The Wayward West
President Clinton has honored Wilma Mankiller, a former Cherokee chief, with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. "Prior to my election," said Mankiller, a longtime Native American activist, "young Cherokee girls would never have thought they might grow up and become chief."
A panel of three federal judges has yet to appoint an independent counsel to investigate charges that Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt rejected a proposed casino in Wisconsin as a political favor (HCN, 11/24/97). The panel approved Attorney General Janet Reno's request for the counsel last month. Three Chippewa tribal groups accuse Babbitt of scuttling their proposal as a favor to competing tribes, which later gave $230,000 to the Democratic Party. Babbitt denies the charge.
The Sierra Club's 550,000 members are voting on whether the group should support immigration limits (HCN, 12/23/96) to control population growth and protect the environment. Ballots are due April 18.
A flash flood that killed 11 hikers in Antelope Canyon near Page, Ariz., last August (HCN, 9/1/97) has produced a lawsuit. Families of three French hikers who died in the flood filed suit in U.S. District Court in Phoenix last month against the British tour company, Premiere International Corp. The suit alleges that a company guide allowed the hikers to enter the narrow canyon despite flood dangers. Premiere International has not yet responded.
The wise-use group People for the West is now called People for the USA (HCN, 9/15/97). Spokeswoman Sue Christy says they have 25,000 members nationally and new chapters in Wisconsin and Mississippi. They are also working on issues in Pennsylvania and Florida. A big topic is federal reintroduction of endangered species, especially predators such as wolves. Says Christy, "We feel people are not always taken into the equation as importantly as predators."
* Peter Chilson