In A Shirt, Lakota Family Sees Its History. Ten
years ago, lost to drugs and alcohol, Karen Little Thunder moved back
to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where, she said, she
saved her own life by reconnecting to her Lakota heritage, particularly
the legacy of her great-great grandfather. He was Little Thunder, a
Lakota leader and a contemporary of Crazy Horse, whose life spanned
several decades central to the history of the tribe — from the battles
it fought across the Great Plains to its resettlement on reservations. New York Times, Dec. 28, 2013. Photo: Sam Minkler.
||Resort's Snow Won't Be Pure This Year; It'll Be Sewage
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Klee Benally, a member of the Navajo tribe, has gone
to the mountains just north of here to pray, and he has gone to get
arrested. He has chained himself to excavators; he has faced down
bulldozers. For 10 years, the soft-spoken activist has fought a ski
resort’s expansion plans in the San Francisco Peaks that include
clear-cutting 74 acres of forest and piping treated sewage effluent
onto a mountain to make snow. New York Times, Sept. 26, 2012.
Uranium Mines Dot Navajo Land, Neglected and Still Perilous CAMERON,
Ariz. — In the summer of 2010, a Navajo cattle rancher named Larry
Gordy stumbled upon an abandoned uranium mine in the middle of his
grazing land and figured he had better call in the feds. Engineers from
the Environmental Protection Agency arrived a few months later, Geiger
counters in hand, and found radioactivity levels that buried the
needles on their equipment. New York Times, Apr. 1, 2012.
[This story prompted a Congressional response.]
||Black Mesa Mines: Native Americans Demand Return of Their Ancestors Bones.
In 1967 the Peabody coal company came to the Navajo and Hopi
reservations in northern Arizona and Utah to excavate a strip mine –
but the land it leased from the tribes was on an ancient tribal burial
ground. So, as required by law, it hired archeologists and for the next
17 years a dig known as the Black Mesa archeological project – the
largest in North American history – unearthed more than one million
artefacts, including the remains of 200 Native Americans.. The Guardian, Dec. 10, 2014. Photo: Sam Minkler.
||Ban on uranium mining at Grand Canyon upheld by Arizona court.
A coalition of conservation groups are hailing an Arizona judge’s
decision this week to uphold the Obama administration’s 20-year ban on
new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands
adjacent to Grand Canyon. The Guardian, Oct. 2, 2014. Photo: Leslie Macmillan.
||Hopi lawsuit against wastewater snowmaking gets green light in Arizona.
The Arizona Supreme Court has greenlighted a lawsuit that the Hopi
Tribe brought against the city of Flagstaff, Ariz. for selling
wastewater to a local ski resort to make fake snow. In a procedural
victory, the tribe has won the right to proceed with its lawsuit
challenging Flagstaff’s 2002 decision to sell reclaimed wastewater to
the Arizona Snowbowl ski area, on claims that the wastewater snow
creates a “public nuisance." High Country News, Jan. 16, 2014. Photo: Sam Minkler.
||Peabody mine expansion coincides with Navajo and Hopi artifacts battle. Ten
years ago, Jennafer Yellowhorse picked up an out-of-print archeology
book titled A View from Black Mesa and read about a vast trove of
artifacts unearthed on a lonesome plateau of Navajo land near the Four
Corners. “Right in my backyard,” as she says, “but I’d never heard of
it; no one had. So I started asking questions.” Her questions would
lead to the heart of the Southwest’s energy infrastructure and the
largest archeology project ever conducted on U.S. soil. High Country News, Dec. 20, 2013. Photo: Sam Minkler.
||Regulations for Native American "Artifacts" Auctions May Still Be Too Lax.
A 19th century Sioux shirt pulled from auction reveals that regulation
of auctioning off Native American 'artifacts' may still be too lax.
Recent events raise the question of who the rightful "owner" is of
items that are important heirlooms of tribal history. The BIA is
charged with enforcing some of these regulations, but its role is
“ambiguous and remains unsettled." High Country News, Nov. 18, 2013.
||Grand Canyon Uranium Mine Placed on Hold.
A uranium-mining company that was due to open its mine on the doorstep
of the Grand Canyon is suspending work, citing falling uranium prices
and the expense of ongoing litigation. The Guardian, Nov. 7, 2013.
||Why Are Horses Still Being Slaughtered in Droves? An
estimated 33,000 horses roam freely on public lands and even more on
tribal lands. The Bureau of Land Management is supposed to control
their numbers so that they don't ravage grasslands or die of
starvation. But critics of horse roundups contend they are a
profit-driven enterprise sanctioned by the federal government and
driven by business interests like cattle ranching and extractive
industries that want to clear land for development. Esquire, Oct. 24, 2013. A Win for the West's Wild Horses. The re-opening of equine slaughterhouses is halted, for now. Esquire, Nov. 5, 2013. Photo: Sam Minkler.
||Forget Keystone. Tar Sands Drilling Is On In Utah.
While tar sands have become synonymous with Alberta, few know that the
United States may soon see its own oil boom. Last March, the U.S.
Bureau of Land Management approved more than 800,000 acres for tar
sands and oil shale development over a vast stretch of land in Utah,
Wyoming and Colorado known as the Green River Formation. Esquire, Sept. 12, 2013.
Everyone Wants A Piece Of The Grand Canyon, But At What Cost?TUSAYAN,
Ariz. — For most of its existence, Tusayan, Arizona (pop. 580) has been
little more than a pokey strip of motels and fast food restaurants
strung along State Highway 64, the last place to gas up before entering
the relative wilderness of the Grand Canyon, two miles away.
a handful of wealthy business owners and their Italian development
partner say the town could be more — much more. Esquire, Aug. 29, 2013.
||We Are Still Here.
In 2011, Klee Benally chained himself to a backhoe on the San Francisco
Peaks near Flagstaff, Ariz. One knee in the dirt, the lanky Diné
(Navajo) activist thundered at U.S. Forest Service officials, “Right
here we draw the line! Right here we say no more!” He had gone to the
mountain to pray, but ended up protesting the Arizona Snowbowl ski
resort’s plan to turn wastewater into snow. After two hours, he was
arrested and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct. High Country News, Aug. 19, 2013. photo: Sam Minkler.
||Where the Wild Things Are (Or Aren't).
When Lewis and Clark set out in 1804 to map the American West, tens of
thousands of grizzly bears roamed the northern plains and Rockies — a
“large and a turrible looking animal, which we found verry hard to
kill,” their journals record. But just decades later, killing grizzlies
had become common, as the Wild West was settled and large animals were
cleared to make room for ranching, mining and homesteading. Ensia, June 3, 2013.
||Grand Canyon Uranium Mining Set To Go Ahead Despite Ban from Obama. Energy Fuels Resources has federal approval to reopen its mine six miles south of the canyon's South Rim entrance. The Guardian, April 30, 2013.
||A Snapshot of Drilling on a Park's Margins.
Two years ago, the photographer Tony Bynum, whose images of Big Sky
country have graced the covers of magazines like Field and Stream,
embarked on a different type of photodocumentary project. His goal was
to create an interactive map to illustrate the oil and gas boom in his
own backyard on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park in Montana. New York Times Green Blog, March 1, 2013.
||National Parks on a Precipice.
Unless Congress can reach a budget agreement by March 1, the country’s
national parks will be hit by a $110 million budget cut, resulting in
shuttered campgrounds, shorter seasons, road closings and reduced
emergency services, a parks advocacy group reports. New York Times (Blog), Feb. 22, 2013. An Addendum on National Park Cuts. New York Times Green Blog, Feb. 25, 2013.
||A Move to Protect Red-Rock Country in Utah. A proposed resolution would urge the federal government to protect a vast roadless tract in Utah from development. New York Times Green Blog, Feb. 12, 2013.
||Arizona Mining Project Wins Crucial Permit.
A Canadian mining company has come one step closer to building a
mile-wide, half-mile-deep open-pit copper mine on public land 30 miles
south of Tucson. State environmental regulators have decided that
emissions from the proposed Rosemont Copper mine would meet federal air
standards. New York Times Green Blog, Feb. 4, 2013.
||Hurdles Remain for Jaguar Habitat.
Last fall, remote cameras in a rugged expanse of desert grasslands in
Southern Arizona captured arresting images of a jaguar slinking through
the underbrush, its yellow eyes fixed on some distant sight. The photos
add to the dozen or so documented sightings of the endangered cat on
American soil in the last century. New York Times Green Blog, Jan. 23, 2013.
||Discolored Slopes Mar Debut of Snow-Making Effort.
An Arizona resort attributes the initial yellowish cast to a rusty
residue in its snow-making equipment, not the material’s wastewater
origins. New York Times (Blog), Jan. 11, 2013. Inquiry Into Discolored Snow
A local city council will investigate a complaint about exposure to
discolored snow generated from wastewater at Arizona Snowbowl. New York Times (Blog), Jan. 17, 2013. Ski Resort Needs Bigger Wastewater Signs, Agency Says. New York Times Green Blog, Jan. 29, 2013.
||Vast Land Deal Divides Detroit.
John Hantz says he has a dream: to purchase 140 acres of derelict land
in the heart of Detroit and turn it into the world’s “largest urban
farm.” New York Times Green Blog, Dec. 10, 2012. Detroit Narrowly Approves Land Sale.
In a 5-4 vote, the Detroit City Council on Tuesday approved a
controversial land sale of more than 140 acres of land to an
entrepreneur by a 5-4 vote.
||Snow, Sewage and a Fragile Alpine Plant.
Weeks before the snow guns at the Arizona Snowbowl ski area are set to
begin blowing artificial snow made from sewage effluent — a focus of a
10-year legal battle — the Hopi tribe has mounted a new challenge,
arguing that the plan could jeopardize the survival of a fragile plant.
New York Times Green Blog, Nov. 19, 2012.
||Bison Bones, a Backhoe, and a Crow Curse.
Around the time of Christ’s birth, while the Roman Empire was reigning
over the civilized world, a group of Indian hunters in what is now
Sarpy Creek, Montana, chased a herd of 2,000 wild bison into a narrow
drainage area and launched an attack, filling the sky with a sheet of
arrows. As the wooly beasts lay bleeding to death from their wounds,
the hunters then set upon them with their flint knives, scouring the
animals for meat, hide, and bones. Outside Magazine, Nov. 9, 2012.
||On The Slopes, Gliding on Wastewater.
As I wrote in The Times recently, a ski resort in northern Arizona will
become the first in the world to make artificial snow totally out of
sewage effluent this winter. Now, apart from longstanding concern about
harmful chemicals in the water that will be used to make that snow —
piped directly from the sewage treatment system of the nearby town of
Flagstaff — new research indicates that the wastewater system is a
breeding ground for antibiotic-resistant genes. New York Times Green Blog, Oct. 10, 2012.
||Lose the Crust, Inherit the Wind.
As the West struggles with wildfires this summer, hot, dry weather is
also contributing to massive dust storms in Arizona. Known as
“haboobs,” the storms are characterized by strong winds and a wall of
dust that can be thousands of feet high, grounding planes, blowing away
barns and knocking out power to major cities like Phoenix. New York Times Green Blog, July 18, 2012.
||The Garden Party Redefined.
Forget the elegant hats and croquet; “garden assistance parties” are
for ripping out lawns and planting native plants that soak up
stormwater and protect oceans. New York Times Green Blog, July 2, 2012.
||A Legal Battle Unfolds Over Newly Returned Bison.
The legal battle continues over the fate of a herd of wild bison that
are roaming the plains of northern Montana for the first time in more
than a century. New York Times Green Blog, May 31, 2012. [This piece was mentioned in the preface to George Catlin's American Buffalo, forthcoming in fall 2013 from Smithsonian American Art Museum.]
||A Difficult Choice on Water.
Proposed legislation offers the Navajo and Hopi the service of having
water piped into their homes but comes with the caveat that they hand
over their rights to the waters of the Little Colorado River. New York Times Green Blog, Apr. 6, 2012. Photo: Sam Minkler
||Uranium, Grazing Cattle and Risks Unknown.
There is no dispute that beef and milk from those cattle make their way
into the food chain. What is not precisely known is how much
radioactive material plants absorb through the soil, how much the
cattle ingest by grazing on the plants and what the effect might be on
humans. New York Times Green Blog, Apr. 4, 2012.
||A Tough Pond to Fish.
CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti—Driving through Cap-Haitien, Haiti’s largest city in
the north, six months after the earthquake, it’s easy to forget for a
moment that a city in rubble lies a mere seventy miles away. The World
Cup is on. At eight a.m., people dressed in yellow and green Brazil
jerseys are lugging huge TV sets onto sidewalks so that entire
neighborhoods can watch together. When I ask Edy why those teams are
favored, he smiles broadly. “Because they always win,” he says, “and
Haiti wants to go with a winner.” Tufts Magazine, winter 2011.
||Season of Hope.
MILOT, Haiti—On a hot day in early July, Sally Greenwald walks across a
dusty tent clinic set up by the local hospital here to treat earthquake
victims flown in from the capital. She points to a young woman in a
wheelchair. Six months after the January 12 earthquake that leveled
Port-au-Prince and killed more than 200,000 people, the woman is still
here, and lately she has begun to wonder what life holds for her. She
has no home, no family and no legs. Tufts Journal, Sept. 22, 2010.
For all New York Times Green Blog stories, go here.