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Forgotten People’s Library Project

The beginning of a great new Library Project to preserve and share the living history of the Resistance to Relocation in Big Mountain and Black Mesa

The beginning of a great new Library Project to preserve and share the living history of the Resistance to Relocation in Big Mountain and Black Mesa


Utah, New Mexico, Colorado AGs consider legal action over contamination

Utah, New Mexico, Colorado AGs consider legal action over contamination. Toxic mine waste water still flows out from broken tailings pond at old goldmine in Southern Colorado, contaminates 3 main rivers in the southwestern USA  ‪#‎AnimasRiver‬ ‪#‎Colorado

12PM: Colorado health official: No river health risk

 SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will meet with his Colorado and New Mexico counterparts Wednesday to talk about the legal, health and environmental implications of the Colorado mine spill.
The three attorneys general will hold a news conference after the meeting in Durango, Colorado.

Reyes had an “urgent” conference call with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas on Monday and talked on the phone with Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman on Tuesday, according to Reyes spokeswoman Camille Anderson.

“We hope to work with our sister states to ensure our citizens are protected and whatever remediation is necessary occurs as quickly as possible,” Reyes said in a statement. “We will continue to evaluate the legal issues as we receive data and monitor the effects on our communities.”

Reyes called it a “serious issue” that would require a lot of coordination with the governor’s office, state and federal agencies, counties, cities and others before any final decisions are made about legal action.


Kim Cofman and her daughters Acacia, 12, left, and Cayenne, 14, try to stir up sludge from the Gold King Mine that covers the bottom the Animas River on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015, in Durango, Colo. Photo: AP Photo

The Navajo Nation has already said it intends to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over the 3 million gallons of water laced with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals that poured into the Animas River last week. An EPA cleanup crew accidentally unleashed the spill with a backhoe at the abandoned Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado.

State officials said while there might not be any immediate impacts from the wastewater, they’re concerned about the long-term effects, including on fish in the San Juan River and Lake Powell.

Meantime, the yellow sludge had dissipated to the point that it wasn’t visible Tuesday in the muddy San Juan River or Lake Powell in southern Utah, according to state water managers.

Also, acidity readings in water samples taken from the river were holding steady in normally expected ranges, said Donna Spangler, Utah Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman.

“We’re going to assume that maybe it’s in there mixed around, but we really don’t have any evidence to say conclusively that it’s entered Utah,” Spangler said.

If the contaminated plume has arrived in Utah as predicted, the pH readings suggest that natural processes in the river have neutralized the plume’s acidity, according to Utah Division of Water Quality.

The state will continue to test the water, using samples taken the past few days as a baseline for comparison.

“The sediment will get mixed up. We don’t know what’s going to show up a few years from now,” Spangler said. “It’s going to have to take some ongoing monitoring.”

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources captured fish Tuesday where the San Juan River runs into Lake Powell to test them for metal levels before the plume arrives at the lake. The division also took water and soil samples from streambeds.

Aquatic managers are hoping to catch as many as 60 each of striped bass, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, catfish or any other sport fish an angler might encounter, said Drew Cushing, DWR sport fish coordinator. The division already routinely checks mercury levels in fish at Lake Powell.

Richard Hepworth, DWR aquatics manager in southern Utah, spent the day on the river and the lake collecting samples.

“There’s just a lot of unknown out there with what happened,” he said.


This just because we wanted to have a real good baseline of what things looked like before this potential hazardous made its way down to Lake Powell.

–Drew Cushing, Wildlife Resources sport fish coordinator

Hepworth said the “scary” thing from his standpoint is everyone upstream saying the contamination would flush through.

“And they’re right,” he said. “But it’s all going to hit Lake Powell and then it’s not going to go anywhere else.”

He estimated it would be at least two to three years before aquatics managers know if any of the chemicals get into the fish. If that were to happen, the state would issue a consumption advisory, which Hepworth said would take away fishing as management tool.

“If people can’t eat them, they’re not going to harvest them,” he said.

National Park Service officials said contaminated wastewater has not reached Lake Powell or the San Juan River within Glen Canyon.

“We have not received information from the EPA indicating that we need to modify our operations due to health concerns related to the quality of water heading toward our park,” Superintendent Todd Brindle said in a statement Tuesday.

There are currently no closures in effect on Lake Powell. Last week, the National Park Service advised people to avoid the San Juan River arm of the lake.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, issued a statement Tuesday saying he’s “highly concerned” about the spill’s effects on the water that agriculture, industry, recreation and municipalities depend on.

“Going forward, I will do everything in my power to ensure that the EPA cleans up this mess and ensures that mistakes such as this don’t happen again,” Hatch said.


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Dennis Romboy

July 16-19, 2015 NETROOTS Nation Black Mess on Black Mesa

Tomorrow we will be at Netroots Nation. Visit their website for more information!



July 13, 2015 – On Parched Navajo Reservation, ‘Water Lady’ Brings Liquid Gold – NYTimes

THOREAU, N.M. — The yellow truck slogged along the red-dirt roads in this impoverished corner of the Navajo reservation last week, its belly full of water — liquid gold in a treasure chest on wheels. The truck’s driver, Darlene Arviso, steered it patiently, up, down and around pockmarks chiseled on the ground by a recent downpour.

“So much rain, but a lot of people with no water,” she mumbled, angling toward the entrance of a mud-splashed hogan, the traditional Navajo hut that was the first stop on her delivery route that day.

Her job is simple: She brings clean water to people who have none of it at home. One-third of the roughly 50,000 households on the Navajo reservation face this problem, one of the highest concentrations of water-poor homes in the country. A multiyear drought has only made it worse… (Read more)

4/26/2012 & 4/27/2012 Photos of Forgotten People at meeting with Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, OHCHR

12/12/2011 Indian Country Today: UN's Declaration One-Year Anniversary: Much to Celebrate, Much More to Be Done:

12/12/2011 Indian Country Today: UN’s Declaration One-Year Anniversary: Much to Celebrate, Much More to Be Done: One year ago this month, the United States formally reversed its opposition to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). While some indigenous rights advocates say little has changed since then, others believe there is much to celebrate. That is because indigenous people are now working hard to make sure that declaration is implemented in all interactions with nation-states.

At the second White House Tribal Nations Conference, on December 16 of last year, President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. would “lend its support” to UNDRIP. “The aspirations it affirms, including the respect for the institutions and rich cultures of Native peoples, are ones we must always seek to fulfill,” Obama said. “I want to be clear: What matters far more than words, what matters far more than any resolution or declaration, are actions to match those words.”

Actions were precisely what Indigenous Peoples were looking for after Obama’s announcement. It took them more than 20 years to draft and negotiate the declaration, which provides a human rights framework for the world’s approximately 370 million Indigenous Peoples. The U.N. General Assembly adopted it on September 13, 2007, with 144 states in favor, four against (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the U.S.) and 11 abstaining.

Australia, New Zealand and Canada later endorsed the human rights declaration, leaving the U.S. as the last of the four to sign on. So when Obama made his historic announcement, Indian activists in North America shifted their focus from advocacy to implementation.

“There’s much to celebrate,” said Andrea Carmen, Pasqua Yaqui Tribe, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council (IITC), “but much more to be done.”

Indeed, a query to the White House about how the declaration would be implemented was referred to the State Department. Spokeswoman Tiffany Miller responded by e-mail that there is no simple answer. “As you know, the declaration has implications for many agencies across the U.S. government,” she said. “However, I can tell you that the Obama administration is committed to making U.S. support of the declaration meaningful.”

Carmen played an important role in the international forums that developed the declaration. Over the past year, she has led and participated in dozens of workshops and presentations before tribal governments and organizations. Her goal has been to educate Indigenous Peoples about the declaration, the better to use it as a tool in every interaction with federal, state and local governments.

“The recognition of rights is the basis for peace,” Carmen said. “The denial of rights is the cause of conflict. The interactions of the past—we can’t forget them because there’s redress and restitution, which is also included in the declaration. But the discussion can start on a new level based on recognition, upholding and defending the rights of Indigenous Peoples in this declaration that the U.S. is now a party to. It’s an amazing step forward.”

The declaration is beginning to be applied in both international and domestic settings. A good example took place last January during the continuing negotiations involved in the drafting of the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which is being created under the auspices of the Organization of American States.

“When there was a challenge to the proposed language, the chair said, ‘We need to fall back on the language in the U.N. declaration on this issue,’ ” Carmen recalled. “That may not sound like much, but it was the first time that happened. And previously the U.S. and Canada always opposed using the declaration as the minimum standard for the discussion on the American level. But they didn’t say a word in opposition this time—they couldn’t, because they support the declaration now.”

The declaration was instrumental in the U.S. in another important issue this year—namely, the protection of a sacred shell mound at Sogorea Te/Glen Cove, California. “There was a 109-day spiritual encampment at the site, so it was huge and it was special because it was the first time the Bay Area Indian community rallied around the declaration,” said Mark Anquoe, Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, IITC’s administrative and communications coordinator.

Not everyone working in the arena of indigenous rights has seen that kind of progress over the past year. Steven Newcomb, Shawnee/Lenape, a columnist for Indian Country Today Media Network and co-founder and co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute, believes the U.S. State Department distorted the declaration’s meaning of Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination and needs to rectify its error before progress can be made. He noted that Article 3 of the declaration reads, “Indigenous Peoples have the right to self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

But Newcomb said the State Department “did not tell the truth” about Article 3 in its 15-page white paper issued December 16, 2010. “In its statement, the State Department said it was ‘pleased to support the declaration’s call to promote the development of a new and distinct international concept of self-determination specific to Indigenous Peoples’ (emphasis added).

“The State Department expanded on this falsehood by saying that the ‘declaration’s call is to promote the development of a concept of self-determination for Indigenous Peoples that is different from the existing right of self-determination in international law.’ This is patently and blatantly false. This was never the understanding of the process that led to the adoption of Article 3 and its relationship to the international human right of self-determination found in the international human rights covenants. By its statements of bad faith—statements it has not disavowed in the past year—the United States destroyed the very basis for implementing the key provision in the U.N. declaration that Indigenous Peoples were working toward in their efforts to create positive reforms in the area of Indigenous Peoples’ human rights. This needs to be rectified as a first step in talking meaningfully about ‘implementing’ the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

In an interview with ICTMN, Michael Leroy Oberg, co-coordinator of Native American Studies at the State University of New York, Geneseo, and author of Native America: A History, is similarly concerned. He called Obama’s “lending of support” to the declaration a “nice gesture” but does not think it will turn out to be more than that. He feels there are still many problems associated with implementing UNDRIP, and they can be found in both the executive and judiciary branches.

“The meaning of ‘self-determination’ in the declaration, is much more literal than that which has developed in the United States over the past half century,” said Oberg, “and much less constrained by some of the long-standing and, I would argue, colonial assumptions built into American Indian policy.”

The courts, Oberg feels, have more power to enforce UNDRIP than does the White House. “The Supreme Court especially—and especially with regards to Indians in New York state—has placed significant limitations on tribal sovereignty and the rights of Native nations,” Oberg said. “Only an optimist of the most sunny sort would expect the declaration, I am afraid, to have any significant impact on the conduct of the judicial branch of the government.”

Read more:

11/19/2011 Navajo Times: Top doc Diné medical doctor hired to develop 10-year wellness plan

11/19/2011 Navajo Times: Top doc Diné medical doctor hired to develop 10-year wellness plan By Bill Donovan, Special to the Times: The Navajo Nation once again has a top doctor. Dr. Gayle Diné Chacon reported for duty as the medical adviser and chief medical officer to the Division of Health, where she will help the tribe develop long-term strategies to restore the people to good health. She will provide guidance to President Ben Shelly as he seeks to fulfill a campaign promise to develop a 10-year wellness plan to alleviate some of the most chronic problems on the reservation, including diabetes and alcoholism, and make everyone healthier.

Hers is a position that was held before by only one person – the late Dr. Taylor McKenzie.

McKenzie, the first Navajo to earn a medical degree, was appointed the tribe’s chief medical officer in 2006 and served in that capacity until his death on April 13, 2007. The position has been unfilled since then, primarily because the tribe was never able to find a Navajo physician willing to accept the job.

“I was offered the job several years ago,” said Chacon, but she was then serving as director of the Center for Native American Health, an organization she helped create at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. She is currently on sabbatical from that position.

Chacon is Todich’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for Kiyaa’aanii (Towering House Clan). Her chei is Tachii’nii (Red Running into Water Clan) and her paternal grandfather’s clan is Kinlichii’nii (Red House).

Born and raised in Chinle, she knew from an early age that she wanted to do something with science, inspired by a book her father, Frank Dinéyazhe, brought home when she was 5 or 6 years old.

Her father, who is now retired, worked for the BIA and one of his duties was to burn discarded equipment. But when the load contained books, she said, he couldn’t bring himself to burn them so he would bring them home for his children to read.

11/17/2011 Indian Country Today: Growing Native American Student Base at Yale Prompts More Space

11/17/2011 Indian Country Today: Growing Native American Student Base at Yale Prompts More Space By ICTMN Staff: Next fall the Native American Cultural Center (NACC) at Yale University will get its own house, instead of sharing space with the Asian American Cultural Center, like it currently does.This move is to help NACC increase its presence on campus and to give the largest Native American class ever—roughly 40 students—at Yale space of their own.

Having its own space puts NACC on par with the other cultural centers on campus. “It’s a matter of equity—the Native American community has long been the only cultural center without its own distinct space,” said Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, Tuscarora, a professor of history and American studies and member of the NACC Advisory Board. “Having autonomy over this new space will have an extraordinary impact on the development of the NACC. As everyone who has ever lived with a roommate knows, it’s hard to share space.”

Having a place of their own is important to many who have left their tribal homes behind to pursue higher education.

“I come from a very distinct background,” Chris Brown, Navajo, Class of ’15, told Christopher Peak, of Yale Daily News. “It’s complete sand and desert, painted valleys and rock walls. I live on a table-top mesa. Coming here is very different.”

Having a place to celebrate his heritage will help him on his way to academic success.

Read more

Yale Dean Mary Miller feels the new space will contribute to that, saying “strong cultural houses with robust programs contribute to and support academic success.”

Ned Blackhawk, Western Shoshone, a professor of history and American studies and member of the NACC Advisory Board, thinks the new house will enable NACC to expand its outreach and ability to hold events.

“Ideally, the new, expanded NACC can enrich Native American as well as other Yale students’ experiences through expanded outreach efforts to local, national and indeed global indigenous communities,” he said. He also hopes to add programs that can connect NACC alumni with current students.

The new center may also help to attract Native students to Yale, something the school has struggled with in the past. The school now has two Native outreach coordinators in the admissions office, and Yale uses College Horizons—a summer camp where Native students get help on writing college applications—as a way to recruit.

This is far better than recruitment efforts of the late 1980s, which had 1993 graduate John Bathke spending his freshman year spring break driving across the Navajo Nation Reservation—an area that spans three states—in his aunt’s truck.

“Yale didn’t really recruit Indians [at the time],” Bathke, founder of Association for Native American Students at Yale (ANAAY) and a student recruitment coordinator during his time at Yale, told Peak. “The only Indians that came were happenstance, ones that fell into the system.”

Native American students at Yale are looking forward to a bigger NACC presence on campus because many say other students don’t realize they are there.

“Most people don’t know we exist cause we don’t have a specific color of our skin,” Amanda Tjemsland, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe ANAAY president, told Peak.

“Since I’m not full blood, I don’t look Choctaw,” said Chelsea Wells. “People had never heard of the Choctaw Nation, so I had to explain my whole background again and again. Then my mom came, who looks very Native, and people were very confused.”

To read the history of Yale’s and New Haven, Connecticut’s relationship with Native populations, visit

11/17/2011 Navajo Times: From cactus to ivy – Diné Yalies face rigorous academics with vigor

11/17/2011 Navajo Times: From cactus to ivy – Diné Yalies face rigorous academics with vigor By Cindy Yurth, Tséyi’ Bureau: NEW HAVEN, Conn.: Forget every stereotype you ever had about Yale University. Especially the “Yale man.” “Tall, white, muscular, and wearing a cardigan vest,” grinned Christian Brown, ticking off the attributes he associated with Yale students – before he became one. Actually, aside from being a different color, Brown is not too far off the mark. He is medium height and broad-shouldered, and last Saturday, he happened to be wearing a sweater vest. But it was a special occasion. He and the other Diné students at Yale were assigned to take the visiting Navajo Nation Supreme Court justices out to dinner at one of the best restaurants in New Haven – on the university’s tab.

“Not something that would happen at your typical state university,” declared the dapper freshman, who is Kinyaa’aanii (Towering House Clan), born for bilagaana.

Dinée Dorame, Tabaaha (Edge Water Clan), born for Naakaii Diné’e (Mexican People Clan), was sporting a Yale T-shirt and shorts. She had just come from working out at one of the campus’s many gyms, having blown off a club basketball game in favor of meeting the justices.

“Yeah, I’m a jock,” she confessed. “You can be a jock at Yale, too.”

Right at home

Far from their hometowns of Phoenix and Albuquerque, and two of only six Navajo students at Yale, you might expect the two freshmen to be at least a little freaked out. But they seem right at home. And they are interrupting each other in their zeal to sing the praises of their new alma mater.

8/11/2011 Water for People: One Year Anniversary: Water Declared Human Right

8/11/2011 Water for People: One Year Anniversary: Water Declared Human Right: As the United Nations celebrates the one year anniversary (August 3, 2011) of their declaration of water as a basic human right, the debate continues over what exactly that phrase means. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon triggered controversy with this statement: “Let us be clear,” he asserted, “a right to water and sanitation does not mean that water should be free.” The key, he continued, is to make water affordable and available, but not to remove the market entirely.

If the rich pay less per unit of water than the poor, this is a violation of the poor’s human right to water. If water is used to fill swimming pools to the extent that it is no longer available, or the cost increases too high, for the poor to have access, this is a violation of their human right to water. But, declaring water a human right does not declare it cost-free.

Thalif Deen’s article marking the 1 year anniversary provides a clear overview of the debate between the need for increased water access for the poor, and the benefits and challenges of continuing water privatization. Access it here.

One year ago, following the UN declaration, CEO of Water For People Ned Breslin spoke with Rachel Cernansky of Planet to answer the question: What does making water a basic human right mean in practicality? In response to whether or not making water free will guarantee the right Mr. Breslin replied:

“The concept of free access to water undermines issues of sustainability. ‘Rights will only be realized if the delivery of water is sustained over time. Otherwise it’s a meaningless right,’ Breslin said, adding that the world’s experience with free water has been disastrous because pipes erode, systems break down, and no one is there to fix them. Whether there will or should be a cap on costs for citizens in developing countries (or anywhere) is a question that has to be worked out, but generally speaking, costs have to be ‘linked’ to the technologies that are supplying the water.”
Read the full article with more analysis from Water For People here.