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Save the Peaks Coalition News Release: Supreme Court Affirms Tribes Have No Religious Rights

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June 6th, 2009

Supreme Court Affirms Tribes Have No Religious Rights,

Tribes and others Call For Congressional Action to Protect Sacred Places

Flagstaff, AZ — On Monday, June 8th 2009, the Supreme Court denied the petition by Tribes & Environmental groups to hear the case to protect the holy San Francisco Peaks.

For nearly a decade, the Save the Peaks Coalition, Tribes, Environmental groups, and community members lead an effort to stop the Snowbowl ski area’s plan to expand it’s development on the Peaks, and make snow from treated sewage effluent. The ski resort operates on the Holy Mountain through a lease by the United States Forest Service, which sanctioned the proposed development in 2004.


This is the second time that a petition for the protection of the San Francisco Peaks has been denied by the Supreme Court.


According to Howard Shanker, attorney for the Navajo Nation, the Havasupai Tribe, the Yavapai-Apache Nation, the White Mountain Apache Tribe, Flagstaff Activist Network, the Center for Biological Diversity and others, and former congressional candidate: “It is unfortunate that the Supreme Court denied our petition for certiorari.  The Court’s denial serves to perpetuate injustice and the application of bad law regarding the rights of Native Americans to protect sacred and holy sites.  It is, however safe to say that as long as the San Francisco Peaks remain, there will be people willing to continue the struggle to protect the Peaks and to honor the beliefs and cultures of those peoples who hold them sacred.”

“The Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari in the Navajo Nation case is unfortunate to say the least.” Stated Jack Trope of the Association on American Indian Affairs who is working together with DNA Legal Services, representing the Hualapai Tribe, Navajo medicine practitioner Norris Nez and Hopi spiritual practitioner Bill Preston. “It means that the San Francisco Peaks, sacred to so many tribes, will continue to be at great risk from the development approved by the Forest Service that allows treated sewage water to be used for snowmaking.   It also means that the Ninth Circuit’s narrow interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) – an interpretation which in practice will make that law virtually unavailable to protect sacred lands in the states covered by the Ninth Circuit – will stand.”

According to the previous ruling of the en banc panel of the 9th Circuit, “the only effect of the proposed upgrades is on the Plaintiffs’ subjective, emotional religious experience. That is, the presence of recycled wastewater on the Peaks is offensive to the Plaintiffs’ religious sensibilities…the diminishment of spiritual fulfillment – serious though it may be – is not a ‘substantial burden’ on the free exercise of religion.” The Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ religious beliefs as calling them mere “damaged spiritual feelings.”  Regrettably, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the case leaves the en banc panel’s decision in place as the law in the Ninth Circuit.

“The Navajo Nation cannot express enough disappointment and disapproval.” Said Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan.  “Navajo people understand Dook’o’ooslid, the San Francisco Peaks, to be a significant relative that we attribute value, concern and meaning to as anyone else would to a mother, father or grandparent. It is very unfortunate that our non-native relatives do not realize the seriousness of their decisions.”

Don Watahomigie, Chairman of the Havasupai Tribe stated, “Where do native people stand now in relation to our govt to govt relationship with the federal govt when laws passed like RFRA, airfa and NAGPRA don’t hold water? If this goes on this will be a precedent for other developments to start on other spiritual sacred lands anywhere in the country. I call on other tribal leaders to work together to find a way to create laws to hold water and protect the sacred.”

“The Supreme Court, the Forest Service, and the Flagstaff City Council have all failed us.” Stated Jeneda Benally of the Save the Peaks Coalition.  “In this day and age, we are still denied our basic civil and human rights by the U.S. government. We have no guarantee for the protection of our religious freedom. This case was important to insure religious freedom in the United States of America. Our own courts have failed the American people once again.”

“This is nothing new. The Supreme Court is deflecting its responsibilities toward indigenous people all over the country.” Stated Carly Long, President of the Board of Directors of the Flagstaff Activist Network, a plaintiff in the case. “Indigenous people and their allies need to stand up in the wake of this injustice and demand more from the US government. It is high time Congress stepped in with legislation to protect Native rights and sacred sites.”

“This is a setback, but it is not the end. The Obama Administration still has the authority to stop this development and develop policies to ensure that future decisions are more respectful of sacred sites.” stated Jack F. Trope, Executive Director, Association on American Indian Affairs. “Moreover, other circuits like the Tenth Circuit have interpreted RFRA more broadly and efforts to use that law to protect other sacred places will continue.   Finally, the struggle over the San Francisco Peaks and the failure of RFRA to protect this sacred place ought to send the message to Congress that it is time for the lawmakers to approve legislation that would strengthen applicable law so that it will better protect Native American sacred places across the country.”

“As one of the plaintiffs in this case, I talk with Hopi elders, they have been telling me that they are tired of white men making decisions without coming to Hopi to tell us.” Stated Bucky Preston, a Hopi spiritual runner and plaintiff in the case. “A government is run by human beings and we are not above one another as humans. We are all equal. If we want good lives, consultation should be humans coming together by consensus. This is the Hopi way and this has never happened. We need to respect life and this can’t be done with this kind of consultation. True consultation has yet to be seen at Hopi. I remember that Obama told the Crow people that he would be thinking of Indian People every day. I point to him now and call upon him to come to Hopi in true consultation to resolve this matter with the true Hopi elders from our villages.” Stated Bucky Preston.

“This case goes far beyond the interests of a single for-profit private business. Our traditional cultural teachings compel us to continue to fight Snowbowl’s attempts at expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage on this Holy Mountain.” Stated Klee Benally of the Save the Peaks Coalition. “We will continue our work to protect the sensitive mountain ecosystem and public health. Our way of life is in peril. We will continue to pray and struggle to safeguard mother earth for our cultural survival.

Navajo Nation Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan stated, “If we stop here, we are short changing ourselves, we have to stand our ground and continue the fight for the protection of our sacred sites,” he added. “We cannot allow the flood gates to open even further. It is extremely important to seek all means of legal remedies, these decisions will impact future generations, it is imperative that we seek a decision in our favor.”

For more information and background please visit: www.savethepeaks.org

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. terrance cruz

    December 20, 2009 at 8:38 PM

    Indigenous people’s Civil Rights are being violated every day. I’m experiencing injustice at the hands of three courts involving simple custody issues where government intervention is not warranted, invited or necessary. Our Tribal social services refused to get involved at the counties request, based on the fact that intervention wasn’t deemed necessary. Eventually, the county admitted to having initiated a case “improvidently.” Nevertheless, it violated a Congressional Act. Namely, the National Indian Rights Protection Act. Investigations have been made by agencies and authorities based on malicious, slanderous, and prejudicial comments exaggerrated to gain an advantageous position against the custodial parent in proceedings where the presiding judge wouldn’t agree to further amendments to visitation arrangements; prompting desperation and haste from the other parent. Whom through application of different venues (i.e. county to state-to a differing state) attempted to “backdoor” me. Which led to false allegations of threats, further proceedings, biased rulings. Do courts effectually make orders only to propagate their own interests?.. is every one in the “Justice” system interested in adopting this crisis mentality?, with court appointed advocates, falsely incarcerating people on bogus charges, requiring attendance in remedial elementary weak , beggardly parenting classes ,culturally insensitive, emotionally taxing , economically demeaning. it goes on and on. At present I have no money for representation. Our tribe has no legal dept. and I actually have no one to turn to for assistance with motions in court to remedy this situation. I continue with limited support from our community and family . As many people roll over to appease, alieve the circumstances the legal community brings upon them lengthy continuations, dragging their feet in almost every situation , hurting the people they claim to be trying to help our children! Really they need to step out of the picture and leave us alone.

  2. Latrisha Frohwein

    July 12, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Another thing I have noticed is that often for many people, less-than-perfect credit is the results of circumstances over and above their control. For example they may are already saddled with illness so that they have excessive bills for collections. It can be due to a employment loss and the inability to go to work. Sometimes breakup can send the budget in the undesired direction. Many thanks for sharing your opinions on this website.

Add your comments (racist, sexist, & trans/homophobic comments will not be published)

#nonukes

Architect of Annihilation: Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Terror

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Read our quick and dirty review of the movie here.

Klee Benally, Indigenous Action/Haul No!
Contributions by Leona Morgan, Diné No Nukes/Haul No!

Printable posters (PDFs): 11″x17″ color, 11″x17″ black & white

The genocidal colonial terror of nuclear energy and weapons is not entertainment. 

To glorify such deadly science and technology as a dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age.

Think of it this way, for every minute that passes during the film’s 3-hour run time, more than 1,100 citizens in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died due to Oppenheimer’s weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t account for those downwind of nuclear tests who were exposed to radioactive fallout (some are protesting screenings), it doesn’t account for those poisoned by uranium mines, it doesn’t account for those killed during nuclear power plant melt-downs, it doesn’t account for those in the Marshall Islands who are forever poisoned.

For every second you sit in the air conditioned theater with a warm buttery popcorn bucket in your lap, 18 people dead in the blink of an eye. Thanks to Oppenheimer.

Though you’ll certainly learn enough about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” thanks to director Christopher Nolan’s 70mm IMAX odyssey, let’s be clear about his deadly legacy and the overall military and scientific industrial complex behind it.

After the successful detonation of the very first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer infamously quoted the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Barely a month later, the “U.S” dropped two atomic bombs devastating the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and more than 200,000 people were killed. Some of the shadows of those perished were burned into the streets. One survivor, Sachiko Matsuo, relayed their thoughts as they tried to make sense of what was happening when Nagasaki was struck, “I could see nothing below. My grandmother started to cry, ‘Everybody is dead. This is the end of the world.” A devastation that Nolan intentionally leaves out because, according to the director, the film is not told from the perspectives of those who were bombed, but by those who were responsible for it. Nolan casually explains, “[Oppenheimer] learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the radio, the same as the rest of the world.”

Months after the atomic detonation at the “Trinity” site in occupied Tewa lands of New Mexico, Oppenheimer resigned. He walked away expressing the conflict of having, “blood on his hands,” (though reportedly he later said the bombings were not “on his conscience”) while leaving a legacy of nuclear devastation and radioactive pollution permanently poisoning lands, waters, and bodies to this day. 

U.S. military and political machinery cannibalized the scientist and turned him into a villain of their imperialist cold-war anxiety. They reminded him and the other scientists behind the Manhattan Project, that they and their interests were always in control.

Oppenheimer never was a hero, he was an architect of annihilation. 

The race to develop the first atomic bomb (after Nazis had split the atom) never could be a strategy of peaceful deterrence, it was a strategy of domination and annihilation. 

Nazi Germany was committing genocide against Jewish people while the U.S. sat on the political sidelines. It wasn’t until they were directly threatened that the U.S. intervened. Though Nazi Germany was defeated on May 8th, 1945, the U.S. dropped two separate atomic bombs on the non-military targets of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945.

To underscore Oppenheimer’s complicity, he suppressed a petition by 70 Manhattan Project scientists urging President Truman not to drop the bombs on moral grounds. The scientists also argued that since the war was nearing its end, Japan should be given the opportunity to surrender. 

Today there are approximately 12,500 nuclear warheads in nine countries with almost 90 percent of them held by the U.S. and Russia. It is estimated that 100 nuclear weapons is an “adequate… deterrence” threshold for the “mutually assured destruction” of the world.

Oppenheimer built the gun that is still held to the head of everyone who lives on this Earth today. Throughout the decades after the development of “The Bomb,” millions throughout the world have rallied for nuclear disarmament, yet politicians have never taken their fingers off the trigger. 

The Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism

Nuclear weapons production and energy would not be possible without uranium.

Global uranium mining boomed during and after World War II and continues to threaten communities throughout the world.

Today, more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines are located within the so-called U.S., mostly in and around Indigenous communities, permanently poisoning sacred lands and waters with little to no political action being taken to clean up their deadly toxic legacy.

Indigenous communities have long been at the front lines of the struggle to stop the deadly legacy of the nuclear industry. Nuclear colonialism has resulted in radioactive pollution that has poisoned drinking water systems of entire communities like Red Shirt Village in South Dakota and Sanders in Arizona. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has closed more than 22 wells on the Navajo Nation where there are more than 523 abandoned uranium mines. In Ludlow, South Dakota an abandoned uranium mine sits within feet of an elementary school, poisoning the ground where children continue to play to this day.

Nuclear colonialism has ravaged our communities and left a deadly legacy of cancers, birth defects, and other serious health consequences, it is the slow genocide of Indigenous Peoples.

From 1944 to 1986 some 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from mines on Diné lands. Diné workers were told little of the potential health risks with many not given any protective gear. As demand for uranium decreased the mines closed, leaving over a thousand contaminated sites. To this day none have been completely cleaned up.

On July 16, 1979, just 34 years after Oppenheimer oversaw the July 16, 1945 Trinity test, the single largest accidental release of radioactivity occurred on Diné Bikéyah (The Navajo Nation) at the Church Rock uranium mill. More than 1,100 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive tailings poured into the Puerco River when an earthen dam broke. Today, water in the downstream community of Sanders, Arizona is poisoned with radioactive contamination from the spill.

Although uranium mining is now banned on the reservation due to advocacy from Diné anti-nuclear organizers, Navajo politicians have sought to allow new mining in areas already contaminated by the industry’s toxic legacy.  It is estimated that 25% of all the recoverable uranium remaining in the country is located on Diné Bikéyah.
Though there has never been a comprehensive human health study on the impacts of uranium mining in the area, a focused study has detected uranium in the urine of babies born to Diné women exposed to uranium.

Western Shoshone lands in so-called Nevada, which have never been ceded to the “U.S.” government, have long been under attack by the military and nuclear industries.

Between 1951 and 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below the surface at an area called the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone lands which make it one of the most bombed nations on earth. Communities in areas around the test site faced severe exposure to radioactive fallout, which caused cancers, leukemia & other illnesses. Those who have suffered this radioactive pollution are collectively known as “Downwinders.”

Western Shoshone spiritual practitioner Corbin Harney, who passed on in 2007, helped initiate a grassroots effort to shutdown the test site and abolish nuclear weapons. He once said, “We’re not helping Mother Earth at all. The roots, the berries, the animals, are not here anymore, nothing’s here. It’s sad. We’re selling the air, the water, we’re already selling each other. Somewhere it’s going to come to an end.”

Between 1945 and 1958, sixty-seven atomic bombs were detonated in tests conducted in Ṃajeḷ (the Marshall Islands). Some Indigenous people of the islands have all together stopped reproducing due to the severity of cancer and birth defects they have faced due to radioactive pollution.

In 1987 the “U.S.” congress initiated a controversial project to transport and store almost all of the U.S.’s toxic waste at Yucca Mountain located about 100 miles northwest of so-called Las Vegas, Nevada. Yucca Mountain has been held holy to the Paiute and Western Shoshone Nations since time immemorial. In January 2010 the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.

There are currently 93 operating nuclear reactors in the so-called U.S. that supply 20% of the country’s electricity. There are nearly 90,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear waste stored in concrete dams at nuclear power plants throughout the country with the waste increasing at a rate of 2,000 tons per year.

From the 1979 disasters of Three Mile Island and Churchrock to the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted down, the nuclear industry has been wrought with mass catastrophes with permanent global consequences.

In 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant catastrophically failed and began melting down after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. It’s been reported that the Fukushima plant has been leaking approximately 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day. Today, the Japanese government is open about its plans to release remaining radioactive waters into the Pacific.

“Depleted Uranium” weapons deployed by the U.S. in imperialist wars (particularly Iraq and Afghanistan) have also poisoned eco-systems, including at proving grounds and firing ranges in Arizona, Maryland, Indiana and Vieques, Puerto Rico. Depleted uranium is a by-product of uranium enrichment process when it’s used for nuclear reactor fuel and in the making of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear energy production is now claimed as a “green solution” to the climate crisis, but nothing could be further from the truth of this deadly lie.

In April 2022, the Biden administration announced a $6 billion government bailout to “rescue” nuclear power plants at risk of closing. A colonial government representative stated, “U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals.” They, along with Climate Justice activists cite nuclear energy as necessary to combat global warming, all while ignoring the devastating permanent impacts Indigenous Peoples have faced.

Due to this “greenwashing” of nuclear energy, we face a push for nuclear hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors, and High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) driving a renewed threat of new uranium mining, transportation, & processing.

Though the Obama administration placed a moratorium on thousands of uranium mine leases around the Grand Canyon in 2012, pre-existing uranium claims were allowed. Environmental groups and Indigenous Nations are currently attempting to make the moratorium permanent and push for a new national monument, yet these will do little to nothing for the handful of pre-existing uranium mines that have been allowed to move forward.

Despite  these actions, underground blasting & above ground work has begun at Pinyon Plain/Canyon Mine, just miles from the Grand Canyon. Once Energy Fuels, the company operating the mine, starts hauling out radioactive ore, they plan to transport 30 tons per day through Northern Arizona to the company’s processing mill in White Mesa, 300 miles away. 

The White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill licensed to operate in the U.S. The mill was built on sacred ancestral lands of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe near Blanding, Utah. Energy Fuels disposes radioactive and toxic waste tailings in “impoundments” that take up about 275 acres next to the mill. Since there are limited radioactive waste facilities, White Mesa Mill has become an ad hoc dump for the world’s nuclear wastes that have no final repository.

In so-called New Mexico, a state addicted to nuclear monies for both nuclear weapons and energy facilities, there are two national nuclear labs and two national waste facilities. Along with legacy uranium mines and mills, there was Project Gasbuggy (an underground detonation), a “Broken Arrow” accident near Albuquerque, and countless tons of radioactive waste buried in unlined pits, Pueblo kivas, and watersheds. Currently, there are planned expansions and modifications at Los Alamos National Labs, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and Urenco uranium enrichment facility. Most recently, the state has been threatened by two newly licensed consolidated interim storage facilities for “spent fuel” from nuclear power plants in New Mexico and Texas. The federal government continues to push nuclear projects with financial incentives.

Nuclear proliferation continues as the U.S. allows uranium miners and others who are eligible for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to die. Many continue to suffer and wait for compensation funds to be allocated or are not eligible due to the limitations of the act. 

The devastation of nuclear colonialism, which permanently destroys Indigenous communities throughout the world, is not entertainment. This is the terrifying legacy of nuclear energy and weapons that movies like Oppenheimer and duplicitous climate justice activists advocate. 

Indigenous Peoples live, suffer, and continue to resist its consequences every day.

END NUCLEAR COLONIALISM!

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Recommended links:

https://haulno.com
http://www.dinenonukes.org
https://tewawomenunited.org/programs/environmental-health-and-justice-program

https://stopforeverwipp.org/home
https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/
http://www.cleanupthemines.org

https://www.nirs.org/
https://www.radioactivewastecoalition.org
https://www.dont-nuke-the-climate.org/
https://www.nuclear-heritage.net/index.php?title=Nuclear_Heritage_Network

https://yukiyokawano.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBO_C6GkIpM&t=10s
https://apjjf.org/2022/1/Schattschneider-Auslander.html

Articles:
Red Water Pond Road
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/a-radioactive-legacy-haunts-this-navajo-village-which-fears-a-fractured-future/2020/01/18/84c6066e-37e0-11ea-9541-9107303481a4_story.html
ABQ Museum
https://www.abqjournal.com/lifestyle/arts/albuquerque-museums-online-exhibit-trinity-takes-a-look-at-the-aftermath-of-the-atomic-bomb/article_33d17c15-61c8-5e1f-b32c-99f4ebee5db4.html

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Ox Sam Camp Update: Land Defenders Arrested, Camp Raided After Blocking Excavator

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From www.oxsam.org (follow for more updates).

Read the new press release from 6/8/23 here: https://www.indigenousaction.org/ox-sam-camp-raid-update-one-arrested-as-prayer-tipis-are-bulldozed-and-ceremonial-items-confiscated/

6/7/23
First arrests are underway and camp is being raided after land defenders halted an excavator this morning at Thacker Pass.

OROVADA, NV — This morning, a group of Native American water protectors and allies used their bodies to non-violently block construction of the controversial Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, turning back bulldozers and heavy equipment.

The dramatic scene unfolded this morning as workers attempting to dig trenches near Sentinel Rock were turned back by land defenders who ran and put their bodies between heavy equipment and the land.

Now they are being arrested and camp is being raided.

Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone people consider Thacker Pass to be sacred. So when they learned that the area was slated to become the biggest open-pit lithium mine in North America, they filed lawsuits, organized rallies, spoke at regulatory hearings, and organized in the community. But despite all efforts over the last three years, construction of the mine began in March.

That’s what led Native American elders, friends and family, water protectors, and their allies to establish what they call a “prayer camp and ceremonial fire” at Thacker Pass on May 11th, when they setup a tipi at dawn blocking construction of a water pipeline for the mine. A second tipi was erected several days later two miles east, where Lithium Nevada’s construction is defacing Sentinel Rock, one of their most important sacred sites.

Sentinel Rock is integral to many Nevada Tribes’ worldview and ceremony. The area was the site of two massacres of Paiute and Shoshone people. The first was an inter-tribal conflict that gave the area it’s Paiute name: Peehee Mu’huh, or rotten moon. The second was a surprise attack by the US Cavalry on September 12th, 1865, during which the US Army slaughtered dozens. One of the only survivors of the attack was a man named Ox Sam. It is some of Ox Sam’s descendants, the Grandmas, that formed Ox Sam Newe Momokonee Nokotun (Indigenous Women’s Camp) to protect this sacred land for the unborn, to honor and protect the remains of their ancestors, and to conduct ceremonies. Water protectors have been on-site in prayer for nearly a month.

On Monday, Lithium Nevada Corporation also attempted to breach the space occupied by the water protectors. As workers maneuvered trenching equipment into a valley between the two tipis, water protectors approached the attempted work site and peacefully forced workers and their excavator to back up and leave the area. According to one anonymous land defender, Lithium Nevada’s action was “an attempted show of force to fully do away with our tipi and prayer camp around Sentinel Rock.”

Ranchers, recreationists, and members of the public have been allowed to pass without incident and water protectors maintain friendly relationships with locals. Opposition to the mine is widespread in the area, and despite repeated warnings from the local Sheriff, there have been no arrests. Four people, including Dorece Sam Antonio of the Fort McDermitt Paiute-Shoshone Tribe (an Ox sam descendant) and Max Wilbert of Protect Thacker Pass, have been targeted by court orders barring them from the area. They await a court hearing in Humboldt County Justice Court.

“Lithium Nevada is fencing around the sacred site Sentinel Rock to disrupt our access and yesterday was an escalation to justify removal of our peaceful prayer camps,” said one anonymous water protector at Ox Sam Camp. “Lithium Nevada intends to desecrate and bulldoze the remains of the ancestors here. We are calling out to all water protectors, land defenders, attorneys, human rights experts, and representatives of Tribal Nations to come and stand with us.”

“I’m being threatened with arrest for protecting the graves of my ancestors,” says Dorece Sam Antonio. “My great-great Grandfather Ox Sam was one of the survivors of the 1865 Thacker Pass massacre that took place here. His family was killed right here as they ran away from the U.S. Army. They were never buried. They’re still here. And now these bulldozers are tearing up this place.”

Another spiritual leader on the front lines has been Dean Barlese, a spiritual leader from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Barlese led prayers at the site on April 25th (shutting down construction for a day) and returned on May 11th.

“I’m asking people to come to Peehee Mu’huh,” Barlese said. “We need more prayerful people. I’m here because I have connections to these places. My great-great-great grandfathers fought and shed blood in these lands. We’re defending the sacred. Water is sacred. Without water, there is no life. And one day, you’ll find out you can’t eat money.”

The 1865 Thacker Pass massacre is well documented in historical sources, books, newspapers, and oral histories. Despite the evidence but unsurprisingly, the Federal Government has not protected Thacker Pass or even slowed construction of the mine to allow for consultation to take place with Tribes. In late February, the Federal Government recognized tribal arguments that Thacker Pass is a “Traditional Cultural District” eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. But that didn’t stop construction from commencing.

“This is not a protest, it’s a prayer,” said Barlese. “But they’re still scared of me. They’re scared of all of us elders, because they know we’re right and they’re wrong.”

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O’odham Executed by Border Patrol: Statement by Raymond Mattia Family

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Raymond Mattia of the Tohono O’odham Nation was executed by US border patrol agents on May 18th at his home. He was reportedly shot 38 times.

A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border
Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from
10:00am-Noon.

For more information please visit: https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2023/05/us-border-patrol-shoots-tohono-oodham.html

Statement by Mattia Raymond’s family:

We have been trying to find the strength to write this statement. This tragedy is so
grievous because it is apparent what had happened. Raymond called for help and, in turn, was
shot down at his doorstep. Raymond’s rights were violated by the authorities whom we trust to
protect our Nation. Improper and unprofessional actions of the agencies involved were witnessed
by family members present near the crime scene. Loved ones sat in agony, not knowing of
Raymond’s condition until they were told that he had passed hours later. Raymond lay in front of
his home for seven hours before a coroner from Tucson arrived.
In our eyes and hearts, we believe that Raymond was approached with excessive and
deadly force that took his life. He was a father, brother, uncle, friend, and an involved
community member. Raymond always fought for what was right, and he will continue to fight
even after his death. This is not an isolated incident, but it should bring awareness of the
oppression our people live through.
We want to thank so many of you for your condolences and support. A GoFundMe for
defense funds will be available soon. A peaceful gathering to support all victims of the
unmonitored violent actions of the Border Patrol and other agencies will be held at The Border Patrol Station in Why, Az, and Tucson on Golf Links Road this Saturday, May 27th, from 10:00am-Noon.

Contact for support: justiceforraymattia@gmail.com

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