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.
Canines identify dozens of sites in path of wind and power line projects
Wind developers “cooperate” with tribes on searches-- but SDG&E refuses to allow dogs on its ECO-Substation site
Story by Miriam Raftery
Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott, Miriam Raftery, and Jim Pelley
July 18, 2012 (McCain Valley) – Weaving across cactus-studded terrain in McCain Valley, Piper, a border collie trained to find ancient human remains, pauses to sniff the ground. Ears erect, he sits, alerting handler Lynne Engelbert, who records the GPS coordinates. (Click video to view.) Minutes later, Piper’s find is independently confirmed by a second search dog.
Bill would also ban public from accessing environmental impacts of tribal projects
By Miriam Raftery
July 5, 2012 (Washington D.C.) –The Native American Energy Act, HR 3973, has been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill, which seeks to remove “bureaucratic obstacles” to energy production on tribal lands, would also severely impede residents, environmentalists or even neighboring tribes who file lawsuits to stop tribal energy projects.
July 4, 2012 (Santa Ysabel) -- An official of the Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino announced that the facility will continue to operate as usual while it seeks to restructure its debt under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law.
The tribeʼs attorneys filed the petition yesterday in federal bankruptcy court Southern District of California.
June 19, 2012 (Jamul)—The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 8 to 1 that a lawsuit seeking to shut down a Michigan casino can go forward.
The suit, filed by casino opponent David Patchak, argues that the federal government acted illegally in placing land in trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake) band of Pottawotami Indians, because the tribe was not recognized until after the Indian Reorganization Act passed in 1934.
The Supreme Court stated that the decision was not based on the merits of the case. Should Patchak’s argument prevail, however, the ramifications could impact some 50 other recently recognized tribes across the nation--including the Jamul Indians.
East County Magazine to form carpools from San Diego to desert vigil June 23-24
By Miriam Raftery
June 13, 2012 (Ocotillo) – As bulldozers raze their ancestors’ graves, Native American tribes across the southwest are asking for the public’s help to stop the desecration.
If you believe this heartbreak funded by taxpayer dollars is wrong, please join with tribes of all nations to take a spiritual stand together against despoilment of these once protected desert lands for private corporate gain.
Determined to halt the Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express wind energy project, tribes of all nations will gather for a traditional dusk-to-dawn ceremony to mourn disruption of their ancestors' burial sites. From 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 to dawn on Sunday, June 24, members of the public are encouraged to join with Native American neighbors in the Ocotillo desert for these spiritual ceremonies.
June 8, 2012 (Alpine) – Looking for something fun, free and cool for the kids to do this summer? Your child or teen can receive a free bowling game each week-day this summer, along with bowling shoes, in Viejas Bowl’s new “Say Yes to Bowling” program. The fun starts in June and continues on through August.
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.
HUNTER, BILBRAY AND ISSA VOTE TO WEAKEN PROTECTIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN & OTHER MINORITIES VICTIMIZED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
By Miriam Raftery
May 18, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) sharply criticized HR 4970, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow 222-205 vote. The House version of the Violence Against Women Act contained amendments that weaken protections for domestic violence victims on tribal lands, as well as for immigrant and gay women.
It's a shame that this so-called violence against women bill could actually cause violence to women," said Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), who voted against the measure. "This bill is outright dangerous."
But San Diego’s three Republican Congressmen—Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa—all voted for the House measure.
“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.
By Miriam Raftery
May 15, 2012 (Santa Ysabel) -- The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel is accusing San Diego County officials of acting illegally in attempting seizure of the tribe’s governmental funds.
Tribal Chairman Virgil Perez said his Tribe’s agreement with the County allows the attachment of proceeds from the Tribe’s casino, but prohibits the County from seizing non-gaming funds.
Perez said he received notice that the County tried to seize every dollar the tribe had in over 20 accounts--including federal grant funds obligated for operation of the tribal government, housing, environmental protection, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for road improvements, Indian Child Welfare Act matters, as well as state funds for elder and veterans services, and the minors trust fund.
April 28, 2012 (Alpine) – A retired firefighter from Scripps Ranch is $744,553 richer after taking a detour to Viejas Casino while on an errand in Alpine. Lloyd S. came to Alpine on April 23 to get his motorhome painted. When he discovered the shop was closed, he decided to make a quick detour to Viejas Casino. After just four spins on the popular Wheel of Fortune progressive slot machine, Lloyd hit it big with a jackpot totaling $744,553.18!
April 27, 2012 (Alpine) – The Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. will be holding its 6th annual Spring Gathering on April 28 at 4058 Willows Road, Alpine from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. The event is to raise public awareness for sexual assault, child abuse and supervised visitation.
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.” .
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#.
March 20, 2012 (Jamul)--The Jamul Indians have revived plans to build a casino on their 6.2-acre reservation—this time with a dramatically different approach. The new plans reflect changes that seek to address backlash from neighboring community members who opposed failed proposals in the past.
San Diego Workshop Evaluates Controversial Large Solar and Wind Projects, Desert Conservation, “Rooftop” Solar and Distributed Energy Opportunities in Mexico and the U.S.
March 14, 2012 (San Diego) — Indigenous leaders from San Diego County and across the state are set to meet with renewable energy and conservation experts, and lawmakers in a workshop on Friday, March 16, to evaluate strategies for renewable energy implementation in Southern California and Northern Baja California, Mexico.
Controversial energy projects in the Southwest deserts have raised concerns about large-scale impacts to desert ecosystems, endangered and threatened species and Native American cultural resources. Several legal challenges by tribal and environmental groups are being heard in Federal Courts in the United States and Mexico. Projects have repeatedly been stopped and delayed.
March 1, 2012 (East San Diego County) -- The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians has announced that they are donating $2,500 for the recovery of “Chance,” the dog that was found shot on the Viejas Reservation earlier this month.
February 18, 2012 (San Diego) -- The 41st annual American Indian Pow-Wow will be held on March 17 at San Diego State University.
This free event, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the San Diego State Alumni Association, Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, and the SDSU President's Leadership Fund.
February 3, 2012 (Sacramento) --The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) has announced the group’s new officers for 2012.
CHAIRWOMAN - Leslie Lohse, Treasurer of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California.
VICE-CHAIRMAN - Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Luiseño Indians.
SECRETARY-TREASURER - Margie Mejia, Chairwoman of the Lytton Rancheria of California.