Power (and financial) struggle

  • Left to right: Andy Bessler, Tony Skrelunas, Wahleah Johns, Dennis Wagner, Marley Shebala and Vernon Masayesva, at the "Power Struggle" panel discussion.

    Paul Larmer
 

Despite running head-to-head with President Obama's State of the Union speech and a talk on campus by Native American writer Leslie Marmon Silko, our Jan. 27 panel discussion on energy, activism and the role of the media on the Navajo and Hopi Nations drew more than 100 Tucsonians. "Power Struggle," co-hosted by the University of Arizona School of Journalism, focused on coal mining on Black Mesa and the prospects for green alternatives, including wind and solar power, but it ranged broadly across issues of tribal sovereignty and identity.

Navajo Times reporter and HCN board member Marley Shebala told the audience that outside journalists covering Indian country often fail to "think Indian" when covering issues on the reservations. As a result, she said, they often accept tribal government press releases at face value, even though those governments were set up by the federal government to rubberstamp corporate exploitation of tribal resources.

Arizona Republic investigative journalist Dennis Wagner, who joked that he was from the "bald, bilagaana tribe," played devil's advocate on behalf of coal mining and tribal government officials who were invited but didn't attend. "The idea that there is a unilateral way of thinking Indian scares me because it represents a kind of stereotype," he said. "If you think that Native Americans can only think that a mine on Black Mesa is bad, then you are shortchanging Indians. Someone like (Navajo Tribal Chairman) Joe Shirley can argue, ‘How am I going to provide economic development for the Diné, how am I going to provide jobs on an Indian nation with 50 percent unemployment?' I'm not justifying his position; I'm saying that he might be thinking Indian, too, when he says this."

Former Hopi Tribal Chairman Vernon Masayesva, who now heads the Black Mesa Trust, a group fighting coal mining, said the tribes have known for centuries about the wealth underneath Black Mesa. But mining should be done at "the right time, the right way, and for the right purpose" to respect the tribe's environmental and social traditions. For the past 50 years, Masayesva said, mining has depleted and polluted groundwater, destroyed archaeological sites and failed to provide enough financial return for tribes in the form of taxes and royalties. "We are not against coal mining, but we are opposed to how it is being done."

Two days after the event, HCN's Board of Directors met to discuss the financial health of the organization. The struggling economy continues to impact our bottom line: Research Fund donations are down slightly from last year, and advertising revenue is even lower. Board members and staff pledged to push fundraising for the rest of this 40th anniversary year, setting a goal of raising $200,000 in Research Fund donations between April 1 and Oct. 1. Feel free to pitch in if the spirit moves you!

CLARIFICATION, CORRECTIONS
In the Feb. 15 issue, the article "Cross(border) winds" uses the phrase "liquid natural gas plant" to refer to a natural gas power plant that gets fuel from a liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal, and is not meant to imply that the plant itself runs on natural gas in a liquid state. The article "Prodigal Dogs" in the same issue refers erroneously to the Colorado Department of Wildlife rather than to the state's Division of Wildlife. Also in that issue, the story "The Other Big One" inadvertently omitted the first name of ARkStorm project manager Dale Cox. We regret the errors.

High Country News Classifieds
  • PLANNING & BUILDING DIRECTOR
    Searching for candidates with a Bachelor's Degree in Planning, Community Development, or a related field with 7 years' experience in land use planning forums, including...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • NEWS DIRECTOR
    Based in the state capitol, Boise State Public Radio is the premier NPR affiliate in Idaho. With 18 transmitters and translators, it reaches 2/3rds of...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR MOJAVE DESERT LAND TRUST
    Organization Background: The Mojave Desert Land Trust (MDLT) is a non-profit 501(3)(c) organization, founded in 2006. Our mission is to protect the ecosystems of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...
  • FOREST STEWARDSHIP PROJECT DIRECTOR
    Become a force for nature and a healthy planet by joining the Arizona Chapter as Forest Stewardship Project Director. You will play a key role...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Ranchers Stewardship Alliance is accepting applications for an Executive Director. This position will provide leadership to RSA, develop a fund raising plan, and effectively communicate...
  • EQUITY IN THE OUTDOORS COORDINATOR
    The Equity in the Outdoors Coordinator will lead community engagement, program implementation and development, and data collection for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement (EVOM). EVOM...
  • COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT ASSISTANT
    The Idaho Conservation League is seeking a personable individual who is passionate about conservation to join our Sandpoint Field Office. The Community Engagement Assistant will...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT FLY ROD CASES
    4 standard or custom lengths. Rugged protection for backpacking. Affordable pricing.
  • EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION INTERN/ASSISTANT
    Actively introduce students to Experiential Education, Outdoor Recreation, and Sustainability while engaging and challenging them to learn and participate in these diverse opportunities. Room, board,...
  • ENVIRONMENTAL INVESTIGATIVE MEDIA SERVICES
    In-depth investigations of polluters, lobbyists, regulators, elected officials and others focused on environmentally damaging projects in the U.S. and internationally. We specialize in mining projects,...
  • UNDEVELOPED 40 ACRES - SOUTHWEST COLORADO
    in beautiful Montezuma County.
  • TRUCK DRIVER
    Class A & B drivers, pass all DOT requirements and clean driving record
  • MARIA'S BOOKSHOP FOR SALE
    - Thriving Indie bookstore in the heart of Durango, Colorado. General bookstore with 34-year history as a community hub for Southwest region of CO. 1800...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    will develop and execute Wild Utah Projects fundraising plan. Call, email or check full description of job online for more details: