Archive for August, 2011

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White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Visits SFCC Sustainable Technologies Center

Santa Fe Community College President Sheila Ortego, SFCC Board Chair Linda Siegle and Dean of Economic and Workforce Development Randy Grissom last month welcomed President Obama’s principal environmental policy advisor, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, to the SFCC’s new green, LEED-registered Trades and Advanced Technology Center.

Sutley toured the facility with representatives from Sen. Bingaman’s, Rep. Lujan’s and Sen. Udall’s offices, along with students from the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps and local leaders to discuss the work of the Sustainable Technologies Center and how its success can be replicated across the nation.

Chair Sutley was More >

Settlement Claims Filing Period Opens for Native American Farmers and Ranchers

Farmers and ranchers who believe they are entitled to funds or loan forgiveness under the Keepseagle settlement must file a claim by December 27. Keepseagle v. Vilsack was a lawsuit alleging that USDA discriminated against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program. The lawsuit was settled late last year and has been approved by the court.

Farmers or ranchers must submit a completed claims package if they wish to participate in the claims process. Keepseagle class counsel is holding a number of meetings in the coming months throughout Indian Country to provide assistance to More >

Dancing Earth: Contemporary Indigenous Dance – August 19

Dancing Earth, an indigenous contemporary dance ensemble choreographed by Rulan Tangen, featuring locally based professional Native American and nationally recruited dancers, is presenting “Of Bodies of Elements” at the James A. Little Theater, 8 pm on August 19. The production explores ancient indigenous themes of the relationship of humanity with nature, integrating mythic narrative into contemporary relevance. Performers morph from humans into constellations, gardens of plants, winged insects and animals with impressive physicality. An aerial dance in a suspended hoop is one of the highlights. This innovative production won the 2010 Expressive Arts Award of the National Museum of American More >

Cycles for Life

This month, ten students from the Native American Community Academy Conservation Corps are taking an innovative summer service-learning program that addresses the mind, body, and spirit through bicycling, gardening and art. “Cycles of Life” is retracing the Trail of the Ancients from Zuni to Taos Pueblo. The trip offers an indigenous, holistic way of viewing our world that reconnects the riders to their ancestors and the land. The youth have built and customized their own bicycles for their “Journey on the Healing Path.” For more info, visit tripsforkidsriogrande.org or email hforeman@unm.edu.

Groups File Appeal of NM Building Codes Repeal

A home builder, two small business, two energy efficiency advocacy groups and several individuals have filed an appeal asking the New Mexico Court of Appeals to reverse the June 10th decision by the State Construction Industries Commission and Construction Industries Division to repeal the energy conservation building code and other related codes adopted in December, 2010. The appeals were filed by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) for Environment New Mexico, Southwest Energy Efficiency Project, Sundancer Creations Custom Builders, LLC, eSolved, Inc., and several individuals who supported the adoption of the codes.

“The action of the Construction Industries Commission and More >

Bolivia Gives the Natural World Equal Rights

Bolivia has passed the world’s first laws granting all of nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, agreed upon by politicians and grassroots cultural groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to new conservation and social legislation to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country is establishing 11 new rights for nature. They are: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; More >

New Energy Economy Wins Party Status in Industry Appeal – Advocates Will Defend Carbon Pollution Reduction Law

On July 27, the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), led by Staff Attorney Bruce Fredrick, gained another victory in the New Mexico Supreme Court when it won the right for its client, New Energy Economy (NEE), to intervene as a full party in Public Service Company of New Mexico’s appeal of the statewide carbon rules.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court Justices announced that because NEE was named as a party in the previous proceedings with the EIB, it has a right to be granted party status in the current appeal. Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels asked opposing counsel More >

Tribes vs. Solar Development Zones

In some areas, Native Americans are clashing with the federal government over plans for construction of massive solar energy projects and transmission lines in the West. The Indians fear that some of the projects will harm sacred and culturally significant sites in Western deserts. Lawsuits by two Native groups have posed a threat to half a dozen projects and halted work on a major solar farm in Southern California. Some of the 56,000 acres proposed for fast-track solar projects in California are near abandoned villages, petroglyphs and other cultural landmarks. A number of tribes in the Colorado River area have More >

New Mexico Indian Tourism Alliance Forming

Last month the American Indian and Alaska Native Tourism Association met with the newly appointed NM Secretary of Tourism, Monique Jacobson at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center to discuss Indian tourism initiatives. Jacobson acknowledged that Indian tourism ranks among the top reasons why visitors think of NM. She said that most visitors want a more immersive experience where they “sight-do” rather than “sight-see.”

The tribes discussed future creative collaborations, products and opportunities, and decided to form an alliance that will allow them to work more closely together. The group will be meeting quarterly.

Solar Phones in Remote Navajo Lands

The Albuquerque-based Native-owned company, Sacred Wind Communications (SWC), has added solar-powered phone service to its product line. The system has been installed in a rural area of the Navajo Nation. A news release says it is the first company in New Mexico to offer this service to people without electricity in their homes.

Solar Wind’s solar technology installed for phone service provides 7 amps and 20 volts of power with a battery that holds a charge for seven days. The company is working on expanding to include broadband service.

SWC has been on a mission to improve the Navajo Nation by connecting More >

Native Newsbites

Diné Group Files Suit Against NM Environment Dept.

On July 15, the Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM), represented by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against the NM Environment Department with the First Judicial Court in Santa Fe. The filing states that the Environment Dept. has bypassed normal regulatory processes to benefit Hydro Resources Inc. (HRI) by allowing HRI to conduct mining activities before it made a decision on HRI’s discharge permit application.

HRI, a subsidiary of Texas-based Uranium Resources, Inc., proposes to mine uranium in the communities of Church Rock More >

Luján Announces $300,000 for EPA Job Training at SFCC

On July 20, New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Luján announced that Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) has received $300,000 from the EPA. The Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grant will fund the promotion of green jobs in Santa Fe by targeting unemployed veterans and Native Americans to prepare them for jobs revitalizing brownfield properties and redeveloping economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

SFCC will work with the Jaynes Corporation, NM Veterans Administration, eight Northern Indian Pueblos, and local employers to facilitate job placement after providing 180 hours of training in solid waste management, energy efficiency technologies, and renewable energy preparation and installation. Training More >

Navajos Seek Shift to Renewables

A growing movement among Navajos embraces environmental restoration and a greater reliance on a more diversified economy that includes solar farms, ecotourism and small businesses rather than relying on coal.

Unemployment on the reservation is estimated at 50 to 60 percent. Coalmines and coal-fired power plants currently provide about 1,500 jobs and more than a third of the tribe’s annual operating budget. The Navajo Nation’s income from coal is down 15-20 percent in recent years as federal and state pollution regulations have imposed costly emissions restrictions and lessened the demand for mining.

The EPA singled out the Four Corners coal plant and More >

Joel Salatin Presentation as part of the “Carbon Series”

Joel Salatin will speak in Santa Fe food security, local organic food production, humane treatment of animals and the importance of transparency in food production.

Salatin’s family farm, Polyface Inc. (“The Farm of Many Faces”) has been featured in Smithsonian Magazine, National Geographic, and Gourmet. The farm’s profile on the Lives of the 21st Century series on ABC World News generated more chat room hits than any other segment to date. The farm also achieved iconic status upon being cited in the the NY Times bestseller Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Salatin was also featured in the Academy nominated film, Food More >

Jemez Pueblo Plans for Long-Term Renewable Energy

The 3,000-member Jemez Pueblo is developing plans to build the first utility-scale solar power plant on tribal land. The project is to include 14,850 solar panels on 30 acres. The cost is estimated at $22 million – to be financed through government loans, grants and tax credits. It is estimated the plant could generate $25 million over the next quarter century through power purchases by outside customers. This would create sustainable revenue for the tribe’s infrastructure and community services. So far, however, an agreement from a utility to purchase the energy has not been established.

James Roger Madalena, a former tribal More >

Emissions Permitting on Tribal Lands

Late this month, a new rule goes into effect that covers permits for emissions sources – large and small – in Indian Country. The rule was created at the request of tribes and businesses that were having trouble obtaining permits to operate.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), until now, has had no permitting process for large facilities such as power plants that emit more than 100 tons of pollutants a year, or for smaller ones, such as gas stations, dry cleaners or biomass boilers on tribal lands where national standards haven’t been met. Tribes with casinos in rural areas sometimes More >

Will Wilson’s Auto Immune Response Lab

“Has the Navajo Nation foodshed become a “food desert” within three generations?” asks Will Wilson. Wilson is exploring creative revitalization techniques as part of his A.I.R. (Auto Immune Response) series of art installations. The “A.I.R. Lab” installation is a life-sized steel-hogan greenhouse with a water irrigation system and indigenous food plants growing in it. The facility is accompanied by a set of large-scale photographs illustrating the botany and cultivation. Wilson hopes the project will spark questions that challenge the social, cultural and environmental systems that surround us. The installation is currently at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa More >

Tradition and Sustainability: A Santa Clara Pueblo Perspective

Tessie Naranjo, Ph.D.

When we lived at our ancestral home, Puje, commonly known as Puye, 10 miles from our village at Santa Clara, we always took care of the land: planting and cultivating indigenous foods and harvesting the myriad wild plants and animals. In the 1300s life was difficult because of the dry and harsh climatic conditions; nonetheless, my ancestors survived for hundreds of years by caring for and living off the land. Then, by the 1400s, we moved down from the mountains and established our village and farms alongside the Rio Grande (P’o suwae-geh), carrying our seasonal traditions with us. More >

Tribal Tourism Gathering at IAIA

Susan Guyette

Cultural tourism supports tribal efforts in many ways. Job creation, stimulating the learning of the cultural arts, contributing to the creation of indigenous economies, encouraging cultural pride – all are important reasons to engage in tourism. Yet this engagement must be done carefully to avoid negative impacts. Cultural boundaries must be drawn by each community on what to share and protect.

Each year, for the past five years at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, these topics have been addressed through a “Tribal Tourism Workshop” series offering practical tribal value-based training and presentations on tourism development, management More >