Quechan

LOCAL TRIBES SEND CARAVANS TO AID STANDING ROCK SIOUX OPPOSED TO DAKOTA PIPELINE

Videos on social media show heavily armed police  arresting “water protectors” today; San Diego rally planned Oct. 30

Update Oct. 7, 2016: Hear our interview on KNSJ Radio with Bobby Wallace by clicking the audio link

By Miriam Raftery

September 28,2016 (San Diego)—“We must, we will, bring more supplies. Our number one goal is to help the people,”  Barona tribal member Bobby Wallace told East County Magazine.

Winter will soon bring bitter cold to the Standing Rock Sioux encampment in Cannnonball,North Dakota, where “hundreds of tribes” have sent thousands of people camp out and take a stand against the Dakota access oil pipeline.  Wallace has been organizing relief supplies gathered by local tribes to support  the effort.

Speaking last week at an Activist San Diego meeting in San Diego,  Wallace told of the reactions when he arrived with the first caravan of supplies for the three camps.”Men, people, had tears in their eyes.  People hugged us…just knowing people far away cared.”

Audio: 

NATIVE AMERICAN ARTISTS SOUGHT FOR ARTWORK ON ANZA HISTORIC TRAIL: DEC. 31 DEADLINE

 

November 6, 2014 (San Diego's East County) - The California Indian Heritage Center Foundation is calling for Native American artists to produce new visual artwork that shares the Native Californian perspective of the Anza Expedition of 1775-76 and its impact. The visual art will enter the collection of the California Indian Heritage Center Foundation for display and interpretation. It will also be used by the National Park Service for education and interpretation of multiple perspectives of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail.

QUECHAN NATION MOURNS ANCESTORS IN OCOTILLO

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 28, 2014 (Ocotillo) – Tribal members from the Quechan nation traveled by caravan to Ocotillo on January 17 and 18 to mourn the desecration of their ancestors’ burial grounds by the Ocotillo Express Wind Farm. Tribal members met at the Ocotillo Community Center and staged a run carrying a banner reading "We want respect for our ancestors' remains" to the wind site, where they held an all-night mourning ceremony for their ancestors.

Pattern Energy's industrial wind facility was built  atop lands known as “Valley of the Dead” by Native American tribes for over 10,000 years. The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians also objected to the desecration of ancestral remains and persuaded the California Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) that the state should take action on their behalf, but those efforts were thwarted by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION HEARING ON OCOTILLO ISSUES SET FOR APRIL 22 IN SAN DIEGO

 

By Miriam Raftery

April 12, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – The California Native American Heritage (CNAH) Commission will hold a hearing in San Diego on Monday, April 22 at 11 a.m. The hearing will focus on results of an NAHC investigation into local tribes' allegations that the federal government failed to protect Native American cultural resources at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility site.

The hearing will be in the State of California Building, 1350 Front Street, San Diego 92101 (between A and Ash Streets).  

A hearing previously set for February was cancelled without explanation. The CNAH had issued a  draft report in support of claims by the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians and Quechan Indian Nation that the Bureau of Land Management failed in its duty to protect cultural resources, including human remains and sacred sites, at the Ocotillo project.  The draft staff report detailed a disturbing pattern by the BLM, Pattern Energy and a project archaeology consultant of ignoring tribal concerns and failing in its duty to protect cultural resources. 

JUDGE RULES IN FAVOR OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND PATTERN ENERGY IN TWO LAWSUITS OVER OCOTILLO WIND

By Miriam Raftery

March 2, 2013 (San Diego) -- U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Quechan Indians over cultural resource impacts of the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.   In addition, the federal judge denied  motion sought by the Desert Protective Council to protect raptors at the site.  

"It is discouraging that our democratic system of checks and balances has broken down in relation to the administration's determination to usurp our public lands for industrial energy development,” said . Terry Weiner, Imperial County Projects and Conservation Coordinator at the Desert Protective Council. “  If we can no longer count on the courts to force our federal agencies to adhere to their own laws, how  are the American citizens supposed to protect our national natural and cultural heritage for future generations?"

CA NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION ISSUES REPORT BACKING VIEJAS AND QUECHAN CLAIMS OF OCOTOILLO WIND SITE HARM TO SACRED SITES

 

Commission urges CA Attorney General to file suit if mitigation requests not met

Update February 12, 2013: A hearing set for February 15 in San Diego has been postponed.

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2013 (Ocotillo ) – The California Native American Heritage Commission (CNAH) has issued a report in support of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians and the Quechan Indian Nation claims that the Bureau of Land Management failed in its duty to protect cultural resources including human remains and sacred sites at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.  The draf staff report details a disturbing pattern by the BLM, Pattern Energy and a project archaeology consultant of ignoring tribal concerns and failing in its duty to protect cultural resources.

The tribes petitioned the NAHC to investigate and conduct a public hearing to consider tribal requests to declare the entire 12,500 acre site a ‘sanctified cemetery’.  Tribes also seek to have the project halted to assess damage and want agencies to consult with tribes to agree on mitigation measures to prevent further harm to a broader region. The case has broad national significance, with hundreds of millions of acres of public lands slated for renewable energy projects.

The NAHC has cancelled a Public Hearing that had been scheduled at the State of California Building on Front Street in Downtown San Diego for February 15, offering no explanation for the indefinite postponement.

FEDERAL JUDGE HEARS QUECHAN TRIBE’S CASE ON OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT HARM TO SACRED SITES

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 21, 2013 (San Diego) – On Friday, January 18, U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the Quechan tribe of the Fort Yuma Indian Reservation against the U.S. Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Pattern Energy and other defendants.

The suit contends that the federal government failed to protect Native American cultural resources, including sacred sites, when it allowed the Ocotillo Wind Energy Facility to be built. Moreover, Quechan contends that the federal government's reclassification of protected lands to accommodate the wind project was arbitrary--and that a similar decision to industrialize almost any public lands regardless of damage to resources could be done if the government's action is allowed to stand. 

FEDS DRAW CRITCISM FOR HEARINGS ON SACRED SITES: TRIBES ASK WHY NO RECORDINGS WERE MADE NOR NOTES TAKEN

 

Tribal representatives say Interior Dept.  is not sincere about resolving concerns over sacred site desecrations by renewable energy projects on public lands

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Why did the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) host the first in a series of five “listening sessions” with Native American leaders ostensibly to address tribal concerns over impacts of renewable energy projects on public lands—yet didn’t bother to take notes or record the sessions?

Why are no listening sessions scheduled in California or anywhere near our state, where some of the most controversial renewable energy projects are being built atop the graveyards of Native Americans’ ancestors?   

BLM RESPONDS TO ECM INQUIRY ON NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS AT WIND SITES

By Miriam Raftery

July 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – After forensic dog teams identified dozens of potential ancient human remain sites at energy projects on Bureau of Land Management property in Ocotillo and McCain Valley, as ECM reported this week, ECM asked the BLM what steps it intends to take to assure that any Native American remains are protected.

Two officials from the BLM have responded to our inquiry.

TRIBAL MEMBERS HOLD VIGIL AT OCOTILLO WIND SITE

Public asked to join with tribes on June 23



“The snake was moved but kept coming back, just like our people.  We will continue to keep coming back.” – Preston Arrowweed, Quechan elder. He believes unusual animal visitations at site are signs from Indian spirits, asking his people to help.

By Miriam Raftery

Jim Pelley, Denee ‘Estevane’ Woolley, and Susan Massey also contributed to this report

June 7, 2012 (Ocotillo)—Neither blistering heat nor blowing dust dissuaded Native Americans from at least four tribes from taking part in a five-day occupation in Ocotillo last week. 

They came to be with the spirits of their ancestors.  They also aim to show that desert devastation occurring with construction of the Ocotillo Express wind facility is wrong and must be stopped. 

JUDGE TO CONSIDER RESTRAINING ORDER TO HALT OCOTILLLO WIND FRIDAY IN SAN DIEGO FEDERAL COURT

By Miriam Raftery

May 16, 2012 (San Diego) – On Friday at 2 p.m., a federal judge will consider a temporary restraining order motion filed by the Quechan Indian tribe seeking to halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility site on federal land.

Despite discovery of six more cremation sites with what are believed to be human remains (12 sites total) that federal law requires be preserved, Pattern Energy is moving forward with heavy equipment, destroying vast acreage in the fragile Yuha desert near Ocotillo.

SUIT FILED TO HALT OCOTILLO WIND AS COALITION HOLDS PROTESTS IN SAN DIEGO AND EL CENTRO

 

“This is nothing more than a public land grab for private profit. The BLM is literally giving this away to corporations…This may be out in the desert today, but tomorrow it could be in your backyard…Already over a dozen projects are proposed in San Diego and Imperial County.” – Robert Scheid, Viejas media relations

May 16, 2012 (La Jolla) – At a press conference yesterday outside the gleaming corporate towers occupied by Pattern Energy in La Jolla, a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and outraged citizens urged President Barack Obama to stop fast-tracking of massive energy projects on public lands and halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility immediately.

Heavy equipment has begun grading the site, ripping massive ocotillo cacti out by the roots, burying burrowing owl nesting sites and breaking hearts of the many people who love this  desert land.

ECM contacted the White House to request an interview with President Obama. No response has been received.

BROKEN PROMISES: OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT WINS APPROVAL DESPITE OUTCRY FROM TRIBES, RESIDENTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

 

 

 

April 26, 2012 (Ocotillo) – A former firefighter who has parachuted into raging wildfires, Viejas Community Relations Director Charlie Brown (photo, left above) has no shortage of courage. But he choked back tears as he spoke about what Ocotillo and its ancient geoglyphs means to him and other tribes that have long considered the site sacred.

Brown has heard stories from his grandfather, who lived to be 109, about Ocotillo--where mountains are named in tribal creation stories. He has taken his own son there to learn about his heritage. One giant geoglyph is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places. Tribes across the southwest convene here for sacred ceremonies.

But soon, Brown fears, the sound of turbines atop his ancestors’ graves will “be like beating on somebody’s soul…sacrificing something that’s been there for 10,000 years.”  http://youtu.be/FbPmplN2UDA.

WIND STORM : TRIBES IMPLORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT, SAVE CULTURAL RESOURCE SITES

 

“We believe that DOI [Department of the Interior] is poised to violate the law and our rights to religious freedom and our cultural identities guaranteed by DOI’s own policies, the United States Constitution, and international declarations. We need your help.” --Chairman Anthony Pico, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, in a letter to President Barack Obama

Part I in an ECM special report series on potential impacts of the Ocotilllo Wind Express project

By Miriam Raftery

March 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – For months, Ocotillo residents and conservationists have been waging a David and Goliath battle seeking to stop Pattern Energy’s proposed Ocotillo Wind Express project. Now Kumeyaay, Cocopah,Quechan and other Native American tribes have banded together to oppose the massive project-- joining residents, desert conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts who seek to protect resources from destruction—including hundreds of cultural and archaeological sites. 

On March 28, the Imperial Valley Planning Commission will rule on whether to approve the controversial project, which would generate power for San Diego County.  At the federal level, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior  is expected to issue a final decision  by May 1.  A petition seeking to stop the project has been launched by Ocotillo residents:  http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no- ... y-project#.  

6 BIG DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS GET UNWELCOME HOLIDAY SURPISE: NATIVE AMERICAN GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST BLM FOR FAILURE TO CONSENT

December 28, 2010 (Blythe, CA)-- La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, a Native American cultural protection group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, challenging the Bureau of Land Management permitting processes regarding six large solar facilities planned for the Mohave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts of Southern California (Case No.10CV2664 WQH WVG), including an Imperial Valley Solar project slated to hook up to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink.

FEDERAL JUDGE HALTS FIRST LARGE-SCALE SOLAR PROJECT ON PUBLIC LANDS


Judge grants Quechan Indian tribe’s request for temporary injunction on Tessera Solar plant in Imperial Valley;
decision has ramifications for large-scale energy projects in East County and across the nation
 

By Miriam Raftery
 

December 16, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – Local and statewide activists battling massive energy projects on public lands are praising a decision issued by U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns yesterday, while the CEO of Tessera Solar says he is "deeply disappointed" in the ruling.

 

The federal Judge issued a temporary restraining order halting construction on the first massive desert solar project authorized on public lands—a project that if built, would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world.

TRIBE SUES TO BLOCK DESERT SOLAR PROJECT; PROTESTERS GATHER IN OCOTILLO TO OPPOSE ONE OF WORLD'S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECTS


Environmentalists, desert enthusiasts and East County organizations also object to Tessera’s 10-mile-long, 6,000-acre desert solar farm which would tie in to Sunrise Powerlink

 

By Miriam Raftery