Apache Stronghold Convoy Visits Graves of Children Who Never Came Home

Photo by Sandra Rambler, San Carlos Apache

Photo by Sandra Rambler, San Carlos Apache

Apache Stronghold Convoy nears DC for repeal of law desecrating Oak Flat for copper mining

By Brenda Norrell, The Narcosphere

The Apache Stronghold Convoy visited the graves of the children who never came home at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania, remembering the Chiricahua Apache children who were held as prisoners of war.

“We need to know our history, where we have been will guide us to where we are going. ” said Wendsler Nosie Sr., Apache.

“The Apache Stronghold visited our relatives who never made it back home. It was a real emotional experience for all of us. The Chiricahua Apache children who were there did not arrive as students like other tribes, but arrived as Prisoners of War,” Nosie said after being present at the Carlisle Indian School cemetery.

The Apache Stronghold Convoy is enroute to Washington DC to demand repeal of the law which would desecrate the Apaches sacred Oak Flat with copper mining, which Sen. John McCain sneaked into the defense bill.

The Apache Stronghold will be in New York Times Square at noon today, Friday, July 17. It will be in DC on July 21 and 22 for a spiritual gathering. In DC, Ariz. Congressmen Raul Grijalva and others will join the Apache Stronghold to urge repeal of the law.

The San Carlos Apache Nation said, “Stops have been made in Denver, where Neil Young offered the pre-opening show to the Apache Stronghold.  Other spiritual prayers were also provided by members of the Sioux Nations in South Dakota when stops were made at the Crazy Horse Memorial and at Wounded Knee.  Radio, TV and newspaper interviews followed in various cities. The convoy continued into Minneapolis, MINN and Chicago, and were graciously greeted by those in support of the repeal of the land exchange.”

“The spiritual journey of the Apache Stronghold caravan led by Wendsler Nosie, Sr., former Tribal Chairman and now the Peridot District Council for the San Carlos Apache Tribe, first stopped at the Gila River and Salt River Indian communities for spiritual prayers.”

“On the Navajo Nation, they met with spiritual leaders. After stopping at the Jicarilla Apache Reservation in Dulce, N.M., members of the Tribal Council unanimously passed a Tribal Resolution in support of the H.R. 2811, a bill introduced by Arizona Representative, Raul Grijalva to stop the implementation of Section 3003 of the National Defense Authorization Act which was passed last December 2014, that allows federal land at Oak Flat to be given to a foreign mining giant, Resolution Copper Company-Rio Tinto-BHP to construct a billion dollar mine while promising jobs.” Read statement and more: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/07/gathering-power-apache-stronghold.html)

Back in Arizona, Dine’ (Navajo) walkers enroute to the Sacred Mountains are speaking out about the coal mining and power plants that have devastated the Navajo Nation.

On Big Mountain at Black Mesa, the Nihigaal bee Iina, Journey for Existence, described the enormous impact and loss of water from the Navajo Aquifer as a result of Peabody Coal’s mining for the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the world. While it provides electricity to southern Arizona, Navajos on Black Mesa live without running water and electricity. This coal mining and power plant are the real reason for the relocation of more than 14,000 Navajos and the heartbreak of those families. Read the Dine’ walkers words about Peabody Coal’s abuse of water: http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/07/nihigaal-bee-iina-on-big-mountain.html

Meanwhile across Indian country, deception, fraud and plagiarism dominate national online Indian country news. When the casino industry took control of online national Native media, reporters were replaced with stay-at-home plagiarizers. Currently, there are no watchdog media actually present in DC.

The lack of authentic reporters who are present in Indian country also means that there are no Indian country reporters on the Tohono O’odham Nation to expose how the Israeli Apartheid defense contractor Elbit Systems is building spy towers and pointing those at traditional O’odham homes. Homeland Security gave the border contract for surveillance towers to Israel’s Elbit Systems, responsible for Apartheid security surrounding Palestine.

The lack of authentic reporters on the Arizona border means no one is covering the fact that US Border Patrol agents kill with impunity and run drugs, while the agents abuse Indigenous Peoples, including Tohono O’odham, in their homeland. There is no one to expose the real role of the US in the so-called drug war, including the fact that the US ATF armed cartels with assault weapons.

Read more on ‘Deception online: Media in Indian country and corporate criminals’ http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/07/deception-online-media-in-indian.html

In Sonora, Mexico, Yaqui defenders of water rights remain imprisoned, regardless of judges orders to release them. Even with an appeal from Amnesty International and judges orders, two spokesmen for Yaqui water rights defense remain in prison, Fernando Jiminez and Mario Luna. http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/04/yaqui-water-rights-defenders-released.html

Meanwhile, in Chiapas, Zapatistas SupGaleano, formerly known as Marcos, continues to speak out on the truth of capitalism and the reality of the ongoing struggle for dignity, autonomy and justice. Read his latest words:

http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2015/07/supgaleano-part-ii-critical-thought.html

Senate panel takes up plan to settle Bill Williams River water dispute

By Julianne DeFilippis , Cronkite News

 

Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry Counts told a Senate committee that the northwestern Arizona tribe supports a bill that would formalize two water-rights agreements between it, Freeport Minerals Corp. and the government.Photo by Julianne DeFilippis

Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry Counts told a Senate committee that the northwestern Arizona tribe supports a bill that would formalize two water-rights agreements between it, Freeport Minerals Corp. and the government.
Photo by Julianne DeFilippis

WASHINGTON – Tribal and state lawmakers urged a Senate panel Wednesday to approve a water-rights agreement between the Hualapai tribe and Freeport Minerals Corp., saying time is fast running out on a deal.

Witnesses told the Senate Indian Affairs Committee that the Bill Williams River Water Rights Settlement Act of 2014, which would guarantee the tribe certain levels of water use in the area, has been years in the making. But statutory limits on Freeport’s water rights mean it could all be undone if Congress does not act this year, the bill’s supporters said.

“We need to have this done before that deadline or the whole thing goes away,” Hualapai Chairwoman Sherry Counts said at the hearing.

The bill is sponsored by Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, while a companion measure in the House has been co-sponsored by all nine members of the state’s House delegation.

“It’s rare to find a piece of legislation that can garner bipartisan and bicameral support from the entire state congressional delegation,” said Flake, who called the bill an important piece of legislation for the whole state, not just the tribe.

But not everyone supports the bill.

Flake said officials in Mohave and La Paz counties have raised questions about the deal. And Bureau of Indian Affairs Director Michael Black testified Wednesday that while his agency supports the goals of the bill, it has “significant concerns” about provisions that waive sovereign immunity.

Black said those concerns “must be resolved before the administration can support the bill,” and assured the committee that the bureau is working to find a solution.

But Flake said a waiver of immunity is not unprecedented in such agreements and that parties in the deal “must have the ability to enforce the terms of the agreement.” The waiver “must be expressed and unequivocal,” he said.

Besides having the backing of the entire congressional delegation, Flake introduced letters of support from Gov. Jan Brewer, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Freeport Minerals and the Nature Conservancy.

In addition to guaranteeing water-rights for the tribe, the deal calls on Freeport to give the tribe $1 million toward a water infrastructure study, to transfer land to the state for a conservation program and to stop pumping water near a spring that is sacred to the tribe, among other provisions.

“We’ve been on the Colorado River since time immemorial and we have no water rights,” said Counts, who said securing those rights is a key goal for tribe.

But she also noted that water rights are also critical for any economic development plans the tribe has, for building resort facilities for tourists or housing for tribal members.

McCain said he and Flake are willing to work with anyone who has concerns about the proposal. But a bill needs to be approved to protect water rights for everyone, he said.

“We have to conclude our native water-rights settlements if we are going to have a predictable supply of water for Indians and non-Indians alike,” McCain said.

 

More forestry funding needed on Indian lands, tribal leader says

By Kate Prengama, Yakima Herald-Republic

Phil Rigdon, the director of  Yakama Natural Resources Program and president of the Intertribal Timber Council

Phil Rigdon, the director of Yakama Natural Resources Program and president of the Intertribal Timber Council

Federal funding cuts pose dire consequence for the ability of tribes to manage their land and reduce wildfire risks, a Yakama Nation leader told a U.S. Senate hearing Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Phil Rigdon, the director of the Yakamas’ natural resources program and president of the Intertribal Timber Council, told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs that programs that once kept tribal forests healthy are now “running on fumes.”

“The consequences of chronic underfunding and understaffing are materializing,” Rigdon told the committee. “The situation is now reaching crisis proportions and it’s placing our forests in great peril.”

There are more than 18 million acres of tribal forest lands held in trust by the federal government, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs gets far less funding per acre for forest management and fire risk reduction than national forests.

Funding has fallen 24 percent since 2001, Rigdon said, and that can have dire consequences.

For example, last year when the Mile Marker 28 Fire broke out off U.S. Highway 97 on the Yakama reservation, only one heavy equipment operator and one tanker truck were able to respond immediately because that’s all the current federal budget supports, Rigdon said in an interview before the hearing.

“Back in the early 1990s, when I fought fire, we would have three or four heavy equipment operators,” he said. “Someone was always on duty. That’s the kind of thing that’s really changed.”

The Mile Marker 28 Fire eventually burned 20,000 acres of forest.

Rigdon noted that the dozens of tribes around the country that are represented by the Timber Council are proud of the work they do when resources are available.

“If you go to the Yakama reservation and see our forests, we’ve reduced disease and the risk of catastrophic fire. If we don’t continue to do that type of work — if we put it off to later — we’ll see the types of 100,000- or 200,000-acre fires you see other places,” Rigdon said.

Currently, there are 33 unfilled forestry positions at the BIA for the Yakama Nation, he added. That limits the program’s ability to hit harvest targets, which hurts the tribe economically and affects the health of the forest.

A 2013 report from the Indian Forest Management Assessment Team found that an additional $100 million in annual funding and 800 new employees are needed to maintain strong forestry programs on BIA land nationwide. The current budget is $154 million.

In addition to the concern over future funding, other members of the panel also discussed the different approaches to forest management by tribes and the Forest Service.

“We’ve done a good job maintaining a healthy forest on a shoestring budget, but the Forest Service is not maintaining its adjacent lands,” said Danny Breuninger Sr., the president of the Mescalero Apache Nation in New Mexico.

Committee member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., cited a 2011 Arizona fire as an example of how tribal efforts can succeed. In the wake of a 2002 fire, the White Mountain Apache conducted salvage logging and thinning work while the adjacent national forest did not. When fire hit the region again, federal forests were devastated, but the treated tribal forests stopped the fire’s spread.

Jonathan Brooks, forest manager for the White Mountain Apache, told McCain that lawsuits prevent the Forest Service from doing similar work.

“Active management gets environmental activists angry,” Brooks said. “But what’s more hurtful to the resources: logging, thinning and prescribed fire, or devastating fires?”

Rigdon said the Intertribal Timber Council would like to see increased abilities for tribes to work with neighboring national forests on management projects like thinning, which could support tribe-owned sawmills and reduce fire risks.

The Yakama Nation is working with the Forest Service on developing such a collaborative project, as part of a new program known as “anchor forests.” It’s a pilot program currently being used on a few reservations, and the panelists at the hearing supported expanding it to more regions.

Anchor forests are intended to balance the economic and ecological needs of a forest through a collaborative effort involving tribes, the BIA and local, state and federal agencies.