Breaking News: Western Shoshone, Black Mesa and Crow Creek

By Brenda Norrell of Censored News.

Today, Western Shoshone prevailed in the Ninth Circuit, in their effort to protect sacred Mount Tenabo from gold mining in Nevada and the US EPA withdrew a controversial permit allowing Peabody Coal to dump pollutants into Navajo and Hopi waterways in Arizona.

However, there was no good news for the Crow Creek Sioux, one of the nation’s most economically desperate people. In a brutal attack, the IRS auctioned off 7,100 acres of their lands to pay back taxes in central South Dakota.

Crow Creek sent out an appeal for help. “Please Help Crow Creek Sioux Tribe. We are setting up Tipi’s and Having Han Blece’Yapi on the land.”

Since the land was earlier partitioned and sold by individual members, then bought back by the Crow Creek Nation, it was not in trust status at the time. However, Crow Creek has 180 days to buy back its land, which was sold at a portion of its value.

Meanwhile, Western Shoshone are celebrating a victory, following the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court to rule in favor of protecting Mount Tenabo from Barrick Gold Corporation’s mining on the sacred mountain.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claims that the Bureau of Land Management violated the National Environmental Policy Act in failing to properly analyze the environmental impacts from the mine on groundwater, air quality, and other resources.

“Suspending a project until that consideration has occurred thus comports with the public interest,” the court stated.

Carrie Dann, a world renowned Western Shoshone grandmother, and recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “alternative Nobel Peace Prize,” has been among those to lead the fight to protect Mount Tenabo from mining for over 15 years.

“Mount Tenabo should be left alone — no further disturbance. This mine will drain the water from Mount Tenabo. They will be sucking the water out of the mountain forever. The destruction of the water is like the destruction of the blood of the earth; you are destroying life of the earth and the people and wildlife that depend on it. Dewatering is taking the life of future generations. Water is sacred, all life depends on it,” Dann said.

Navajos and Hopis are celebrating a separate victory, following the US EPA’s withdrawl of a permit for Peabody Coal mining operations on Black Mesa.

“EPA is to be commended for doing the right thing in this instance and withdrawing the inadequate water permit for Black Mesa,” said Wahleah Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. “Our community was shut out of the permitting process and our requests for public hearings on the permit denied. If a new permit is issued, the agency must ensure that impacted communities are meaningfully involved in environmental decision-making.”

EPA’s permit withdrawal means that discharges of heavy metal and pollutants — including selenium, nitrates, and other heavy metals and toxic pollutants from coal-mining operations at the Black Mesa Complex — are threatening washes, tributaries, groundwater, and the drinking water for local communities, but are not being regulated, according to the organizations challenging the permit approval.

Nicole Horseherder of TO’ Nizhoni Ani (Navajo for Beautiful Water Speaks), who lives 20 miles south of the Black Mesa Complex, said, “I am very happy about the EPA’s decision to withdraw the permit. I am glad to see a federal regulatory agency finally doing its job. In the course of our struggle to protect the water and bring awareness to the impacts of this coal-mining operation, we have never had such a favorable decision by any agency charged with regulating the impacts of Black Mesa.”

Anna Frazier of Dine CARE said, “EPA’s recent Notice of Withdrawal of Permit is further evidence of Peabody Coal Company’s illegal coal mining operation on Black Mesa that is not only destroying the land which is the living flesh of our Mother Earth but is now polluting – with an expired discharge permit – the region’s natural water system which are, in real physical and spiritual terms, the lifeblood and veins of our female mountain.”

In South Dakota, the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday auctioned off Crow Creek land to help pay off more than $3 million in back taxes, penalties and interest – a sale the tribe says is illegal under federal laws protecting Indian land.

“We haven’t given up, the Tribe has 180 days yet and Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and I and our pro bono attorney are still working on this. Starting Monday we are setting up Tipi’s and having Han Blece’Yapi on the land. It is bitterly cold here with snow flurries. It is prime land overlooking the Missouri, the Tribe wanted to use for wind energy. It was not held in trust, but fee land. The Sioux Tribes are supporting Crow Creek,” one Crow Creek member wrote.

“It is time to make a stand once and for all! Make a statement that our land never will be for sale!”

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Posted on December 4, 2009, in Ecological Struggles, Indigenous Struggles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Breaking News: Western Shoshone, Black Mesa and Crow Creek.

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