Category Archives: Water And Sanitation

6/18/2011 Peoples Movements Assembly: Supai Guardians of Grand Canyon

Saturday, June 18, 2011 Peoples Movements Assembly: Supai Guardians of Grand Canyon: The Southwest organizing tour of the peoples’ Movements Assembly (part of the US Social Forum II), organized by Southwest Workers Union from San Antonio, Texas visited Havasupai Tribe at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the South rim. Supai village has been at the present site since getting removed from the North rim due to Roosevelt making it a National Park and have been ‘Guardians of the Grand Canyon” since before the ice age. The Supai village lives off the waters of the creek that is the lifeline of the Havasupai. Yet the creek and the purity of the water is threatened by uranium mining. The uranium trailings contaminate the water. We visited Carletta Tilousi, council member for the tribe, and Edmund Tilousi, vice chairman of the tribal council. The educated us about the issues and challenges facing the people who have lived at the canyon for tens of thousands of years, because of development, tourism, the national park and mining. The tribal government is in charge of health,solid waste, water, housing, education, community economic development and works with q 12 millions dollar budget.

Ruben Solis Garcia, Reynaldo Padilla Teruel, & Nicole Soto Rodriguez presented at the Community meeting between the tribal government and the community residents. Solis connected the uranium issue facing the Havasupai Tribe and the uranium mining in South Texas and the contamination of drinking water.

The SW PMA tour team hiked 8 miles down thw grand canyon to reach the supai village, but we joined Carletta Tilousi in the helicopter on the way out of the Grand Canyon. We said goodbye to Supai Village but we all said “we will be back.”

Native American Justice Struggle, Peoples Movements Asembly Tour
(Interviews with IEN’s Jihan Gearon and Wahelah Johns of Black Mesa Water Coalition.)

Havasupai: Peoples Movements Assembly SW Organizing Tour:
Posted by at 10:03 AM

5/14/2011 US EPA Superfund meeting

It is almost time for Saturday, 5/14 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) meeting at Moenkopi Legacy Inn to discuss the status of abandoned uranium mine screenings in the western agency of the Navajo Nation and safe drinking water issues.

5/4/2011 – 306,000 Comments submitted today in support of 1-million-acre protection of the Grand Canyon

5/4/2011 – Forgotten People just learned, a total of 306,000 comments were submitted in support of Alternative B (full 1-million-acre protection), which is nothing short of historic. Great work Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club and the People!
Grand Canyon Uranium Mining PSA
Please take action by May 4th to protect the Grand Canyon! Narrated by Craig Childs and directed by James Q Martin, this short video makes a compelling case for the Obama administration’s proposal to protect 1 million acres of public land surrounding…,

Save the Grand Canyon from uranium mining
Posted on April 30, 2011 by forgottenpeople

Uranium mining rips up huge tracts of land to extract radioactive material for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.1 For the past two years, the Grand Canyon has been protected from these ravages. But now, the temporary mining moratorium is set to expire. The Grand Canyon’s fragile ecosystem, stunning beauty, and vital water supply are threatened by 1,100 new mining claims that have been filed within five miles of this priceless “crown jewel.” The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is considering a 20-year ban on mining to protect the Grand Canyon’s entire one-million acre watershed. But there are other proposals on the table, and industry lobbyists are encouraging BLM to open the floodgates for the uranium mining rush. It’s essential that we urge the BLM to protect the Grand Canyon.

Tell the Bureau of Land Management: Ban uranium mining at the Grand Canyon. Submit a public comment now. The high price of uranium makes its extraction extremely lucrative for mining companies, but shockingly, the practice is regulated by the antiquated 1872 Mining Law which has no environmental standards to limit the devastation and radioactive damage that results to wildlife, soil, ground and surface water. In fact, the law actually makes exploitative mining a priority over all other uses of public lands. The legacy of mining in the Grand Canyon and has already wrought lasting damage to surrounding areas and tribal communities, who have banned mining on all their lands…. Read More

4/28/2011Gallup Independent: Monestersky nominated to national advisory council

Monestersky nominated to national advisory council By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau, Gallup Independent, 4/28/2011: WINDOW ROCK – Marsha Monestersky, program manager for the Forgotten People, has been nominated to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council to represent the Southwest region. Monestersky was notified April 11 that she is among the nominees to fill five vacancies on the national council. The positions must be filled before May and the advisory council is now carrying out the steps associated with an extensive clearance process so the materials can be presented to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for approval. “I am thankful and blessed that the U.S. EPA and the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water nominated me to serve on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council and appreciates my interest and willingness to commit time and effort to ensure that the nation’s drinking water is safe,” Monestersky said.

“Safe drinking water is the most precious resource of all, more precious than gold. Access to safe drinking water is a human right. Scarce water supplies in the western United States and climate change will worsen. We need to take action to plan.”

The advisory council includes five members from state and local agencies concerned with drinking water; five members from interest groups concerned with drinking water; and five members from the general public. In addition, two of the 15 members on the council represent small drinking water systems.

Over the past two decades Monestersky has worked on a wide range of environmental issues confronting the Dine people living within the western portion of the Navajo Nation. Much of her work has involved efforts to improve access to safe drinking water for residents in the Bennett Freeze area, especially in the vicinity of Black Falls, Box Springs and Grand Falls where residents have been drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water from livestock watering points.

In February 2009, Forgotten People completed a U.S. EPA Environmental Justice Small Grant to provide safe drinking water to Black Falls residents. The project was expanded using additional private donations to include storage and distribution systems for 10 homes. They also created a community water-hauling service and worked with EPA and Indian Health Service to design and construct bathrooms and sanitation systems for the homes.

Through the efforts of Monestersky and the Forgotten People, the Navajo Nation issued a historic Public Health State of Emergency in January 2009 for residents of the northwestern Leupp and southeastern Cameron chapters. With money provided by U.S. EPA, Navajo Water Resources purchased five water-hauling trucks and after two years of delay, delivered the first truckload of safe drinking water to residents from the Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls area on April 8.

“The success we have achieved in the Black Falls region for water haulers demonstrates the power of collaborative partnerships with academic institutions, tribal and federal agencies, pastors and faith-based groups,” Monestersky said. “As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under the Obama administration I have witnessed U.S. EPA bring science and protection back to this agency and hope to contribute to the work of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council.”

Norris Nez, a Navajo medicine man, sent a letter of support to EPA on Monestersky’s behalf, saying he views her as a competent and responsible woman with wisdom and understanding of life. “I feel that she is capable and understands what the issues are and the needs and concerns of the people in our region and throughout the planet.”

Clancy Tenley, assistant director of EPA’s Superfund program, told Monestersky in March, “We appreciate the partnership of our organizations which has resulted in significant progress in recent years.” Between Forgotten People, U.S. and Navajo EPA, Navajo Department of Water Resources, Indian Health Service and others, “more has been done to address critical water issues in this region (Black Falls) than any place I know. Of course, more needs to be done.”

James W. Zion of Albuquerque, attorney for the Forgotten People, also recommended Monestersky to EPA. “I cannot think of anyone who can better give the advisory council relevant information on the needs of Indian Country or the application of emerging international norms on the right to water,” he said.

4/22/2011 C News: Natives asked for toilets, got pails By Paull Turenne, QMI Agency

4/22/2011 C News: Natives asked for toilets, got pails By Paull Turenne, QMI Agency WINNIPEG – They asked for bathrooms, or at least portable toilets, and they got five-gallon pails. Chiefs representing First Nations from the Island Lake area of northern Manitoba held a news conference Thursday to lament Ottawa’s response to immediate, short-term help while they discuss how to hook the communities up with running water and proper sewage in the long term. “They agreed to help us with short-term solutions. Their solutions are slop pails and 45-gallon drums. That’s not acceptable,” said Chief Dino Flett, of the Garden Hill First Nation. “In some houses, 15 people have to use that slop pail. That’s not safe. That’s not healthy.”

Chiefs from the Island Lake area bands met with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada last December to discuss ways of addressing the lack of water and sewage infrastructure in their remote communities. Among the chiefs’ immediate solutions were plans for porta-potty style biffies with holding tanks that could be emptied, or alternatively centralized, communal washrooms, showers and laundry facilities.

What INAC sent was 999 slop pails — five-gallon pails meant to be makeshift indoor toilets — as well as about 800 water barrels, and a water and sewage truck for each community, although with no permanent provision for maintenance, operating costs or fuel for the trucks.

Jeff Solmundson, a spokesman for INAC, said the chiefs agreed to that solution in their December meetings. “The trucks and the pails, that was what we could do most immediately. The chiefs agreed to this in meetings,” he said. “I want to stress that we’re still working with them on long-term solutions.”

Chief David McDougall of the St. Theresa Point First Nation said the chiefs also proposed that Ottawa spend $250,000 to audit the current housing and infrastructure needs in the communities in order to provide an up-to-date basis for a long-term plan.

He said that request has yet to be answered.

“We can’t even get out of the starting blocks,” McDougall said. “We’re handicapped by a lack of knowledge.”
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4/9-4/10/2011 Gallup Independent: More than $3.5M missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land commission wants NHLC books audited

4/9-4/10/2011 Gallup Independent article: More than $3.5M missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land commission wants NHLC books audited By Shelley Smithson For the Independent  Please check out a scanned copy of the 4/8-4/10/2011, weekend edition of the Gallup Independent: More than 3.5 million missing 4 9 2011 More Than 3.5 Million Missing? Forgotten People sue for accounting, Land Commission wants N

TUBA CITY — Officials at the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office do not know how much money is in a federal trust fund intended to help victims of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute.   Forgotten People, a grassroots advocacy group, is suing the tribal office, asking for an explanation of how the agency spent nearly $26 million. Although Congress authorized $60 million for the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund, only $16.2 million was actually appropriated between 1990 and 1995; another $9.7 million was earned in interest, according to a 2010 Land Commission Office report. Denise Almeida going into her small trailer that serves as their home in the Bennett Freeze on the outskirts of Tuba City, AZ in this Nov. 27, 2009, file photo

According to the report and interviews with Land Commission Office officials, about $22.4 million was spent between 1990 and 2010. That should put the balance in the trust fund account at $3.5 million. However, the most recent figures provided to the Land Commission Office by the Navajo controller’s office says the fund is in the red by more       than $206,000.

“I don’t agree with that,” Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office Deputy Director Thomas Benally said. His records indicate there should be a total of $2.9 million in the trust fund, he said.

Land Commission Office Director Raymond Maxx said the office has not regularly provided financial information to the Navajo Hopi Land Commission. The Commission is composed of Tribal Council delegates who are charged with overseeing the Land Commission Office and with deciding how federal funds will be spent.

In addition, Maxx said some of the trust fund money was co-mingled with general fund accounts. The Land Commission Office is trying to recoup the money, he said.

“We are not getting consistent numbers from the controller’s office,” Maxx said. “This office will start keeping track of our own numbers rather than relying on other offices.

This confusion has been going on for a long time.”

Navajo Controller Mark Grant did not return a call seeking comment. Maxx, who began the director job in late January, said he has asked the Navajo Office of the Auditor General to audit the Land Commission Office.

“We want to be more transparent,” Maxx said. He said the office is working to reconcile two decades of accounting records in response to the lawsuit, which was filed last August.

Marsha Monestersky, program director for Forgotten People, said an accounting lawsuit should not be necessary to find out how money has been spent and how much money remains in the trust fund.

“There is a continuing history of mismanagement and a lack of accountability to the people,” she said of the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office. “In the outside world, if any agency did that, there would be heads that roll. The standard shouldn’t be less (for Navajo government), especially when the rehabilitation trust fund is using federal money.”

Benally said he believes there is about $650,000 in the trust fund account that is earmarked for land purchases and another $1.3 to $1.5 million is in an interest-bearing account for future projects. He said he believes another $800,000 remains in an account to repair homes in the Hopi Partitioned Lands in Arizona. The money was never spent because the Commission did not go through the proper process for approving the money in 2005, he said.

The 2010 report prepared for the Tribal Council’s Government Services Committee states that $16 million from the fund was allocated between 1990 and 2009.  Most of the money was spent on home repairs and community construction projects in the western part of the reservation.

Benally said another $6.3 million was used to buy property with economic development potential, including a $3.7 million loan to the Navajo Gaming Enterprise to buy property on Interstate Highway 40 east of Flagstaff, Ariz., for a casino.

Forgotten People objects to trust-fund money being used for the planned Twin Arrows Casino, even though some families affected by the land dispute will benefit from casino lease and loan payments during the next 75 years. Opponents say the trust fund money should be used to improve desperate living conditions now.

Congress created the trust fund in 1988 to aid families impacted by the land dispute.

In addition to helping those Navajo families who were forced to move from Hopi land in Arizona, the trust fund also was supposed to help those living in nearby communities where construction restrictions were imposed because of lawsuits that dragged on for 40 years.

Thousands of people living in the western part of the reservation still do not have electricity or indoor plumbing as a result of the land dispute, and many water sources are contaminated with uranium.

In January, a Navajo tribal judge gave the Land Commission Office and the Forgotten People until April 8 to resolve the matter through mediation. Jim Zion, attorney for Forgotten People, said he has agreed to a one-month extension to give the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office more time to reconcile its accounting.

How much money was actually distributed, and to whom, is still unclear, Benally said. “The record keeping wasn’t the greatest back then,” he said.

Asked whether the figures presented in the 2010 report were accurate, Benally said the report was “accurate with what we had at the time.”

Monestersky, whose organization advocates for people affected by the land dispute, said she was unaware of the Land Commission report until the Gallup Independent forwarded the document to her organization in March. The Independent requested the report from the federal Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation in Flagstaff. That office  oversees the relocation of families forced to move from Hopi and Navajo land.

According to the report, nearly $1 million from the trust fund was spent on planning consultants, lobbyists and administrative office space, furniture and equipment.

About $6 million, or 37 percent of total expenditures, went to communities in Navajo Partitioned Land. That is the part of the disputed area that was partitioned for Navajos after Congress passed the 1974 settlement act.

Another $3.2 million, or 20 percent, went to communities in Hopi Partitioned Land, where some Navajos have remained either illegally or through accommodation agreements with the Hopi tribe. Nearly all of that money was earmarked between 1998 and 2009 to build 48 homes that were later deemed substandard.

A Navajo auditor general report blamed the Navajo Housing Services Department for shoddy workmanship and the Navajo Hopi Land Commission for failing to correct deficiencies. Even though the auditor general sanctioned the Land Commission Office in 2005 for its failure to finish constructing homes in the HPL, 14 homes still are incomplete. Monestersky said she knows of at least seven families who were promised homes that were never built.

About $1 million was spent in new communities near Sanders, Ariz., which were established for refugees forced to leave Hopi land. Though the federal government built homes for people who relocated to the new lands, residents say promised services were never delivered.

According to the report, nearly $5 million went to communities in the former Bennett Freeze area, about 1.5 million acres spanning from Tuba City to northeast of Flagstaff. Development in that area was stymied by litigation with the Hopis until 2006 when a compact was officially adopted. The money funded home repairs and community buildings such as senior centers.

“They funded things like Head Start, which is a federally funded program, and has nothing to do with rehabilitation,” Monestersky said. “I don’t see how a Head Start building or a senior center qualifies for rehabilitation money when you have people freezing to death (because of inadequate housing.)”

She said many of the expenditures that were categorized as being in the Bennett Freeze actually occurred in other areas. She said she was frustrated by the lack of specific information in the report, especially concerning who received assistance. She contends that some who have received money did not need it, or did not even live in the affected area.

“There is not a drop of water for people to drink in the HPL. People in the Bennett Freeze are drinking uranium-contaminated water,” Monestersky said. “The wisest investment they could make is to hire development planners who can plan for infrastructure and prioritize needs.”

The trust fund money was never allocated according to need, Monestersky said. “They don’t have any prioritization of needs, for handicapped, for disabled, for people with major health conditions, elderly, people who are homeless,” she said. “That means the friends and relatives and people who yell the loudest get the money, and then the money is gone.”

Navajo Hopi Land Commission has spent more than $6 million to buy land with economic-development potential

• Congress appropriated $16.2 million for the Navajo Rehabilitation Trust Fund to improve the “economic, educational and social condition” of Navajo families and communities affected by the Navajo-Hopi land dispute. Amendments to the 1974 Navajo Hopi Settlement Act allowed the Navajo Nation to buy up to 150,000 acres of private land within 18 miles of the reservation.

•  The Land Commission loaned  $3.7 million to the Navajo Gaming Enterprise to buy land on I-40 near Flagstaff, Ariz., for a casino.

•  The trust fund also was used to buy 36 acres on Paseo del Vulcan, a thoroughfare between Albuquerque and the Canoncito Navajo Indian Reservation for $1.8 million.

•  The tribe also 13 acres in Sanders near I-40 and 1,599 acres north of Winslow., at Rincon Ranch, which might become a gravel pit, said Thomas Benally, deputy director of the Navajo Hopi Land Commission Office

•  Lease and loan payments from the Twin Arrows Casino will benefit families who lived on Hopi land in 1974, whether they have moved or not, said Land Commission Office Director Raymond Maxx.

•  Congress established the trust fund with the intention that the Navajo Nation would repay it from coal revenues generated in New Mexico.

—Shelley Smithson

4/3/2011 AZ Daily Sun articles about Stella Peshlakai, Wupatki National Park

Please check out Sunday, 4/3/2011 AZ Daily Sun articles about Stella Peshlakai, lone holdout living in Wupatki National Park resisting relocation, civil, human rights violations and elderly abuse at the hands of Wupatki National Park Rangers. 4 3 2011 Stella Peshlakai Wuptaki Series

4 3 2011 Stella Peshlakai Wuptaki

US discriminates on right to safe water and sanitation, says UN expert

Please check out the links to the United Nations Independent Expert Report on the situation of human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation in the U.S.: US discriminates on right to safe water and sanitation, says UN expert Dated: March 4, 2011 and Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Independent Expert on the right to water and sanitation: Mission to the United States of America from 22 February to 4 March 2011

Dated: March 4, 2011


Forgotten People’s report to UN Independent Expert on the human rights to safe water and sanitation

Dated: March 1, 2011

Navajo Forgotten People to United Nations: Right to Safe Drinking Water

Navajo Forgotten People to United Nations: Right to Safe Drinking Water submitted to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights 3/1/2011 CENSORED NEWS: Navajo Forgotten People to United Nations: Right to Safe Drinking Water Please clink on the link:

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Grand Canyon National Park needs your help

Grand Canyon National Park needs your help

Public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon are ground zero for a new uranium mining boom. Foreign uranium corporations have staked thousands of new mining claims, have re-opened one old mine, and are trying to open three more.

Uranium mining threatens to industrialize iconic wildlands surrounding the Grand Canyon with dozens of new mines, damage wildlife habitat, and pollute and deplete aquifers feeding the Grand Canyon’s biologically critical seeps, springs and caves.

The Obama administration is now analyzing a 20-year “mineral withdrawal” that would protect up to 1 million acres of the canyon’s watershed from new mining claims and prohibit new mines on most existing claims.

We need your help urging protection for the Grand Canyon’s entire 1-million-acre watershed, not just part of it. Please send an email to the administration and, if you’re in Arizona or Utah, attend a public meeting. Tell them that uranium mining near Grand Canyon just isn’t worth the risk.

Visit this site to take action now.