Tag Archives: United States

Repeal The Deal


Tucson Weekly, Issue Jul 2-8, 2015

The San Carlos Apache tribe and supporters take on corporate backroom politics in a fight for the sacred lands of Oak Flats

If this were a title fight in the ring, it would be a mismatch—lightweight versus heavyweight: the San Carlos Apache tribe, (reservation population of 10,000) versus the United States Congress and its tag-team partners, Australian-British mining conglomerate Resolution Copper (parent company Rio Tinto) and BHP Copper (BHP Billiton subsidiary).

There’s a lot more than a title belt and bragging rights involved here. Apache tribal members (called Ndeh, The People, whose heritage is tied to Mother Earth) are fighting to save a big chunk of land they have long considered sacred. Resolution Copper just wants what’s under that land and they’re willing to destroy it to get to the prized metals below.

“We’re fighting a multi-billion dollar company as well as our own Congress, so we’re facing power and money and influence,” says Wendsler Nosie, Sr., former tribal chairman and coordinator of the Apache Stronghold protest. “This action constitutes a holy war where tribes must stand in unity and fight to the end.” To which current tribal chairman Terry Rambler adds: “What was once a struggle to protect our most sacred site is now a full-on battle.”

While an immediate reversal of this potential environmental disaster is akin to snowballs in either Hell or Arizona, opposition support is increasing. This is a David versus Goliath clash that Native Americans around the world are watching as momentum gathers for the cause.

In the fall of 2014, Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake (along with U.S. Reps. Ann Kirkpatrick and Congressman Paul Gosar) teamed up in subterfuge to underhandedly attach a land swap measure, the Southeast Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, to a must-pass National Defense Authorization Act bill in which 2,400 acres of Apache holy land in and around Oak Flat Campground near Superior was covertly exchanged for 5,300 acres already owned by Resolution Copper.

It was a big-time sneak attack that Nosie called “the greatest sin of the world” and the New York Times termed “a sacrilegious and craven sell-off … an impressive new low in congressional corruption.” From the East Coast to the West Coast, dissention began to fester. The Los Angeles Times reported “the long fight over access to the federally-protected land has ignited a feud that has split families and ended lifelong friendships.”

A group called the Arizona Mining Reform Coalition also publicized: “This is the first and only act of Congress that gives a Native American sacred site to a foreign corporation.”

It might be pertinent to note here that McCain and Flake have both received campaign contributions from the multi-national mining operation. McCain points out that Arizona is the largest copper-producing state in the nation and insists that support for the controversial legislation is strong in his home state—depends on who you ask.

McCain further cites that over a six decade life of the proposed mine (reported to involve the largest undeveloped copper resource in the world), it would represent a $60-plus billion project offering employment to 3,700 workers with a payroll in excess of $100 million annually as well as increased local, state and federal tax revenues.

What he neglects to spend a lot of time in explaining is the fact that in the process of extracting this ore, the massive machine maws clawing at an ore body 7,000 feet below ground level would essentially destroy the natural state of hallowed land just east of the tribe’s reservation, land that has been home to indigenous peoples since pre-historic times where acorns and medicinal herbs are gathered and coming-of-age ceremonies are held.

Rambler acknowledged the Oak Flat issue as one of many challenges the Apache people were facing in trying to protect their way of life. “At the heart of this is freedom of religion, the ability to pray within an environment created for the Apache. Not in a man-made church, but like our ancestors have believed since time immemorial, praying in an environment that our creator God gave us. This is where Apaches go to pray and the best way for that to continue to happen is to keep this place from becoming private land. We’re against this specific project because it’s going to desecrate and destroy this whole area and the Apache way of life. We must stand together and fight—and we’re drawing a line in the sand on this one.”

“It’s atrocious the way this has been handled,” says tribal elder Sandra Rambler. “I came to Chich’il Bildagotell for my coming of age ceremony and that of my granddaughter’s. This is ancestral land used for ceremonies, graduations, funeral gatherings’—my great-great grandmother is buried here. It’s my turn to fight for it to be passed on to my children and the unborn yet to come.”

Back in February, protestors marched the 44-miles from San Carlos tribal headquarters to the campgrounds where 300 of them held a weekend-long Gathering of Nations Holy Ground Ceremony. It was a weekend of solidarity epitomized by preacher John Mendez who said, “This is a protracted struggle, but what the system doesn’t know, what Resolution Copper doesn’t know, is there is nothing that can break our spirit and keep us from moving forward to victory.”

Attendees expressed a common consensus. “This isn’t an Apache issue nor even a Native issue, it’s a human issue,” says Navajo Earl Tulley of CARE (Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment). He was joined by Sylvia Barrett, representing Concerned Citizens and Retired Miners, who graphically noted that “Resolution Copper has blatantly thrown the finger in our direction.” Retired miner Orlando Perea, who spent 40 years underground, says “They’ll create an environmental catastrophe here. As far as I’m concerned, Senator McCain can go to Hades for his underhanded dealings.” Standing nearby, Gila River tribal resident Bernadette Thomas chimed in: “Big money and politics want to destroy this sacred place and that’s just wrong.”

At the campground, after most had shown their support and departed, a core group set up an encampment digging in for the long haul. “We are organized as a spiritual mission with Apache Indigenous roots and intend to maintain occupation here,” according to Stronghold spokesperson Laura Medina.

“Living at this site is like coming home,” Nosie added. “The whole environment of this place brings spirituality and turns doubters into supporters. Call it an ‘occupation’ if you will, but the right words are ‘we are coming home’. We’ve created a fire that cannot be extinguished, and while it becomes a bit scary not knowing what tomorrow will be like, we are not going to vacate this area. The system and Resolution Copper may not know it, but this is a protracted struggle, and if we stay true to task, we will win.”

The Apache cause got a big boost two weeks ago when Congressman Raul Grijalva, ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee, introduced a “Save Oak Flat” bill seeking to repeal “the congressional giveaway of sacred Native American land.”

In his press release, Grijalva noted: “What this unpopular corporate giveaway was doing in the national security bill is anyone’s guess, but we shouldn’t wait any longer to repeal it. Congress shouldn’t be in the business of helping big corporations at others’ expense—and it certainly shouldn’t break faith with Native American communities. I’m proud to lead a three Republican, 12 Democrat bipartisan team in saying we should repeal this giveaway.”

Despite President Obama’s signature on the measure, even the White House had initially expressed displeasure as to how the legislation flew under the radar and into passage. “I am profoundly disappointed with the provision of the bill that has no regard for lands considered sacred by nearby Indian tribes,” said Interior Secretary Sally Jewel.

While Resolution wants the copper and Native Americans want their holy lands left untouched, the company’s Project Director, Andrew Taplin, thinks there is still room for some compromise. “This is often framed as an ‘either/or, one or the other’ issue, but my view is, with some constructive dialogue and understanding of the issues getting talked through, we could actually have both. This can be a wonderful project of benefit to many, done in a manner respectful of tribes that have traditionally used this land. I believe you can have respect for development of a project like this one and still have careful consideration of the religious and cultural concerns the San Carlos Apache tribe has.”

In fact, the company’s Frequently Asked Questions page answers “What are you doing to address the concerns of Native Americans” by stating, “We are doing our best to respect their sovereignty and be sensitive to the needs of all Native American tribes.”

“I’m confident we can respectfully and responsibly develop this project and do it in collaboration with tribal leadership. I consider my role to be that of a relationship builder, not just somebody who wants to dig a big hole in the ground.”

Resolution will do that, however, if things move forward as now planned in what will become the largest producer of copper in North America, an estimated billion pounds of copper per year, with production scheduled to get underway by mid-2020.

The former Magma #9 mine site (adjacent to the on-going installation of the Resolution #10 shaft) used a method called cut-and-fill to mine high grade veins of copper that played out at about 4,200 feet. They extracted and backfilled, not so with the Resolution Copper plan of attack. They’ve been transparent, albeit unapologetic, in acknowledging that their 2,400-page Mine Plan of Operation calls for block-and-caving protocol to get to the 7,000-foot level where they are confident a large deposit of 1.5 percent grade ore lies. Although the plan subtly alludes to the fact that “the area might be subject to adverse effects from project activities,” their actions will leave something resembling a giant meteor crater.

“Our planned method of mining is the only commercially viable option with the least environmental impact,” Taplin says, noting that other mines in nearby Miami and San Manuel have used the same method. “This particular method is not unusual in Arizona, it’s not new to the state. Because there isn’t enough strength in the rocks to support the material we’ve removed, it will result in a surface depression. Based on our modeling, we anticipate surface subsidence could be as much as 2 miles in diameter and crater-like in nature—up to 1,000 feet at its deepest point.”

Tailing dumps of up to 500 feet high could occupy as many as 10 square miles that would storm drain into nearby Queen Creek. “What people see in older mine tailings is not representative of what regulators will allow us to construct here,” Taplin adds. “We have an obligation for progressive reclamation, so there will be no impact on ground or surface water supplies.”

Reference the economic enthusiasm for the multi-billion-dollar project, company publicity calls it “a major job creator. We’re confident the headcount estimates are accurate and represent the number of people we will have on each shift, each day, to undertake the work needed,” Taplin says.

Later this year, one of the key components of the project, a NEPA environmental survey, will commence, expected to take a number of years to complete with numerous opportunities for public consultation. As far as the Oak Flat Campground occupied by protestors—”We listened carefully to the concerns of the San Carlos Apache tribe prior to the passage of the land exchange bill and addressed those concerns to the fullest extent possible. On going access to the campground will continue as long as it is safe to do so, and we expect access will continue for a number of decades. Another concern was for adequate protection of Apache Leap, so 800 acres have been put into permanent protection status and we’ve foregone any mineral rights in that area,” Taplin says.

Chairman Nosie remains unconvinced. “This project won’t benefit anyone, except Resolution Copper and its stakeholders,” he says. “The fight’s on, and from this point going forward, wherever it takes us, that’s where we’ll be.”

Repeal options now exist, but only ime will tell.


People Hunt Endangered Animals, So This Woman Hunts Poachers

Credit: ViralBru

Credit: ViralBru

by Amanda Froelich | True Activist, Posted April 8, 2015

A group of retired US vets have just landed in Africa, and their mission is to deter poaching before it contributes to the elimination of endangered species.

The effects of poaching are not to be taken lightly. According to the African Wildlife Foundation, rhinos, elephants, and other types of African wildlife may go extinct in our lifetime. Take, for example, the Black Rhino: populations of this magnificent animal have decreased by 97.6% since 1960. It’s very clear that unless some heavy force and invested interest is given to help reduce rates of poaching, the entire planet will suffer from loss of biodiversity and the greed that is causing it.

One way activists in the United States are supporting an end to poaching is by enlisting retired vets to take part in an organization that puts their years of combat training to work overseas. The non-profit VETPAW (Veterans Empowered To Protect African Wildlife) is focused on protecting African wildlife from illegally being hunted and captured.

And a recent addition to that group is Kinessa Johnson, a US Army veteran who served for 4 years in Afghanistan. At the end of March, she and a team arrived in Africa to take on a new mission: According to her, “We’re going over there to do some anti-poaching, kill some bad guys, and do some good.”

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

Johnson and her team of fellow Vets arrived in Tanzania on March 26th, quickly getting down to work. She has already noticed a decrease in poaching activity in her team’s immediate area because their presence is known.

…And if you take a minute to look at the build and confidence just Johnson exudes from years in dangerous territory, you likely can understand why. Her team’s primary focus at the moment will be to train park rangers and patrol with them to provide support.

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

African park rangers are in serious need of assistance, as she mentions, “they lost about 187 guys last year over trying to save rhinos and elephants.” The training they will provide includes marksmanship, field medicine, and counter-intelligence.

Kinessa joined VETPAW because she loves animals, and because protecting endangered species is a cause that speaks to her heart. Because Africa experiences the highest rates of poaching in the world, it made sense for her to volunteer her strength and skill to help protect some of the wildlife who are too easy of a target for poachers. Another incentive is because revenue made from selling parts from slaughtered endangered species usually goes to fund war and terrorism in Africa. So helping to combat the first act of violence will hopefully help to reduce other aspects of conflict elsewhere.

According to Johnson, “After the first obvious priority of enforcing existing poaching laws, educating the locals on protecting their country’s natural resources is most important overall.”

Taking to social media, Ms. Johnson is helping to raise money and awareness for the cause. She now has over 44,000 followers on Facebook and Instagram. And if you take time to check out her profiles, you’ll discover amazing photos of exotic African animals and updates on what her team is accomplishing.

Credit: CDN

Credit: @KinessaJohnson

You can also support Johnson and her team by donating to VETPAW and sharing their mission. Soon you’ll be able to watch Johnson and her team on a new show, as their efforts are being captured by the Discovery Channel!

When asked if her or her team had killed any poachers yet in a Q & A forum on Reddit, she stated, “We don’t operate with the intent to kill anyone.” The African poachers would be well advised not to test this All-American bad-ass on that though.

Source: True Activist

Detained Mothers Launch Hunger Strike



About 40 mothers being held at an immigration detention camp in Karnes, Texas, have launched a hunger strike to protest the detainment of their children as the families await immigration and asylum hearings, according to detainees and advocates working on their behalf.

Kenia Galeano, a 26-year-old mother from Honduras, said in a phone interview that the mothers will not eat, work or send their children to school at the detention center until each of the detainees is released. She said the mothers came to the United States seeking shelter, but are being treated as prisoners.

“We’re many mothers, not just me,” she said. “We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said they were unaware of any residents who actually agreed to participate in a hunger strike. They said ICE is closely monitoring the situation for any potential heath and safety issues. ICE is also investigating claims from residents at the Karnes facility who allege a member of a non-profit group encouraged residents to stop eating at the facility to protest their detention.

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to voice their opinion without interference, and all detainees, including those in family residential facilities such as Karnes, are permitted to do so,” Nina Pruneda, an ICE spokeswoman, said in a statement.

More than 80 women had initially signed a petition to take part in the strike, but many dropped out after at least two women were placed into isolation with their children in the detention center’s clinic, according to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, an advocacy and legal services group working with in Texas. Johana De Leon, a legal assistant with the group said other mothers were warned they could lose custody of their children as a result of participating in the strike.

Since July, more than 2,500 immigrants, mostly women and children, have been detained at family detention centers.

The Karnes detention camp is one of three facilities set up to house mothers and children in the United States. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is boosting its efforts to house mothers and children who have arrived in the country illegally. Advocates say it’s inappropriate to house women and children who have legitimate asylum claims. But the government says it’s important to send a message back to their home countries that those who cross the border illegally will be captured held and returned.

ICE officials said family residential centers are an effective and humane way to maintain family unity as families go through immigration proceedings.

In a phone interview with a reporter, Galeano said no one outside the facility encouraged the mothers from participating in the strike. She said she’d been held for five months, but that some women in the facility had been there with their children for 10 months.

She shares a small room with three other mothers and their children. She said the detention center has had a dramatic impact on her 2-year-old son, whose moods have taken emotional swings. She said he’s become depressed and has lost weight because he’s not eating. She said the food is not culturally appropriate.

“The children don’t eat,” she said. “The conditions here are not right. They’re not good for children.”

Anti-oilsands activists in the U.S. are getting visits from the FBI

Megan Jeffs, 19, watches the controversial megaload move through Marsing, Idaho, on Dec. 28, 2013. Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States ??? knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members. The visitors are federal agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Idaho Statesman - Darin Oswald

Megan Jeffs, 19, watches the controversial megaload move through Marsing, Idaho, on Dec. 28, 2013. Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States ??? knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members. The visitors are federal agents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, The Idaho Statesman – Darin Oswald

By: Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Unexpected visitors have been dropping in on anti-oil activists in the United States — knocking on doors, calling, texting, contacting family members.

The visitors are federal agents.

Opponents of Canadian oil say they’ve been contacted by FBI investigators in several states following their involvement in protests that delayed northbound shipments of equipment to Canada’s oilsands.

A lawyer working with the protesters says he’s personally aware of a dozen people having been contacted in the northwestern U.S. and says the actual number is probably higher.

Larry Hildes says it’s been happening the last few months in Washington State, Oregon and Idaho. He says one person got a visit at work, after having already refused to answer questions.

“They appear to be interested in actions around the tarsands and the Keystone XL pipeline,” Hildes said in an interview.

“It’s always the same line: ‘We’re not doing criminal investigations, you’re not accused of any crime. But we’re trying to learn more about the movement.'”

He’s advised activists not to talk — and they mostly haven’t. That lack of communication has made it a little complicated to figure out what, exactly, the FBI is looking for.

The bureau hasn’t offered too many clues.

One agent left his name, number, and the following message in a voicemail for Helen Yost of the group Wild Idaho Rising Tide: “I work with the FBI. Could you give me a call back — I would appreciate it.”

Is anti-oilsands activity an actual focus of the FBI investigation, or is it merely incidental? The bureau won’t say.

What it will say is that it only investigates potential crimes, not political movements.

“The FBI has the authority to conduct an investigation when it has reasonable grounds to believe that an individual has engaged in criminal activity or is planning to do so,” said FBI spokeswoman Ayn Dietrich.

“This authority is based on the illegal activity, not on the individual’s political views.”

But activists say oilsands opposition appears to be the common thread among people being contacted. Police have been in touch with people from different groups, who in some cases don’t agree on much, but one thing they share is mutual participation in the so-called megaload protests.

Those are the intermittent highway blockades set up the last few years to complicate the enormous, football-field-sized shipments of processing equipment up to the oilsands.

Yost said only two people from her group participated in that anti-oilsands action — and those are the people who’ve been contacted by the FBI. She has refused to co-operate.

The other person, Herb Goodwin, was visited at home by an FBI agent and a veteran detective from the local police force in Bellingham, Wash. He said the federal agent told him: “We’re here to ask whether you’ll answer some questions for us about Deep Green Resistance.”

That group, DGR, calls itself a radical environmental movement that believes the biggest problem with the planet is human civilization itself. It proposes a shift back from agriculture to a hunter-gatherer horticultural lifestyle.

It also proposes a four-step program called decisive ecological warfare, a long-term plan calling for the sabotage and dismantling of planet-harming infrastructure.

The group has repeatedly stated that it wouldn’t participate itself in any such actions. But Lierre Keith, one of its founders, laid out the plan in a speech last year at an environmental conference at the University of Oregon.

“I would vastly prefer to wage this struggle non-violently,” Keith said. “But my blogging will not bring forth the necessary numbers. So given a realistic assessment of what we actually have, the only viable strategy left that I can see is direct attacks against infrastructure. In the plainest terms, we need to stop them.”

There was some controversy about inviting her to the conference. Other groups wanted her event cancelled because of her views on transgender people — Keith dismisses the notion that a sex change can undo someone’s gender perspective.

Hildes said the FBI tried asking people about that Oregon speech. Since Yost’s group was among those voicing opposition to DGR, she believes the FBI might be trying to sow division in the movement.

The Canadian government said it wasn’t involved in any U.S. law-enforcement effort. A spokesman said it was aware of the megaload protests, but hadn’t discussed them with any American agency.

Goodwin said he won’t stop protesting. He’s among the nearly 100,000 people who have signed a pledge to engage in civil disobedience, should the Obama administration approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

He called it a life mission to help thwart the development of the oilsands in Canada and the Bakken fields in the U.S. “If we don’t stop that stuff we’re never going to convert to alternative energies that don’t pollute the atmosphere,” he said.

5 Ways The Government Keeps Native Americans In Poverty

Indian Reservation

Native American Reservation

By Shawn Regan | Forbes

Imagine if the government were responsible for looking after your best interests. All of your assets must be managed by bureaucrats on your behalf. A special bureau is even set up to oversee your affairs. Every important decision you make requires approval, and every approval comes with a mountain of regulations.

How well would this work? Just ask Native Americans.

The federal government is responsible for managing Indian affairs for the benefit of all Indians. But by all accounts the government has failed to live up to this responsibility. As a result, Native American reservations are among the poorest communities in the United States. Here’s how the government keeps Native Americans in poverty.

Indian lands are owned and managed by the federal government.


Chief Justice John Marshall set Native Americans on the path to poverty in 1831 when he characterized the relationship between Indians and the government as “resembling that of a ward to his guardian.” With these words, Marshall established the federal trust doctrine, which assigns the government as the trustee of Indian affairs. That trusteeship continues today, but it has not served Indians well.

Underlying this doctrine is the notion that tribes are not capable of owning or managing their lands. The government is the legal owner of all land and assets in Indian Country and is required to manage them for the benefit of Indians.

But because Indians do not generally own their land or homes on reservations, they cannot mortgage their assets for loans like other Americans. This makes it incredibly difficult to start a business in Indian Country. Even tribes with valuable natural resources remain locked in poverty. Their resources amount to “dead capital”—unable to generate growth for tribal communities.

Nearly every aspect of economic development is controlled by federal agencies.

All development projects on Indian land must be reviewed and authorized by the government, a process that is notoriously slow and burdensome. On Indian lands, companies must go through at least four federal agencies and 49 steps to acquire a permit for energy development. Off reservation, it takes only four steps. This bureaucracy prevents tribes from capitalizing on their resources.

It’s not uncommon for years to pass before the necessary approvals are acquired to begin energy development on Indian lands—a process that takes only a few months on private lands. At any time, an agency may demand more information or shut down development. Simply completing a title search can cause delays. Indians have waited six years to receive title search reports that other Americans can get in just a few days.

The result is that many investors avoid Indian lands altogether. When development does occur, federal agencies are involved in every detail, even collecting payments on behalf of tribes. The royalties are then distributed back to Indians—that is, if the government doesn’t lose the money in the process.

Reservations have a complex legal framework that hinders economic growth.


Thanks to the legacy of federal control, reservations have complicated legal and property systems that are detrimental to economic growth. Jurisdiction and land ownership can vary widely on reservations as a result of the government’s allotment policies of the nineteenth century. Navigating this complex system makes development and growth difficult on Indian lands.

One such difficulty isfractionated land ownership. Federal inheritance laws required many Indian lands to be passed in equal shares to multiple heirs. After several generations, these lands have become sofractionated that there are often hundreds of owners per parcel. Managing thesefractionated lands is nearly impossible, and much of the land remains idle.Energy regulations make it difficult for tribes to develop their resources.Darrin Old Coyote, chairman of the Crow Tribe in Montana, puts it plainly: “The war on coal is a war on our families and our children.” Coal provides the greatest economic opportunity for the impoverished tribe, but regulations are making it hard for the tribe to capitalize on their natural resources. Some are even trying to prevent the tribe from exporting coal to Asia.The federal government has repeatedly mismanaged Indian assets.

Screen-Shot-2014-03-13-at-3.03.58-AMTribes historically had little or no control over their energy resources. Royalties were set by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, but the agency consistently undervalued Indian resources. A federal commission concluded in 1977 that leases negotiated on behalf of Indians were “among the poorest agreements ever made.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t gotten much better. A recent class action suit alleged that the government mismanaged billions of dollars in Indian assets. The case settled in 2009 for $3.4 billion—far less than what was lost by the feds.

Reservations contain valuable natural resources worth nearly $1.5 trillion, according to a recent estimate. But the vast majority of these resources remain undeveloped because the federal government gets in the way. Ron Crossguns of the Blackfeet Tribe recently put it this way: “It’s our right. We say yes or no. I don’t think the outside world should come out here and dictate to us what we should do with our properties.”

As long as tribes are denied the right to control their own resources, they will remain locked in poverty and dependence. But if tribes are given the dignity they deserve, they will have the opportunity to unleash the tremendous wealth of Indian nations.

Originally curated by Forbes 3/13/2014