A community newspaper for the Jicarita watershed, including the
Rio Mora, Rio Santa Barbara, Rio de las Trampas, Rio Pueblo, & Rio Embudo
November 1 Begins Leonard Peltier Freedom Month By Eda Gordon, Leonard Peltier Support Group - New Mexico
Editorial By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews
New Mexico Acequia Association Invites Parciantes to Help Reshape Organization By Paula Garcia, Director
Book Review By Kay Matthews
By Eda Gordon, Leonard Peltier Support Group - New Mexico
November is Native American Heritage Month. It is also the month supporters will gather in Washington, D.C. to demand the release of American Indian Movement leader Leonard Peltier. November 1 begins the Leonard Peltier Freedom Campaign, which will continue through Thanksgiving Day in solidarity with Peltier, other political prisoners, and indigenous peoples throughout the hemisphere who have been the target of government repression.
Peltier has now been unjustly incarcerated for over 23 years for his sovereign stand on the Pine Ridge Reservation at Oglala, South Dakota on June 26, 1975. The government has admitted that they do not know who killed the two FBI agents who died that day, along with Joe Stuntz, a young Native American man. Their case against Peltier is riddled with instances of FBI misconduct, including the coercion of witnesses, utilization of falsified evidence, and concealment of a key ballistics test that reflects Peltier's innocence. His codefendants, Dino Butler and Bob Robideau, tried separately prior to Peltier, were acquitted on grounds of self-defense because of the atmosphere of terror and repression in which the FBI firefight took place. Yet Peltier remains in prison, denied a new trial and long overdue parole. He has exhausted his appeal process, and his application for executive clemency has languished in the Department of Justice for an unprecedented five years.
Amnesty International, members of the European Parliament, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights, the Dalai Lama, the National Council of Churches, and the Archbishop of Canterbury have all recognized Leonard Peltier as a political prisoner and demanded his immediate and unconditional release - to no avail.
Time is running out in this tragic case. At 55, Peltier's health is beginning to deteriorate. Like many Native Americans, he now suffers from diabetes and a heart condition as well as a jaw problem that causes constant pain. Surgery at the Bureau of Prisons Medical Facility at Springfield in 1996 exacerbated the jaw problem and now prison authorities refuse either to transfer Peltier to the Mayo Clinic, where a specialist has offered treatment, or to provide current X-rays for the specialist to use in examining Peltier at Leavenworth Penitentiary, where he is incarcerated. The authorities' willingness to provide a third surgery at the Springfield Medical Facility has now been replaced with a flat assertion that Peltier's condition cannot be treated at all.
Peltier's life is "an extended agony," he says in his recently released memoir, Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance, published by St. Martin's Press. "I feel like I've lived a hundred lifetimes in prison already. But I'm prepared to live thousands more on behalf of my people." He tells the families of the fallen FBI agents, "We have many dead of our own to pray for, and we join our prayers of sorrow to yours. . . . I can't apologize for what I haven't done. But I can grieve and I do."
He also miraculously nourishes the spirits of fellow prisoners inside and his untiring defense committee on the outside. One day after his release from Leavenworth last September, Puerto Rican independista Luis Rosa talked of Leonard and being a political prisoner: "Living up to the image - we live up to our own principles, not a dress or a suit we put on. It is the fabric of who we are. When people see us, we don't stand out, we don't walk with our heads up higher, with well manicured images. We are known for our consistency. When there is an issue we step forward. We use our voice when there is abuse. We are known for our humility, our willingness to help others. If you look at the conduct of all political prisoners, it is not one of arrogance but one of a person who sits back and listens before he speaks and appreciates the opinions of others and can learn and be willing to teach. It is a misconception that we walk too straight of a line with no time for humor or sports or for leisure. The last thing I did before I left is play hand ball with Leonard and eat with Leonard. We joked and played practical jokes on each other. Laughter is what inspires us the most and you know, Leonard is one of the biggest jokers in there."
Each communication from the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee asks: "It is 1999. Why is Leonard Peltier still in prison?" It is a good question. Hope springs eternal, and when President Clinton recently offered members of the Puerto Rican Independence Movement release - granted, with questionable conditions infringing on their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and assembly - there was hope once again that Leonard will be free.
You can help make that demand loud and clear. During the Leonard Peltier Freedom Campaign the Defense Committee is asking those who can't be in Washington for a mass show of support through phone calls and letters. To make the strongest impact, phone calls are being organized by region. Friday is the day for calls from the Southwest. Most important, of course, is bombarding the comment line at the White House, 202-456-1111, asking for executive clemency for Leonard Peltier. If 30 people call on the same day with the same message, a note goes to the President that the matter is of public interest. We need to remind them that we are here, and that there are many of us. Letters can also be sent to President Clinton at The White House, Washington, D.C. 20500.
Other important calls to make are to your congressional delegation, urging their support for executive clemency and for the expansion of Congress's investigation into FBI misconduct to include the Peltier case. To express your concern about Leonard's health and the need for current X-rays to realistically assess possible treatment, write Warden Booker, Leavenworth Prison, Box 1000, Leavenworth, KS 66048. Further information about Leonard Peltier is available from the Defense Committee, P. O. Box 583, Lawrence, KS 66044, PH: 785-842-5774, or on line at:
By Mark Schiller and Kay Matthews
Some environmental groups are claiming recreation generates much more revenue than extractive uses such as grazing and logging and does so with many fewer impacts to the land. This proposition sounds perfectly logical in theory, but if you look at it more closely, in terms of the economics of rural communities and site-specific impacts to public lands, it is dangerously misleading.
With regard to economics, Forest Guardians' State of the Southern Rockies Greater San Juan-Sangre de Cristo Bioregion Wildlands Report asserts that of the $130 billion generated by national forest activities, recreation accounts for $97.8 billion. What does this figure actually represent? It represents both undeveloped and developed recreation, which includes skiing, rafting, off-road vehicles, jeep, boat, helicopter tours, etc. How does this translate into economic benefits for rural communities? It means more low-paying, seasonal, service-industry jobs as well as more development, traffic, congestion, and strains on infrastructure. The promise of a more sustainable economy based on recreation and tourism has, according to Professor Richard L. Knight of Colorado State University, "not gone unchallenged. Indeed, considering that it is the very amenity values associated with public lands that are fueling so much of the growth in these rural landscapes, there appear to be inevitable conflicts between amenity-based economic growth and urban sprawl and loss of biological diversity." (See Book Review, page 7). Furthermore, the big money generated by eco-tourism often underwrites the lobby against wilderness, because this classification precludes the kind of access necessary for its activities.
The expansion of recreation also means the marginalization of land-based activities such as grazing, farming, and logging, which can be sustainable and which maintain the rural/agricultural nature of forest adjacent communities. Now that the multinationals have left New Mexico, more and more independent, community-based loggers are struggling to become economically viable. With public land managers' budgets dwindling, these loggers are critical to the rehabilitation of overstocked and unhealthy forests.
The Wildlands report goes on to say, "If recreation continues to grow at current rates, it could eventually rival extractive uses in its impacts on the land." This projection is already a reality in many areas of our national forests. For example, on the Las Vegas-Pecos District of the Santa Fe National Forest, District Ranger Dan Crittenden has closed the 80-acre Beatty's Flats, a timber and grasslands riparian area, to overnight camping. He found that recreationists were creating new trails, causing streambank erosion, cutting trees for firewood, littering, and contaminating the river with horse and human waste. By contrast, a grazing association in the same area employs a herder to control the movement of the cows to reduce impacts to forage and prevent them from entering the riparian area. Crittenden also claimed that on his district grazing permittees have been willing to incorporate innovative grazing techniques and have been more flexible that recreationists in adapting to change.
In a community mapping project to integrate forest uses and prevent conflict on the El Rito Ranger District of Carson National Forest, one of the main concerns expressed by local communities was that the increased promotion of tourism in the area is exacerbating an already existing problem of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) use. This has been identified as one of the main causes of erosion, wildlife disturbance, and illegal access into unroaded areas. Ironically, this is the same district that Forest Guardians and other environmental groups have continually sued to shut-down community-based loggers.
While intransigent members of the environmental community like Sam Hitt continue to promote recreation as the "highest value" forest use - even in the Santa Fe watershed, where dense, water guzzling forests are a disaster waiting to happen - public lands managers must take a balanced approach to this complex issue and not promote an unbridled expansion of recreation.
By Mark Schiller
On Saturday, October 9 the Taos Valley Acequia Association and the New Mexico Acequia Association sponsored an Acequia Conference, which brought together acequia authorities Dr. Michael Meyer of the University of Arizona, Dr. José Rivera of the University of New Mexico, and members of the State Engineer Office's (SEO) legal division and acequia rehabilitation program.
Michael Meyer, author of Water in the Hispanic Southwest, began the conference by discussing the role of historians in acequia adjudication. He noted that because the state bases the seniority of acequia rights on prior use, it is critical for acequias to determine their priority dates. This, he explained, is not always easy because there are major gaps in the historical record. Historians must often rely on settlement patterns rather than archival documentation. He went on to say that many of the disputes that arise between the SEO and acequias stem from interpretation of the law. Acequias have traditionally asserted that their rights stem from Spanish and Mexican water law and are protected by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Under Spanish and Mexican law water rights are community property and are tied to the land, whereas under New Mexico state law they are considered an individual property right and can be severed from the land and transferred outside their original area of use. Meyer told the group that the authority of Spanish and Mexican law is protected by the United States Constitution, which asserts that international treaties are "the supreme law of the land", and by the New Mexico Constitution, which in Article 2, Paragraph 5 asserts that rights preserved under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo are inviolable.
Meyer went on to discuss the role of historians in the difficult task of determining Native American water rights. He said that historically Hispanic and Native American communities have worked together to find equitable ways to share the water. The adjudication process, and the ongoing process of legally defining tribal sovereignty, however, have pitted these two communities against each other at the expense of both.
José Rivera, author of Acequia Culture, gave the next presentation. He told the group that acequias were "the birthplace of community in the United States" and that presas (diversion dams) were the "first public works projects." He went on to say that in order to maintain the agricultural use of water irrigators must maximize the possibilities of those uses. He cited Estevan Arellano's farm in Embudo as an example of what he meant. Using Spanish models that he has researched, Arellano has transformed his 2.5-acre farm into what Rivera described as an "edible landscape", with every square inch of arable land under cultivation. Rivera then showed slides of New Mexico and Spanish acequias and explained how they affected the landscape and the culture of the communities.
After a short break Don Lopez of the SEO told the group about money available from his office for acequia rehabilitation projects. He said that as of July 1999 there was approximately $300,000 available. Grants in this program cannot exceed $60,000, and the SEO will pay for up to 80% of the work, with the acequia responsible for the remaining 20%. Acequias interested in applying for these funds must submit a copy of their bylaws, their tax ID number, a design plan, a bid from a certified contractor, and a letter stating that the majority of the parciantes on the acequia approve the project. Acequia commissioners can contact Chuck Caruso at 827-6196, or John Garcia at 827-6138 for more information. Lopez explained that grants for larger projects are available from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. He also said that low-interest loans (2.5%) are available through the Interstate Stream Commission.
Lopez was followed by Ted Apodaca and Tammy Zokan of the SEO legal division, who discussed the ten most common legal issues facing acequias and the legal precedents upon which they are based. A copy of the material they covered can be obtained by calling Ted at 827-6134 or Tammy at 827-6150.
Finally, Apodaca introduced Hilario Rubio, the newly appointed Acequia Liaison Officer at the SEO. Rubio, formerly of the Planning Department in San Miguel County, will address parciantes concerns with regard to errors and omissions they feel may have been made during the adjudication process. Rubio explained that he is both a parciante and a land grant activist, and he will bring that experience to his new job.
Photos to be posted soon...
By Paula Garcia, Director
On Saturday, November 13th, the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA) will make some important decisions about the structure and purpose of the statewide acequia organization. Acequias and regional associations of acequias are invited to participate in the annual meeting at which NMAA will propose the creation of the statewide Acequia Congreso. The purpose of this fundamental change to the organizational structure of NMAA is to have a representative body of acequias from around the state to effectively address issues of common concern.
Acequias are very important to the state of New Mexico. Acequias hold a significant portion and some of the most senior water rights in the state and are a centuries-old system of local governance. The primary function of acequias in the future will continue to be water management at the local level. In addition to their historic and traditional roles, acequias are being challenged to deal with new issues such as protecting their water rights and agricultural land from increasing demands and defending their water rights in adjudication suits.
To address these challenges acequias in the past several years have organized at both the regional and state levels. Regional associations of acequias, thirteen in New Mexico, have been effective in bringing acequias in their region together for common defense in adjudication and on other issues. In addition to these efforts, a statewide organization formed whose purpose has been to build the capacity of acequias to protect their water rights and to engage in planning and policy development.
The proposed Acequia Congreso is intended to be a statewide body of acequias that can address issues of common concern. The Congreso will be comprised of representatives of the regional acequia associations and at-large representatives from other regions that do not currently have regional associations. Representatives from the regional associations will be chosen by acequias in their association through their own election or appointment process. Representatives from other regions will be selected by the acequias in their region as well.
There will be two categories of voting membership in NMAA: Regional Acequia Associations and Acequia Members. Regional Acequia Associations will have an automatic seat on the Congreso. Acequia Members from the other regions will elect their representative through a different process. One option for this process is for acequias in a particular region to form a caucus at the NMAA annual meeting to select their representative. Over the long-term, NMAA would like to encourage the formation of regional acequia associations in all areas and to provide resources to acequias in regions to assist in those organizing efforts.
The NMAA Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, November 13th at the Onate Center in Alcalde from 12:30 - 5:00 with dinner afterward. From 12:30 to 3:30 the NMAA Annual meeting will be held and from 3:30 to 5:00 there will be two panel discussion: Approaches to Protecting Agricultural Land and Protecting Acequias from Increasing Demands for Water. A special dinner at $5 per plate will follow from 5:00 - 7:00.
The primary item on the agenda of the NMAA Annual Meeting is the formation of the Acequia Congreso. The agenda also includes the introduction and passage of resolutions regarding NMAA organizational policy and NMAA positions on local and state water policy issues. Another important item on the agenda is the convening of the Congreso, which will begin with the introduction of acequia leaders and delegations of leaders from both regional associations and other regions of the state. All acequias are invited to attend the meeting regardless of whether they have been members of NMAA.
SPECIAL INVITATION TO ACEQUIAS FROM RIO PUEBLO/RIO EMBUDO STREAM SYSTEM
The New Mexico Acequia Association would like to extend a special invitation to acequias from the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo area including the communities of Penasco, Vadito, Llano, Rodarte, Rio Lucio, Chamisal, El Valle, Ojo Sarco, Embudo, Dixon and others to attend the NMAA Annual Meeting on Saturday, November 13th at the Onate Center in Alcalde. The Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo is a very special and significant region of the state because of the high number of acequias and the strength of the custom and traditions intertwined with acequias. NMAA also extends a special invitation to acequias in the area to become involved with the formation of the statewide Acequia Congreso.
The Congreso will include acequia representatives from both regions that have regional acequia associations and other who currently do not. NMAA would like to emphasize that we would very much value the participation of acequias from the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo region. Like most areas of the state, the region oes not yet have an organized regional association but has a history of working to form one, and NMAA would like to support efforts to do so in the future. Although NMAA supports the formation of regional associations, we respect that regions will organize in the manner that they see fit and NMAA's role will be to provide resources to assist in organizing efforts.
There are a number of individuals and acequias in the Rio Pueblo/Rio Embudo that are doing work that is of importance collectively to acequias throughout the state. The Chamisal/Ojito Acequias have been active in taking measures to protect their water rights, and other individuals have been involved in a water transfer protest of statewide significance.NMAA would like to invite acequias to attend the NMAA Annual Meeting both as individual parciantes, comisionados, and mayordomos, and also as a delegation of acequias from your region or community. There will be a special time on the agenda to introduce yourselves to other acequias from around the state, and you can have input into the formation of the Congreso and the passage of resolutions for NMAA.
Please contact Paula Garcia at 262-2797 for more information regarding the NMAA Annual Meeting and Acequia Congreso. Paula is available to meet with people between now and the annual meeting who are interested in participating in the Acequia Congreso.
Like many in our community, we have watched the development of the Green Party in New Mexico since it became a major party in 1994. Increasingly, our interest has changed to disappointment and concern.
We represent organizations and individuals working and living in Albuquerque, from people of color, working class and poor communities. We are Native American, African American, Chicano/a, Asian American and European American. We are community-based organizations and students whose work for respect and equality spans decades in Albuquerque and New Mexico.
We engage in social justice work out of responsibility to maintain and make better the communities in which we live and work. The gains we have made in our communities have been hard won. It is for this reason, we, the signers of this letter, feel compelled to inform you of significant concerns we have regarding the Green Party's commitment to New Mexico's people of color and to the issues important to us. At the core of our concerns are questions of accountability and responsibility.
Partisan politics at the federal, state and local level impact our communities greatly. We see tremendous limitations in the current two-party system. We have seen the Democratic Party abandon its traditional base and pursue more conservative constituencies and policies. The Republican Party continues to create policies that hurt our communities. It is in this context that we put forward our concerns about the Green Party of New Mexico.
The most significant and damaging contribution of the Green Party has been to assist Republicans in winning. In last year's First Congressional District race, Green Party involvement contributed greatly to the election of Congresswoman Heather Wilson, the hand-picked Republican promoted by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM). Congresswoman Wilson's actions have had a disparaging effect on issues important to people of color, working class and poor people. She has consistently voted against bilingual education, including bills to void federal consent decrees requiring states to develop or implement bilingual education. She has also voted against drug treatment and prevention programs for youth. And Congresswoman Wilson supports the Paseo Del Norte Extension through the Petroglyph National Monument, which would desecrate a critical Native American religious practice.
We do not believe that the Green Party is ill intentioned. But when the Green Party leadership says, "vote your hopes not your fears," we question whether they understand the reality of working class and poor people. Republican policies on sacred sites, education and immigration have immediate consequences in our lives. Too often, those who can afford to act on their ideals without understanding when they need to compromise, do so because they do not have to face the consequences for their actions.
The Green Party uses high-profile elections to maintain majority party status and to build its party. We urge the Green Party, amid discussions of organization-building and majority party status strategy, to consider the responsibility it has for negatively impacting the lives and futures of people of color, working class people and poor people in Albuquerque and New Mexico, whose issues the Green Party professes to support. It is unclear whether the Green Party is working for social, environmental and economic justice, or whether it is more interested in party-building. We would say the latter, based on its actions.
The Green Party, much like the Republicans and Democrats, treats our communities with disregard, despite its perception of itself as a "people's" party. More important, people of color - particularly Native Americans - and native New Mexicans are poorly represented in the New Mexico Green Party's membership and leadership.
Given this situation, as predominately White allies who profess to support peoples' of color issues, the Green Party's most responsible path is to be responsive to the constituencies most impacted. It is not helpful when White allies, who feel they have better strategies, engage in work that counteracts ongoing long-term struggles led by people of color.
The issues that the Green Party of New Mexico has negatively impacted are real and urgent. We hope that the Green Party and its supporters will thoughtfully consider the responsibility they must maintain as allies to people of color, so that our efforts to achieve justice are enhanced and not hurt by the Green Party.
Laurie Weahkee, Petroglyph Monument Protection Coalition/UNM student; Rev. Ron Knight, St. Luke Gospel Baptist Church; Rev. Samuel Gilmore, Faith Temple Church of God in Christ; Carol Weahkee, Albuquerque Indian Center; Tom B. Kauley, Albuquerque Indian Center Dev. Corp.; Jeanne Gauna, SouthWest Organizing Project; Earl Tulley, Indigenous Environmental Network, NM Rep.; Richard Moore, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice; Ron Shutiva, Former Gov., Acoma Pueblo; Pablo Lopez, Tonantzin Land Institute; Miguel Acosta, El Puente; Darva Chino, Circle of Voices; Barney Botone, Native American Labor and Community Activist; Bineshi Albert, YouthAction; Sam English, Native American Community Activist; Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb; Sister Agnes Kaczmarek, Homeless Advocate; Roy White Eagle, Homeless Advocate; Arturo Lopez, Immigrant Organizer
By Kay Matthews
Devil's Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth Century American West
Hal K. Rothman
The first two chapters of this book - an analysis and indictment of the impacts of tourism on the American West - are alone worth its hefty weight. Rothman, a professor of history at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, is one of a handful of "new west" historians who are reexamining the way western history has been written and interpreted by the dominant society. Devil's Bargains is part of a series of books written under the auspices of The Development of Western Resources which focuses on the use and misuse of resources in the American West.
Rothman minces no words when summing up the impacts a tourist economy has upon the local people it exploits: "Locals must be what visitors want them to be in order to feed and clothe themselves and their families, but they also must guard themselves, their souls, and their places from people who less appreciate its special traits." Herein lies the essential dilemma western communities face in their transition from land-based and extractive industries to a tourist economy: how to create what Rothman calls "boxes between themselves and visitors" to save their culture and identity while at the same time making visitors believe "that their experience is the local's life, reality, and view of the world." The result, of course, is a virtual reality for both visitor and local.
Rothman points out that not all travelers in history have been tourists: crusaders, sojourners, and adventurers of the pre-industrial world "encountered the world without social, cultural, or institutional support, without a cell phone to call their travel agent or a railroad car in which to retire." The modern idea of tourism developed in the early nineteenth century when wealthy Americans began traveling to Europe to experience "culture" or to "polish" their young. Domestic tourism focused largely on the east, where the leisure class created by mercantile and industrial wealth traveled to resorts or to view the achievements of their society.
The West began attracting tourists after the Civil War, where its mythic nature and promise of prosperity first lured the "prototourists" interested in its geography and cultural history; then when the railroad opened up travel throughout the West, the leisure class. Riding the rails one could "see the world as they passed it by at the unheard-of pace of twenty to thirty miles per hour, but they were not part of it."
And so the scene was set throughout the west for the evolution of what Rothman sees as the three basic but intertwined types of tourism: heritage or cultural tourism, where Americans defined a cultural heritage for themselves apart from their European legacy; recreational tourism, or experience in the outdoors, which spawned resorts such as Sun Valley; and finally, entertainment tourism, "packaging experience in resorts and national parks and mimicking what these forms offered in the packaged unreality of Disneyland, theme parks, and even Las Vegas." Thus evolved the homogenization and virtualization of experience for the tourist, and the "cultural, environmental and psychic transformation of place."
In the ensuing chapters Rothman explores the impacts of specific kinds of tourism upon specific places: the railroad and the Grand Canyon; dude ranching; the ski industry in Steamboat Springs and Sun Valley; second homes; entertainment tourism; corporate Las Vegas. Of particular interest to New Mexicans is the chapter called "The Tourism of Hegemony II: The Railroad, Neonativity, and Santa Fe." Here he shows how the city's role as governmental center was replaced by its anti-mainstream cultural uniqueness, packaged by the "cultural entrepreneur, Edgar L. Hewitt," who was followed by a long line of Anglo colonialists who schizophrenically promoted its "specialness" while decrying any change they did not deem appropriate.
Several other chapters that might be of particular interest to New Mexican readers are "Residence-based Resorts: Second Homes and Outside Influence" and "Powder and Aplenty for Native and Guest Alike: From Community to Corporate Control." Both chapters document what has happened in Colorado, Idaho, and Wyoming as ski areas have been bought out by mega-corporations and second homes have changed ski communities into destination resorts, where locals can no longer afford to live. While New Mexico's ski areas are still largely family owned, the scenario described by Rothman could easily extend south to our own state. We've already seen many of the same impacts to the small communities downstream from Taos Ski Valley.
Several other recently published books deal with some of the same issues as Devil's Bargains. The University of Arizona Press's Reopening the American West is edited by Hal Rothman and includes pieces by Mike Davis and Dan Flores, two of the West's most provocative writers. The Great New Wilderness Debate is edited by J. Baird Callicott and Michael Nelson.
Copyright 1996-2000 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.