 (Lincoln), 520 (Winston), 530 (Ryderwood) and 550 (Coweeman). The better hunting by far, according to state district biologist Pat Miller, is during the late portion of the general season or during the late buck hunt, when wind and rain have dampened and knocked down thick foliage.

Some of the better hunting occurs on private forest land, which can be researched on the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Private Lands website, page 96 of the hunting regulations pamphlet or at the state’s Go Hunt mapping website. Weyerhaeuser’s phone number is 1-866-636-6531; the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District office is 360-497-1100; and the Castle Rock Department of Natural Resources office is 360-577-2025.

Southwest Washington elk: The area is usually No. 1 or 2 in the state for elk hunting success rates, according to biologist Miller. The best units last year were 506 (Willapa Hills), 520 (Winston), 530 (Ryderwood), and 550 (Coweeman). Permit elk hunters took 1,458 elk in 2012, while general season hunters harvested 1,728 animals.

Columbia Basin birds: Grant County is traditionally the best place in the state to hunt ducks, geese and pheasant, and because the harvest has been fairly consistent over the past 10 years, this season should be no different.

The highest population of wild pheasant (Eastern Washington pheasant season doesn’t open until the Oct. 19), according to district biologist Rich Finger in Ephrata, is around the Frenchmen and Winchester wasteways, between Potholes Reservoir and the town of George. Mixed bags of wild and released pheasant can be found along lower Crab Creek, around the Gloyd Seeps, and in the Quincy and Dry Falls areas.

Don’t always zero in on the release sites, Finger says. Data show that released birds made up only a quarter of the pheasant, at most, taken in the county in 2012.

Pheasant tips: Move fast and cover a lot of ground; use non-toxic shot and diversify your bag with waterfowl; try the pheasant release sites (go to wdfw.wa.gov/hunting and find Eastern Washington Phasant Enhancement Program).

Opening weekend for waterfowl in the north Basin is usually very good, Finger said, averaging better than three birds per person on the 2012 opener. Local hatches have been declining, but migratory populations from Canada and Alaska have been strong. The outlook this season for northern ducks is perhaps down a little from last year, but generally above 10-year averages.

Grant and Adams counties last year put out a total of 90,228 ducks, with the peak number of migrating mallards harvested in December.

Two of the better public duck hunting areas according to Finger include the north end “sand dunes” portion of Potholes Reservoir and, particularly, Winchester Lake. A mix of pheasant, duck and goose hunting is available to the public through the state’s Regulated Access Areas, and private grain fields enrolled in the Hunter Access Program. For more information on the two programs, call the Ephrata office at 509-759-4624.

Finger said a crucial factor in Columbia Basin waterfowl hunting is scouting — both to see where the birds are feeding and to gain permission from the landowner to hunt.

Processing big game

Your animal is down. Now what do you do? Cabela’s Tulalip presents a big-game processing seminar from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday in the boat showroom, with an experienced meat cutter demonstrating live how to field dress and debone your big game. Please preregister by calling 360-474-4880.

At 3 p.m. the processing scene turns to meat grinding for sausage, inside the Tulalip store, at “the mountain.” Grinding for proper texture, plus seasonings for sausage, hamburger and more.

At noon Sunday, in the main store aisle, learn dehydrating tips for beginners; preserving your harvest and making delicious snacks.

And finally, at 2 p.m. Sunday outside the front of the store, gather “Game Day Recipes” and tips on how to use different cookers and quick and easy spices to turn game meat into a game pleaser.

For more outdoor news, read Wayne Kruse’s blog at www.heraldnet.com/huntingandfishing.

Forceful evictions of Maasai a recipe for tribal clashes in Kenya

Ben Ole Koissaba, Intercontinental Cry

Kenya was at it again last Friday when a 33-year old land ownership dispute between the Maasai and Kikuyu in Naivasha, Kenya, took an ugly turn. Reminiscent of the post-election violence of 2007/2008, over 200 youths believed to be members of the proscribed sect Mungiki–under the escort of heavily armed police–descended on the Maasai community in Narasha with all manner of crude weapons, burning and destroying 240 houses. The arsonists, who were protected by the armed police, rendered 2,300 people homeless, killed over 20 calves and over 600 lambs. During the raid, 2 elderly Maasai men sustained bullet wounds as well as cuts from machetes; they are now recuperating in hospitals.

Narasha is the home of the Maasai who suffered massive land dispossession dating back to the 1900s when the colonial government forced the Maasai off 75 per cent of their ancestral land. Subsequent post-independence government-driven initiatives continued to alienate land from the Maasai.

The tussle for ownership is focused on a 15,000 acre area to which the Maasai claim ancestral ownership. The Kikuyu also claim ownership resulting from an allocation by the first post-independence president Jomo Kenyatta, who happens to be the father of the current president of Kenya.

The bone of contention is that the land is rich with geothermal power; government functionaries want to make a killing by displacing the Maasai. Narasha village is sitting on top of lucrative geothermal power potential. A combination of senior government officials, businessmen and the energy giant KenGen are all involved in making sure the Maasai people are moved away from the area. The Geothermal project has attracted both multi-national and bilateral donors with the World Bank being the main financier of the project.

The forces behind the inhuman act are undoubtedly Kenya’s energy giant, KenGen which is undeniably at the center of the problems facing the Maasai people in nearby Olkaria. The company has embarked on a new geothermal energy project that will add 560 megawatts of power to Kenya’s national grid. This is so far the largest geothermal project in the world. The Ksh165 billion (US$2 billion) project will require expansion beyond the current land that KenGen’s wells occupy in Olkaria. Narasha community is in the middle of the areas earmarked for the new geothermal wells. KenGen has been negotiating for the last few years with the Maasai in Olkaria on issues of compensation and relocation. Not all is going well with the process; There are big trust issues between the parties.

Ngati Farm, a company owned by the Kikuyu from central Kenya, claims to have bought the disputed land from colonialists in 1964. For the last 33 years, the company and the Maasai (who have called the land home for the last 400 years) have been fighting court battles. With the recent push by KenGen for geothermal power generation, the land is now worth billions of shillings which means the stakes are now even higher for both parties.

Leading the pack behind the evictions is Eddy Njoroge, the former Managing Director of KenGen, who is currently serving as President Kenyatta’s advisor on energy and petroleum. Njoroge is closer to the Maasai-Olkaria troubles than anyone else; He knows the potential of the resources on the ground as well as the ability of the community to fight back. Sources claim that he is planning to buy the disputed Narasha land from Ngati Farm as long as the Maasai problem is brought to an end. Njoroge is also said to be closely associated with a tender by KenGen that will see another geothermal plant developed at Narasha.

The Governor of Nakuru, Kinuthia Mbugua, is said to be the mastermind of the Enarasha attack as well as another attack in recent history. The former Police Commissioner, who claims to be a member of Ngatia Farm, has a long history of hostility with the Maasai in Naivasha. After being elected as Governor, sources say Kinuthia vowed to remove the Maasai from Nakuru County. He is also said to be personally interested in a piece of land that is currently being occupied by the family of Odupoi ole Parsitau. He offered the family Ksh2 million if they would move away; Ole Parsitau declined the offer. Kinuthia is reportedly planning additional evictions in Kedong Ranch – another historically disputed area. Governor Mbugua will benefit greatly from KenGen’s projects.

Amos Gathecah, the new Nakuru County Commissioner, is Governor Mbugua’s foot soldier. He has been used as a go-between in negotiations with Enarasha community. Gathecah recently held a meeting with leaders from Narasha at Nashipae Hotel in Naivasha where he offered the community Ksh31 million to relocate from the area. When the offer was declined, he made a threat that he would use the same money to fight the community and force them to leave. This meeting was triggered by a June 19 petition by the community to the National Land Commission concerning the dispute with Ngatia Farm. The Commission started investigations that will delay any plans for the generation of Geothermal Power in the area.

Helen Kiilu led dozens of policemen to support Governor Mbugua’s hired goons in attacking Narasha. Ms. Kiilu takes orders from Commissioner Gathecah.

Former Councilor Ole Linti, a former area councilor, is said to have changed allegiance in exchange for a share in Ngati farm or the proceeds from the KenGen deals. Ole Linti has a long history of fighting for the community against Ngati Farm and KenGen. He is said to have run out of steam after many years of struggle.

While the government denies knowledge of the evictions, the presence of the police and the manner in which the raids were carried out is indicative of a well-executed plan with backing from state machinery.