Monthly Archives: August 2011

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8/31/2011 The Advocate: Ignoring the epidemic – Contemporary Native American issues neglecte

8/31/2011 The Advocate: Ignoring the epidemic – Contemporary Native American issues neglected By Alexandra Waite, news editor: United States history classes may teach the injustices brought upon Native Americans by Europeans hundreds of years ago, but most do not take the initiative to find out how those acts are still largely affecting Native Americans today. Native Americans living on American Indian reservations experience some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment, disease, teen pregnancy and the worst housing conditions in our nation. Poverty is a recurring problem for Native Americans, but especially for those living on Native American lands.

An Indian reservation is an area of land managed by a Native American tribe under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Although the federal government recognizes more than 550 tribes in the country, there are only 326 Indian reservations.

Federal officials said violent crime rates on reservations are more than twice the national rate and epidemics of domestic and sexual violence exist, along with high instances of child abuse, teen suicide and substance abuse. There is also a proliferation of gang activity on reservations, yet law enforcement recruitment and retention across reservations lag far behind the rest of the nation.

These conditions Native Americans must endure hit close to home for me.

This July, I traveled by myself to Denver to meet my biological family, which is full Native American, for the first time. During that trip, my mother introduced me to the Native American culture within the city and opened my eyes to a problem not visible from the Bay Area.

Driving along the streets, one could identify the large presence of homeless Native Americans asking for assistance. Like my mother, many of these Native Americans left reservations at a young age to go to large cities, escape poverty and better their lives.

My mom and older sister live in Denver. My three younger siblings live a couple states away on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota while my mom tries to collect enough money to provide for them.

The Pine Ridge Reservation, located in Shannon and Jackson counties, is one of the poorest regions in the country.

The population of Pine Ridge suffers from health conditions commonly found in Third World countries, including high mortality rates, depression, alcoholism, drug abuse, malnutrition and diabetes. Reservation access to health care is limited and insufficient compared to urban areas.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, unemployment on the reservation ranges from 80 to 85 percent, and 49 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level. Many families have no electricity, telephone access, running water or sewage systems; many use wood stoves to heat their homes, reducing limited wood resources.

Gang-related violence is also an issue that plagues Pine Ridge with nearly 5,000 young men from the Oglala Sioux tribe involved in at least 39 gangs.

The gangs at Pine Ridge, along with many reservations in the Midwest, Pacific Northwest and Southwest, are blamed for an increase in vandalism, theft and violence and the growing fear of a changing way of life.

Court decisions involving serious crimes on reservations are investigated by the federal government, usually the FBI, and prosecuted by U.S. attorneys of the U.S. federal judicial district in which the reservation lies. These crimes have a low priority both with the FBI and most federal prosecutors, according to the Tribal Law and Order Resource Center. Serious crimes are often either poorly investigated or prosecution has been refused.

Tribal courts were limited to sentences of up to one year until July 29, 2010, when the Tribal Law and Order Act was enacted, which aims to reform the system and permits tribal courts to impose sentences of up to three years.

However, Indian Law and Order Commission Chairperson Troy Eid said most tribes determined they cannot afford to enact the law or are content with their current systems that do not always determine a winner and loser, instead focusing on collaborative or “restorative” justice.

Native Americans are by no means to blame for these issues they face and it is up to the federal government, the institution that forced them into this situation, to make long overdue reparations.

Finding resolutions to reverse the crime and poverty among reservations is a difficult task, but that does not mean the government should not do so at once, before Native Americans lose grasp of what diminishing culture they have left.

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians: While the US media censored the truth, the world was watching By Brenda Norrell: The release of thousands of Wikileaks cables includes the comparison of how the colonial United States government forcibly drove Native Americans from their homes, while Israel forcibly expels Palestinians from their homes. The new Wikileaks cables reveal that while the US media was censoring the truth, the world was watching. In a diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Kuwait released Friday, dated June 21, 2004, the US Embassy in Kuwait provides this quote from the media:

¶3. “Journey Of Tears” Mohammed Musaed Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Qabas (6/19): “The way the United States was founded is identical to the way the Zionist entity was founded. In America, Native Americans were forcibly driven away from their homes. Israel in 2004 is doing the same thing by forcibly expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, east of Jerusalem and Gaza. According to author Muneer Al-Akesh, America’s idea of exchanging a nation and a culture with another, through forcible evacuation and unjustified explanations, is in fact Israel’s historical raison d’etre. While Sharon is in Palestine, Bush is in Iraq. There is no difference.”

It is the second cable released in the past few days where US Embassies refer to media quotes about the atrocities committed by the US government and the exile of Native Americans.

A second Wikileaks cable revives an article censored by Indian Country Today. While the newspaper censored an article stating that the war in Iraq is a continuation of the atrocities inflicted on American Indians — the truth was already known around the world in Turkey.

The US Embassy in Turkey quoted Omer Ozturkmen in 2004, in the Wikileaks cable: “The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians.”

It is an important fact that Turkey knew this truth at the beginning of the Iraq war, because in the United States, this fact was being censored.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain, Ariz., longtime Navajo resister of relocation, was among the most vocal from the beginning opposing the war in Iraq. When Benally compared the war in Iraq to the forced exile and imprisonment of Navajos on the Long Walk by the US Calvary, the newspaper Indian Country Today, where I served as a staff writer, censored Benally’s comments in 2005.

Pressed to publish a correction, the newspaper refused.

Here are the censored comments:

Navajos at Big Mountain resisting forced relocation view the 19th Century prison camp of Bosque Redondo and the war in Iraq as a continuum of U.S. government sponsored terror.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing the murder, rape and starvation of their family and friends.

“I think these poor children had gone through so much, but, yet they had the will to go on and live their lives. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be here today.

“It makes me feel very sad and I apply this to the situation in Iraq. I wonder how the Native Americans in the combat zone feel about killing innocent lives.”

Looking at the faces of the Navajo and Apache children in the Bosque Redondo photo, Benally said, “I think the children in the picture look concerned and maybe confused. It makes me think of what the children in Iraq must be going through right now.

“The U.S. military first murders your people and destroys your way of life while stealing your culture, then forces you to learn their evil ways of lying and cheating,” Benally said.

We know now that not only were Benally’s comments censored at the time, but Native Americans and other peace activists were being stalked and spied on by law enforcement throughout the United States. The spy files of the Denver Police Department, made public, revealed that activists at Big Mountain were among those on the police watch list.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the truth was known that when American Indians viewed torture photos in Iraq, they recalled the atrocities inflicted on Native Americans.

A US diplomatic cable in Turkey, dated May 21, 2004, states:

“The US is in Trouble in Iraq”

Omer Ozturkmen observed in the conservative Turkiye (5/21): “The fact is, US diplomacy was mistaken in planning for the post-war scenario in Iraq. The US could never imagine the kinds of problems they were going to face there. The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians. Let us see how the president will explain the loss of American lives in Iraq during his campaign. When put next to the torture the Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of the coalition, Saddam’s Halapja massacre looks mild by comparison. Those obscene photos are already being circulated among international terrorist groups to recruit fighters against the United States. The Bush Administration, which at one time put sacks over the heads of allied troops, now buries its own head to hide its shame. The US is paying the price for excluding Turkey in its policies in Eurasia. It looks that that price will continue to be paid.”
Reference id: 04ANKARA2881 Origin: Embassy Ankara Time: Fri, 21 May 2004 16:38 UTC
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Finally, here are more of Benally’s comments from 2005:

Suffering and strength at Bosque Redondo
By Brenda Norrell
2005

BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. – Viewing a photo of Navajo children at Bosque Redondo for the first time, Louise Benally wondered which ones were her great-grandparents who endured the Long Walk to Fort Sumner, N.M. and suffered in the prison camp for four years.

”On my mother’s side they went: and my great-grandfather was just 5 years old. He had seen a lot of hard times, where parents and other relatives were killed,” Benally said.

”My grandma passed on three years ago – she was 116 years old. When she left, she would tell us that they did some healing ceremonies which were called ‘Without Songs.’ She would sometimes have me perform this one: ‘The Blacken Way.”’ She remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos who were driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing murders, rapes and starvation.

One-third of the 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache who suffered at the prison camp from 1863 – ’68 succumbed to pneumonia, dysentery, starvation and exposure.

She also said that some Navajos who eluded capture secretly helped others. ”On my father’s side of the family, they didn’t go on this march. But, as supporters from the outside, they brought food in the night and other health supplies.”

Benally is among the Navajos who are resisting forced relocation from her home on Big Mountain. The Navajo descendants of Long Walk survivors at Big Mountain gained strength and fortitude from their ancestors for their 30-year struggle to remain on the land as protectors, she noted.

Benally pointed out that the so-called ”Navajo and Hopi land dispute” resulted from legal maneuvers, documented by Colorado professor Charles Wilkinson, to remove Navajos from the land to make way for the expansion of coal mining on Black Mesa.

YouTube: Activists Plan Oct 6th Occupation in WA DC

YouTube: Activists Plan Oct 6th Occupation in WA DCBilly Welcome via Tanagila Winyan: Protests demand Obama use veto power to halt proposed expansion of Keystone XL pipeline that would carry tar sands oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico

8/27/2011 Gallup Independent: NN seeks congressional approval to issue mineral leases

8/27/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo Nation seeks congressional approval to issue mineral leases: By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – All it took was Delegate Leonard Tsosie playing the “sovereignty” card to trump a pair of objections by Attorney General Harrison Tsosie and Minerals Department Director Akhtar Zaman, and win Navajo Nation Council support of a bill that would give Navajo the power to authorize mineral leases without federal approval. The resolution sponsored by Delegate Roscoe Smith and promoted by Navajo Nation Oil and Gas would require congressional action to become law.

“When this was first entertained at the Resources and Development Committee, the Department of Justice had some issues,” Smith said, so the committee deferred the matter to DOJ. “In the memorandum back to the Resources Committee, they found that it was legally sufficient.” Former Navajo Nation Attorney General Louis Denetsosie, now Navajo Nation Oil and Gas vice president and general counsel, went before Council Aug. 19 to present the resolution. “I’m here on behalf of the board of directors who initiated the legislation before you. They thought it would be an opportune piece of legislation.”

The resolution would recommend amendments to 25 U.S.C. Section 415(e). Denetsosie said Congress wants to make some reform legislation in the energy area for Indian Country. “They have been coming to Indian tribes asking them to submit concepts for legal reform. … Navajo Nation Oil and Gas would like to be part of that discussion and their proposal is before you.”

The proposed amendment to the business site leasing statute is intended to be included as part of another proposed federal act entitled Native American Energy Development Regulatory Reform Act of 2011. The Council of Large Land Base Tribes excluded a similar provision to allow subsurface mineral leasing without Secretary of the Interior approval because other tribal leaders do not wish to absolve the United States of its trust responsibility.

Denetsosie said he and Zaman have worked together since 1982 on mineral matters on behalf of the Navajo Nation, always on the same side, but “Friends can have a difference of opinion and his opinion is that we shouldn’t do this at this time, and I strongly believe we should do it.”

Tsosie said the current request has two substantial changes to it. “I see it as my duty to make sure that you are fully apprised of the consequences that may result from the action you take – and there will be consequences.”

One thing the legislation would do is request the United States government extend the leasing provisions from its current 25 year limitation to 99 years.

“We just passed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples where we asked the nations of this world to recognize that Indian tribes should have title or ownership to their lands. Let’s say that happens 10 to 20 years from now, and it may be the case at that time that we are operating under Navajo laws instead of federal laws for leasing of our lands,” Tsosie said. “Those leases that were issued for 99 years would still be in effect and there’s not much we could do to absolve those leases if we wanted them to be otherwise,” because once given, there are constitutional protections.

The second issue is that the NNOG resolution is not limited to oil and gas mineral leasing, which is the only function of the company, but rather, the amendment language covers all minerals such as coal, copper, sand and gravel, and even uranium should the Nation ever lift its moratorium on uranium exploration and development. Tsosie and Zaman said Council needed to at least debate whether it was advisable to take that action.

In an Aug. 19 memorandum, Tsosie and Zaman stated that while on the surface the proposed legislation would seem to be in the interest of the Nation, the fact is that it may have serious underlying negative consequences.

If enacted by Congress, “the legislation could completely absolve the United States from all of its trust obligations to the Nation with regard to minerals leases approved by the Nation pursuant to this amendment,” including mineral lease revenue and royalty accountability, surface management and environmental oversight, the memo states.

It also would transfer all liability and costs associated with mining leases. The Nation could be a defendant in lawsuits from non-governmental organizations, mining industry and affected stakeholders. It also would need to provide millions of dollars in annual general fund revenues to create and enhance oversight and regulatory programs to perform functions the Nation now receives federal funding to perform.

Tsosie and Zaman recommended the resolution be given serious consideration before taking hasty action, however, Smith and Denetsosie said the window of opportunity would close Sept. 1. “This law will allow the Navajo Nation to create all kinds of opportunities and values for themselves. That is why I strongly believe that this should go forth,” Denetsosie said.

Delegate Leonard Tsosie reminded Council, “This is not final law, what we’re doing here. This is a request to Congress. … In talking to what the AG is saying that this will go from 25 to 99 years, you can control that by what’s in the lease. You could make the lease 25 years, 26, years, 30 years, 50 years, 99 years. It’s an option that the Navajo Nation will have.

“And then he’s kind of trying to spook this Council by saying, ‘What if things change on us?’ … I look at the memo from Aug. 19, and there’s no harm identified in there that will come to Navajo Nation. What they’re saying is if, if, if. … On the other hand, if the Navajo Nation is allowed to do this, we will control our own destiny, and I thought that that’s what we wanted all along. I thought that was what’s called our sovereignty – self-determination.”

Delegate LoRenzo Bates said he supported the intent of the resolution, but given the issues, “I can’t sit here and say I know enough about it to be comfortable with voting in favor.” He requested they refer it back to committee. But after Smith and Denetsosie mentioned the Sept. 1 deadline, the motion failed 6-10.

“We as an Indian nation would have sovereignty over our land through leases – leases we could administer up to 99 years,” Dwight Witherspoon said. The length of time could be determined on a case by case basis. “If we don’t have control of our land, we don’t have the opportunity to leverage it for loans, for development, and it really keeps us at a dependent status of the United States government. We need to reverse that trend,” he said.

The resolution passed 15-1 with Bates casting the dissenting vote.

8/29/2011 Asociated Press: Environmental review of Navajo mine moves forward

8/29/2011 Asociated Press: Environmental review of Navajo mine moves forward by SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN: ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A federal review of the potential environmental effects of expanding a coal mining operation on the Navajo reservation will continue uninterrupted after a panel of federal judges dismissed an appeal by the mine operator that tried to stop the assessment. Conservation groups hailed the decision from the three-judge panel with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The ruling prevents BHP Billiton from expanding its operation on tribal land in northwestern New Mexico while federal regulators re-assess the effects of the Navajo Minepermit on the environment and cultural and historic resources in the area. The mine covers thousands of acres and produces coal for the Four Corners Power Plant, one of the largest coal-fired generating stations in the U.S. The plant, operated by Arizona Public Service Co., provides electricity for customers in New Mexico, Arizona and other parts of the Southwest.

BHP Billiton said Monday it was reviewing the court’s decision and that operations were continuing in all areas except the parcel covered by the proposed expansion.

“BHP Billiton’s New Mexico coal operations have an overriding commitment to protect and care for the environment,” the company said in a statement, pointing to its reclamation work throughout the region.

Mike Eisenfeld of the group San Juan Citizens Alliance said the ruling affirms the responsibility of the U.S. Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement to “properly analyze the significant impacts” of mining on the parcel known as Area IV North.

The San Juan Citizens Alliance and Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment sued in 2007, claiming the agency violated federal laws when renewing the mine’s permit in 2004 and approving a revised permit in 2005.

They argue an environmental impact statement needs to be done before the revised permit can be approved. Such a review would require consultation with other federal agencies, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages endangered species in the Four Corners region.

The groups’ lawsuit claimed the Office of Surface Mining did not provide adequate public notice and failed to fully analyze potential consequences as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

The groups also complained the agency failed to assess the impacts of continuing to dump coal combustion waste from nearby power plants back into the mine.

In a ruling last October, U.S. District Judge John Kane of Colorado voided the approval of the 2005 permit. He requested that the Office of Surface Mining address potential environmental impacts and discuss mitigation measures, alternatives and possible conditions for approval of the permit.

Friday’s ruling stemmed from BHP Billiton’s appeal of Kane’s decision.

BHP Billiton has submitted a permit revision to mining regulators that includes Area IV North. Public meetings have been held on the application, but it’s unclear when the agency will issue a final decision on the permit.
http://www.chron.com/news/article/Environmental-review-of-Navajo-mine-moves-forward-2146516.php

Mike Eisenfeld
New Mexico Energy Coordinator
San Juan Citizens Alliance
108 North Behrend, Suite I
Farmington, New Mexico 87401
office 505 325-6724
cell 505 360-8994
meisenfeld@frontier.net

8/28/2011 Extremely High First Year Radiation Doses Predicted by Japanese Government in some areas

8/28/2011 Extremely High First Year Radiation Doses Predicted by Japanese Government in some areasby Gordon Edwards: Background: Deposits of radioactive fallout from Fukushima are highly variable, depending on weather conditions, precipitation, and nature of the releases — which include not only gases and vapours, but also “hot particles”, sometimes called “nuclear fuel fleas”, which are tiny but solid radioactive “cinders” from the disintegrated fuel elements. For those who may not know, MEXT is Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science & Technology. A note about the numbers: In Canada, the maximum extra radiation exposure allowed (by regulation) for a member of the public is 1 mSv per year. In the nuclear industry, any worker who is exposed to 1 mSv or more per year must receive special training. In North America, the maximum occupational exposure for an atomic worker is 50 mSv per year. In Germany, the maximum occupational exposure for an atomic worker is 20 mSv per year.

8/23/2011 Email From: Ko-ichi Nakamura: 8/23/2011 Greetings, I am forwarding Dr. Saji’s latest daily update by Ko-ichi Nakamura: (Dr. Saji is Ex-Secretariat of Nuclear Safety Commission, Japan). He is now retired, independent from any government or industry group. The following web sites may be your good source of info, what is going on everyday. http://jaif.or.jp/english/ http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/
Best regards, Ko-ichi Nakamura

8/23/2011 Email From: Genn Saji: Dear Colleagues: 161th-165th day!:

I. Extremely high first year doses predicted by MEXT. MEXT announced their estimation of the first year doses (starting from the day of the accident), at the 50 representative spots within the 20 km “vigilance (off-limit)” zone in view of the government intention of allowing re-habilitation of the evacuees. According to their measurements, the dose rates are orders of magnitude different within the same zone in Fukushima Prefecture. Among the extremely high doses recorded are these: 508.1 mSv at Koirino, Okuma-cho, 223.7 mSv at Kawafusa, Namie-cho, 172.4 mSv at Futaba-cho, 115.3 mSv at Koryougahama, Tomioka-cho, 53.1 mSv at Kanaya, Kotaka-ku, Minamisouma-shi.

Thirty five out of 50 locations exceeded the Government guideline of the first year dose of 20 mSv. The dose rates are greatly different even in the same district. For example, at Namie-cho, it was only 4.1 mSv at Kitaokusebashi, located only 8 km from the Fukushima Daiichi. I think overall dose maps have been shown in DOE/NNRI website by indicating above 20 mSv, however, these individual values higher than 20 mSv are the first released by MEXT.

Further studies of these phenomena are very important, I believe, since there are two possibilities. One is that these highly contaminated spots are induced by the black-rain/fallout as droplets from the plumes, mostly in a liquid state. The other case is that highly radioactive solid fuel particles were included in the plume which fell out during the plume passage.

In this case, the surface concentration should be much more localized than the first case. In the first case, the removal of wider surface soil should be necessary for decontamination. Whereas, in the second case, it is essential to locate the hot particles and remove them.

Being influenced by these facts, the Government is now saying that there will be some areas where rehabilitation will not be possible for an extended [number of] years, typically several tens of years. Mr. Edano, Chief Secretary of Diet, said on August 21 that the government is going to contact with the local communities to explain these prospects. It was reported that the government is going to purchase these areas, however, the local people may refuse to sell due to a strong affection towards their homelands. The Government is shifted to lent [forced to rent] the lands for decontamination until re-habitation will become feasible.

Through watching results of various decontamination activities being performed in Fukushima, I got an impression that decreasing the soil activation by one order of magnitude may be feasible, such as by removing the surface soil as well as disposing weeds and fallen leaves, reduction of two orders of magnitude may not be practical, due to secondary contamination possibilities. I once thought it is essential to decontaminate the very highly contaminated corridor stretching towards NW direction towards the Iitate-mura [village], however, I begin to think it will not be feasible if we consider secondary radiation doses expected for the workers. It is because most of these regions are in a Mountain district (Abukuma mountain chain).

The recent observation [recently observed] activities are now showing that a large fraction of radioactivity seems to be absorbed in leaves and barks of the trees. For decontamination, we need to dispose these biomass mass safely, As in the case of the “Red Forest” stretching towards the west direction from the Chernobyl reactor, the decontamination may be impossible. The Government should clearly explain to the affected people what can be done and what will be impossible, considering the secondary radiation risk.

II. Update of internal exposure in livestock

Since I covered this subject in July 30 as [Update #134], this issue is being reported almost every day in Japanese media. I would like to update this since another route of contamination [of beef] was discovered recently. It has been generally understood that the major pathway was through rice straw feed mainly produced in Fukushima, contaminated from the straw left in the paddy field at the time of the plume passage, through a rice straw feed –> cattle.

However, stocked beef meet from 12 cattle was found contaminated as high as 2.0E+3 Bq/kg, [2,000 becquerels per kilogram] twice the temporary guideline. The meat was produced at Namiemachi (10-30 km from Fukushima Dai-ichi) in April. This rancher has not used the rice straw feed, instead he was feeding with imported hay, all stored in a barn. The local government [guessed] that the contaminated air passing through the barn may have contaminated the hay. In view of this, the Fukushima Prefecture is requesting the Government to lift the restriction of marketing cattle from Fukushima, since they are now ready to perform monitoring of each cattle.

I first suspected the pathway is from inhalation, however, due to high retention factor of radioactive aerosol in vegetation, the prominent pathway seems to be through contaminated straw or hay feed.

III. Update of the water purification system

The new zeolite sorption process, developed by Toshiba/Shaw Group has started to commission on August 18, showing DFs as below for Line B:

Species pre-processing post-processing DF
(Bq/cm3) (Bq/cm3) Decontamination Factor
I-131 ND (<7200) 5.8 <1,200 Cs-134 1,100,000 21 52,000 Cs-137 1,300,000 23 57,000 The DFs were found to be approximately 10 time lower than expected, however, it is an order of magnitude better than Kurion's process. Because of the reasonably good performance, TEPCO configured this system to run parallel to the existing system. The parallel operation improved the total capacity of the water purification system by a factor of 1.5 with 70 tons/h, starting from the night of August 19. This started to reduce the total volume of the highly contaminated water. If everything works as planned, the backlog inventories may be clarified in several month. Partly being helped from this, all of the temperature readings of the [Fukushima Dai-ichi Unit 1 plant] went below the boiling point on 11 PM on August 19. The temperature readings of [Units 2 and 3] are still 118.4/126.4, [degrees Celsius] respectively. Genn Saji

1994 SPECIAL HEARING: DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE FORMER BENNETT FREEZE AREA

1994 SPECIAL HEARING: DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE FORMER BENNETT FREEZE AREAThe federal government cannot wash its hands of the deprivation it has brought to the Bennett Freeze area victims. The Court decision modifying the ban was only the first step—now, the United States government must play a critical role in bringing the Area back in step with the rest of modern America. It has, I believe, a profound moral and legal obligation to remedy the deprivation it has imposed. By the terms of the Freeze, the Navajo residents were not even allowed to help themselves build better lives. Nor does the Navajo Nation, having watched its housing, roads, and other infrastructure decay, have the resources to make up for the years of progress the Bennett Freeze area was denied. The federal government must help remedy the grave injustice and tragedy it imposed on the people of the former Bennett Freeze area.

8/28/2011 Washington Examiner: Navajos focus on Little Colorado River settlement

8/28/2011 Washington Examiner: Navajos focus on Little Colorado River settlement By: FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press: The Navajo Nation, unwilling to settle its claims to the Colorado River without a pipeline to deliver much-needed water to its residents, now is focusing on rights to water from one of the river’s tributaries. Negotiators on a northern Arizona water rights settlement have removed from the deal a $515 million pipeline that would have delivered water to the Navajo and Hopi reservations. Even with the lower cost, however, it remains uncertain when the revised settlement might be introduced in Congress. Navajo lawmakers approved a version of the settlement last year. That version included the pipeline to send 11,000 acre-feet of Colorado River from Lake Powell to a handful of Navajo communities and about 4,000 acre-feet of water a year to the Hopi reservation.

But Republican Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, who has shepherded key American Indian water rights deals through Congress, later said it was too costly and asked the negotiators to revise it.

Kyl’s office declined to comment on the revised settlement that negotiators sent him in June because it’s not final. But in a letter to the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Kyl said the revised document marks only the next phase of conversation and that “it is possible that those costs will have to be further reduced.”

“Because of the estimated cost associated with a main-stem settlement, the parties pulled back and focused simply on a Little Colorado River settlement,” said Tom Whitmer, a water resource manager and tribal liaison for the state water department. “The federal government’s budget is not in the most healthy state. Whenever you start talking about settlements, it’s also about the cost of the infrastructure to get the water to the area it’s needed.”

Under the revised settlement, the Navajo Nation still would get any unclaimed flows from the Little Colorado River and nearly unlimited access to two aquifers beneath the reservation. It also would settle claims from the Hopi Tribe, which did not follow the Navajos’ footsteps in approving the settlement last year.

“I think we’ve gotten some things in there we feel good about,” said Hopi Chairman Le Roy Shingoitewa. “Whether or not they remain is really something the parties all have to agree to.”

Both the Navajo and Hopi are party to a case to adjudicate rights to the Little Colorado River, which has been on hold to allow for settlement discussions. Aside from Zuni Pueblo, no other Arizona tribe has acquired rights to the river, Whitmer said.

The revised settlement was revealed in a separate federal court case earlier this month in which the Navajo Nation sued to assert its rights to the Colorado River. The negotiators said in a status report that they did not expect any settlement to be approved by Congress until late next year.

They also outlined further concerns by Kyl, including the future of the Navajo Generating Station that provides power to deliver water through a series of canals to 80 percent of the state’s population and ensures that American Indian water rights settlements are met.

Kyl had asked negotiators for the tribes and 30 other entities to try to lower the $800 million cost of the settlement so that he could introduce legislation well ahead of his planned retirement.

Navajo water rights attorney Stanley Pollack said the settlement was structured so that the pipeline could be removed if necessary and that he would not bring it before tribal lawmakers without Kyl’s blessing.

Although the pipeline has been dropped from the settlement, neither the Navajo Nation nor the Hopi Tribe has waived rights to water from the Colorado River.

The revised settlement would provide the delivery of some 6,400 acre-feet of Colorado River water to Navajo communities in Arizona, along the New Mexico border. The water was reserved for a possible Navajo water rights settlement with the state of Arizona as part of a historic deal with Arizona tribes in 2004. The water would be delivered through the Navajo-Gallup pipeline authorized by the Navajo Nation’s water agreement with New Mexico in 2009.

The Arizona settlement for the lower Colorado River basin had been in negotiation for more than a decade. Tribal officials say they’ll now have to come up with other ways to provide water in areas where Navajos commonly drive long distances to haul water for themselves and their livestock. Some smaller projects are in the works.

Ray Yazzie Begay, 45, had high hopes for a pipeline that would deliver water to his community in Cameron. Much of the water there has a bitter taste, he said, and is good only for showering and livestock feeding. He recently was filling up a 210-gallon water tank outside the Cameron Trading Post that was destined for his sheep, cattle and horses a few miles away.

A pipeline “would bring a lot of good things to the community,” he said. “A lot of us live out there in the back areas.”

Navajo lawmaker Duane Tsinigine said the need for water is especially prevalent on the western side of the reservation, where Navajos were prevented from making any improvements to their home or land for decades because of a land dispute with the Hopi Tribe. The construction ban has been lifted but many in the community are still awaiting basic needs, he said.

“Maybe we can file for a separate settlement, which if we filed we might not see in this lifetime,” he said.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/08/navajos-focus-little-colorado-river-settlement-0#.Tlrg5qffoZw.email#ixzz1WO8qKBu2Read more at the Washington Examiner:

Four Corners Free Press: Living with the legacy of uranium on the Navajo Nation

Four Corners Free Press: Living with the legacy of uranium on the Navajo Nation By Sonja Horoshko: Box Springs, Ariz., is cut off by the Little Colorado River from access to any paved roads or the conveniences of groceries, gas stations, banks, electricity and power, not to mention jobs and economic development. But the community’s willingness to solve its own problems is gaining it recognition as one of the most pro-active areas on the Navajo Nation. Surrounding the tiny hamlet is the country in the Navajo Nation Western Agency referred to by some as “Cancer Alley” – the heart of leetsoii, the uranium belt stretching through the Navajo Nation to the Four Corners region.

It is a place where unregulated water sources are poisoned with contaminants left behind by the un-remediated abandoned mining operations begun in the mid-1940s to fuel the Atomic Energy Commission and the Cold War.

As if the lack of safe, potable water isn’t problem enough, Box Springs, a community of less than 150, is 30 miles from Leupp, Ariz., the nearest town — a drive that often takes an hour. Harsh winter weather and the crenellated, pitched washboard of the partially graveled road add stress to the difficult, typically wind-whipped trip to haul drinking water twice a week for consumption and hygiene. The necessity is the dominant concern for all families living there.

On a mid-April Friday morning, the Tahonnie family opened their home to another community meeting of their grassroots organization, The Forgotten Navajo People, to hear from the Navajo Department of Water Resources about plans for a waterdelivery schedule beginning that day and to welcome the first 4,000-gallon water truck to the area.

“It is a blessing today, “said Rolanda Tahonnie. “A lot of progress has been made here, so it’s a beautiful day. Two years our water barrel has been completely empty and now it’s full.”

Thirty percent of Navajo families living on the reservation haul drinking water, compared to 1 percent of the U.S. population nationwide. With gas prices exceeding $3.80 per gallon and the expense of wear and tear on the vehicle, the price tag for Navajo consumers is more than 10 times the cost of water for a typical household in Phoenix, one of many Arizona metropolises fed by the water found beneath the reservation and transported through it to cities lying south of the reservation boundaries in Arizona.

The new water truck was bought with a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant awarded to Indian Health Services, providing the Navajo Department of Water Resources funding for a three-year Safe Drinking Water Hauling Feasibility Study and Pilot Project.

Its huge shiny white hulk rumbled over the hill into the clearing that served as a casual parking area filled with pick-ups and trailers loaded with empty water containers. Following close behind was another truck hauling a new trailer and two 200-gallon tanks to be used by the residents there to move their personal water from the Tahonnie watering point and storage tank to homes further out in the community. Tó … Tó … Tó … (drip, drip, drip)

“Today is a great day,” said Forgotten People program director Marsha Monestersky. “Box Springs and the Forgotten People have become the heart of the Navajo reservation. It is the beginning.”

The program is a model that can work in all communities tucked into remote locations where water is scarce and roads are rough. “We are working with Department of Water Resources to schedule regular delivery points here in the Western Agency chapters, including Canyon Diablo, Gray Mountain and Cameron and then Coal Mine,” Monestersky said.

“It is a model water-hauling project,” added the director of DWR, Najam Tajiq. But it was a tough crowd gathered in the room: the local people, the real experts at hauling water. They directed their concerns to him about the lasting reliability of the program.

Benson Willie told Tajiq that they will need to strengthen the one bridge crossing a small arroyo on the road. It was not built to withstand repeated trips carrying the weight of a 4,000-gallon water truck and, he said, “The spigot on the Tolani Lake storage tank has been broken for months. We aren’t allowed to fix it, even though it’s a job any high-school student could do. We’ve been told it’s under warranty and it’s NTUA’s responsiblility.” NTUA is the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority.

Adding to the challenge is the anticipated heavy maintenance and repair of the truck because of the ongoing Navajo Department of Roads maintenance issues.

In their mission statement, the Forgotten Navajo People write that they are dedicated to the rebuilding of the communities using a participatory methodology that strives to empower the local communities and ensures that they own and control their sustainable development agendas.

At the meeting, Don Yellowman, president of the group, explained progress at the two additional test-well projects upstream on the Little Colorado at Black Falls Crossing and near Leupp. If the water found there is potable and palatable, it will be piped through 12.4 miles of new waterline extensions to 155 homes in the area of concern.

Someday the water will be here, he told the group. “Nine homes now have bathroom additions and fixtures plumbed and ready for the water when it comes, and they were built by sharing each other’s labors, organizing the people’s teamwork in a traditional Diné way with Black Falls Project Manager Ronald Tahonnie.”

Blue gold

By 2007, the United Nations had announced two human-rights-to-water declarations. The first, issued in 2002, said, “The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses.” It requires governments to adopt national strategies and plans of action which will allow them to “move expeditiously and effectively towards the full realization of the right to water.”

But in 2007 the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights expanded the statement to include in the definition, “the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to a sufficient amount of safe drinking water for personal and domestic uses. . .” ensuring a sufficient amount of water that is “good quality, is affordable for all and can be collected within a reasonable distance from a person’s home.”

The description fit the needs of Navajo people throughout the reservation. FNP began to work on a submission to the U.N. that would eventually lead to a 2010 historic declaration and help from its own central government in Window Rock, and a Navajo Commission on Emergency Management “Declaration of Public Health State of Emergency” for Black Falls/Box Springs/ Grand Falls.

Contamination in the water sources is attributable to uranium-mining and other natural-resources mining practices that began in the mid-1940s. Monestersky said, “The people here have been drinking contaminated water from unregulated livestock sources and springs for more than 40 years. This was our opportunity to address the issue on a global scale, to declare a humanrights emergency.” The case they submitted contained comments from interviews of Diné people denied access to water due to uranium contamination throughout the Navajo Nation, including their neighborhoods in Grey Mountain, Tuba City, Moenkopi and the New Lands.

Currently, the Diné are threatened by new uranium mining just outside their borders, despite a ban on such mining within the Navajo Nation, issued in 2005 by former president Joe Shirley, Jr. Adverse health effects continue, according to the stories in the document prepared by the Forgotten Navajo People, as a result of more than 1,100 un-reclaimed uranium sites throughout the Navajo Nation. The document includes graphic testament to conditions inflicted on the people living around Peabody Coal Company mining operations who are denied access to safe drinking water due to destruction, degradation and diminution of their water sources.

The report also includes a statement alleging that, “The Diné live on lands the U.S. Department of Energy calls a ‘National Sacrifice Area’.”

Response to the submission strengthened relationships with partners already work- ing on the cataclysmic environmental and health disaster. The U.S. EPA Superfund, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Energy, Navajo Nation EPA, Navajo Abandoned Mines, DWR, and others, working on remediation and attribution of responsibility, have activated programs addressing the issues since the mid-1990s.

In 2006, Judy Pasternack, journalist and author of “Yellow Dirt,” began publishing excerpts from her work-in-progress in the Los Angeles Times.

The series painted a stark picture of national disgrace and neglect and the continuing presence of radioactive contamination in the Navajos’ “drinking supplies, in their walls and floors, playgrounds, bread ovens, in their churches, and even in their garbage dumps. And they are still dying.”

Hope fueled the work of the grassroots organizations. The Forgotten Navajo People began to feel remembered. They knew best what was needed in their own community and assumed the role of experts working toward solutions.

Ticking meters

But while the picture may have improved for Box Springs, at least in regard to drinking water, the dark legacy of uraniummining hangs over the Navajo Nation like a specter.

A month after the water-hauling meeting, the U.S. EPA announced a Superfund meeting in Tuba City on the Abandoned Uranium Mines project in the Western Agency. Nearly 200 people representing all the communities in the Western Agency crowded the conference room on May 14 with members of several Navajo grassroots environmental-justice and natural-resources organizations, including the Forgotten Navajo People.

Svetlana Zenkin, site assessment manager with EPA Region 9’s Superfund Division, explained the mine screening that provided for the initial evaluation of 520 sites found by 2000. During the first four years of a five-year plan of action, 383 of the sites throughout the reservation have been screened in an initial evaluation.

Sites under investigation in the Western Agency chapters include mines, transfer stations, homes and outbuilding structures, hogans, schools, water sources, tailing piles, landfills, barrow ditches, access roads and the Rare Metals mill site east of Tuba City. All 126 were identified in the original study found in the Abandoned Mines 2000 Atlas. The initial investigation of these was to be completed by the end of May, yielding a prioritized list identifying sites requiring additional investigation.

“Our main goal was to gauge the level of interest in the region, educate the people about our progress and to locate what sites people come into contact with that we didn’t know about,” said Zenkin.

The biggest surprise of the meeting was the contamination level discovered for a site east of the Cameron Chapter House on the west side of the Little Colorado River, not far from Box Springs.

According to Alex Grubbs, a representative of Weston Solutions, the Superfund contract environmental consultants for the project, “The meter maxed out three times … at a million,” which is an actual reading of 1,000 radiation counts per minute— a relative measure of radiation to the surrounding background area. Background radiation is typically between 5 and 60 cpm, rarely exceeding 100 cpm.

Although people in the community believe the site may have been a transfer station for ore, Zenkins said, “We hesitate to label the site until we have finished the intensive study required of such a screen. It has definitely moved to the top of the priority list.”

“Superfund” is a retroactive liability law, not a monetary fund. It has the authority to identify and locate hazardous sites and require the responsible party to fund the clean-up — even if it is a government entity such as the Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (former Atomic Energy Commission).

Contaminated water is the highest-priority threat because it is the most direct internal contaminant. Today, the subject of safe, clean water is also a hotly contested issue in the Northeastern Arizona Indian Water Rights Settlement.

In a special session in November 2010, the 21st Navajo Nation Council voted 51-24 to pass legislation supporting the settlement.

Ron Millford, a concerned Navajo citizen and opponent of the settlement, asked Superfund project manager Debbie Schechter for a clarification of authority. “Does the EPA Superfund have authority over waivers contained in the settlement?” According to Millford, “The waiver releases all claims against the state or corporations — including Arizona Power Service and Peabody Coal, that may pollute the environment,” including violations of the Clean Water Act.

Because the Superfund can go after any responsible party, it seems logical that it would have authority over such a waiver.

Schechter told Millford, “It is a question that we will ask the EPA lawyers, and get an answer for you on this.” At the time of this writing, Millford had not heard a response from the lawyers.

Green dust

Afternoon breakout groups at the May 14 meeting gave citizens an opportunity to tell their stories directly to the Superfund project managers. Of great concern was potential future contamination from possible Grand Canyon uranium-mining.

A single-parenting father of two young boys said, “I teach my sons to clean up after themselves, to be responsible. What will they think when they learn about the mining residue left behind by the corporations at these natural-resources operations?”

He added that the dust is everywhere and he’s concerned for his children who may play in contaminated soil picked up and blowing in the wind. Another young man called its presence in the windstorms, “unavoidable green dust,” and another woman added that children continue risk exposure when they put it in their mouths. “It tastes like rock candy,” she said.

Sarana Riggs, a young woman living in Tuba City, said she is very concerned about “the potential 50 trucks a day transporting uranium ore from the Grand Canyon through Cameron and Tuba City, Monument Valley and the Utah strip of Navajo Nation to the mill in Blanding, Utah.”

“What is the level of our awareness?” she asked. “What education can we be doing for our communities to prevent a repeat of this contamination and its aftereffects?”

Those answers remain unclear.

ABC World News: Spirit Bears: The Next Environmental Superstar

ABC World News: Spirit Bears: The Next Environmental Superstar: REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK By DAVID WRIGHT (@abcdavid): GREAT BEAR RAINFOREST, British Columbia, Canada, Oct. 13, 2010: The Great Bear Rainforest is not an easy place to get to. It’s a wilderness area the size of Switzerland, all but cut off from the rest of civilization. Our ABC News team traveled by float plane. There are no roads here and no landing strips except for the flat stretches of water along the fjords. What brought us to this remote corner of Canada is the spirit bear — “Canada’s panda” — black bears with white fur because of a genetic variation.

With no more than 500 of them on Earth, spirit bears are more rare than pandas.

Click here to see a slide show of spirit bears

The spirit bear is the marquee species for a region that’s also crowded with whales, wolves and eagles.

“It’s a magnificent bear,” said Ian McAllister, director of the nonprofit conservation group Pacific Wild.

Today, the Great Bear Rainforest faces a threat — a massive oil pipeline from Alberta to British Columbia, Canada. The plan would turn the spirit bear’s home into a superhighway for supertankers.

“They want to bring Big Oil to this coast,” McAllister said. “The only thing that’s standing between that is really the spirit bear, the concerted efforts from conservationists and the First Nation [native] people.”

Conservationists Call in the Cavalry: So the naturalists who long fought to protect the rain forest called in the photographic equivalent of the Green Berets — the International League of Conservation Photographers. “It is a SWAT team of photographers that are deployed to an area that needs immediate media attention,” said the organization’s president, Cristina Mittermeier.

“Some of them do large-format landscapes. Others are extraordinary wildlife photography shooters,” she said. “We have an underwater photographer. The idea is to create a snapshot of this area.”

Thomas Peschak, a photographer with Save Our Seas Foundation, spent most of his time in the frigid water eye-to-eye with the fish.

“There’s large sea stars, colonies of Steller sea lions, humpback whales, orcas,” Peschak said. “This place is just bursting at the seams with life. It’s one of the richest systems on this planet.”

Landscape photographer Jack Dykinga waited for hours for just the right light as aerial photographer Daniel Beltra worked from the open door of a helicopter.

Beltra spent the summer over the Gulf of Mexico, documenting the Deepwater Horizon spill in dazzling camera shots that make environmental disaster look like modern art.

National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen’s assignment was to capture images of the spirit bear.

“You have to have patience and passion,” he said, sitting quietly in the woods. “You have to have both of those. There are very few spirit bears, so if you want to see them you have to put in the 18-hour days for six days at a time just to see a glimpse of this white bear.”

Marven Robinson, our guide, is a bear tracker for the Gitga’at Nation tribe, which is native to the region. The Gitga’at Nation consider the spirit bear sacred.

“We call it ‘moskam al.’ Moskam means white and al means bear,” he said.

Robinson said that until recently, his tribe spoke about the bears only in whispers.

“We weren’t even allowed to talk about it,” he said. “If we were sitting at the dinner table, you know, and someone mentioned that they’d seen one. … They’d tell you, ‘Shh, keep it quiet.'”

Pipeline Through the Rain Forest: The residents of Hartley Bay, Robinson’s hometown of 150, held a potluck dinner for the visiting photographers. Among the delicacies was fresh seal meat and smoked sea lion.

Helen Clifton, a tribal elder, said the elders strongly oppose the pipeline.

“We, the red race, were to be keepers of the land,” she said. “We need all of you to help our spirit bear that we have out there.”

But proponents of the pipeline say there’s no cause for alarm, that the pipeline would skirt the Great Bear Rainforest. The oil would travel through the region only in modern, double-hulled tankers and guided by tugboats. They add that the pipeline would bring jobs to the region.

“We believe the potential for a spill is remote,” said John Carruthers, president of the Northern Gateway pipeline project. “We’ll also put in very thorough plans in the event of a spill, but the public needs to know we can respond very effectively if there is one.”

The Enbridge oil company, unfortunately, has had some practice. An Enbridge pipeline in Michigan burst this summer, spilling 1 million barrels of oil into the Kalamazoo River, which flows into the Great Lakes. Last month, one of the company’s pipelines in suburban Chicago started to leak.

It’s little wonder that the fishermen are skeptical and worried that an oil spill could destroy their way of life. “This is my bread and butter,” one said.

The Search for the Spirit Bear Continues: The second day of our hunt for the Spirit bear involved a strenuous hike into an even more remote patch of woods. Robinson, our bear tracker, said the area was off limits to everyone. Only he and his guides were allowed to enter.

The moss was so thick and soft, it could be used as a pillow. The place was so quiet that the only sound, besides the rapids, came from the salmon swimming upstream and the ravens flapping their wings overhead.

There was plenty of evidence that bears recently had been there — fresh salmon killed on the rocks of the river and fresh bear droppings in the woods.

We hid quietly by the side of the river.

“This is where the bears are most likely coming to feed on salmon,” Robinson said. “[With] the carcasses all over, you know, there’s good signs.”

The Search for the Spirit Bear Continues: Almost immediately, a white form emerged from the woods — a lone wolf surprised to see humans. Black bears arrived. We waited and waited until the light faded. Disappointed, we trudged out of the woods. On our last day of shooting, we set off early in hopes of better luck. And suddenly, there he was in an open field at the edge of the woods.

“It really feels like a ghost,” said National Geographic photographer Nicklen. “You feel like you’ve seen a ghost — the way they so seamlessly slip back into the forest and they’re gone again. You have to look at your pictures to realize what you’ve just seen. It’s just amazing.”