Native American sacred sites

BILL TO INCREASE PROTECTION OF NATIVE AMERICAN SACRED SITES PASSES ASSEMBLY, BUT KEY LOOPHOLE COULD LIMIT ITS EFFECT

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 30, 2013 (Sacramento) – A measure to require that developers consult with Native American tribes before initiating projects that affect tribal sacred sites and cultural resources has unanimously passed the state Assembly by a 56-0 vote. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

The approval of AB 52, authored by Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), came despite opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, which called the measure a “job killer.”

The bill strengthens consultation standards with tribes under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including impacts to tribal sites among the environmental impacts that must be weighed.  But the bill also contains a provision that could allow tribal concerns to be ignored if any one of a list of other benefits is found to outweigh tribal concerns.

CA NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION ISSUES REPORT BACKING VIEJAS AND QUECHAN CLAIMS OF OCOTOILLO WIND SITE HARM TO SACRED SITES

 

Commission urges CA Attorney General to file suit if mitigation requests not met

Update February 12, 2013: A hearing set for February 15 in San Diego has been postponed.

By Miriam Raftery

January 22, 2013 (Ocotillo ) – The California Native American Heritage Commission (CNAH) has issued a report in support of the Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Indians and the Quechan Indian Nation claims that the Bureau of Land Management failed in its duty to protect cultural resources including human remains and sacred sites at the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.  The draf staff report details a disturbing pattern by the BLM, Pattern Energy and a project archaeology consultant of ignoring tribal concerns and failing in its duty to protect cultural resources.

The tribes petitioned the NAHC to investigate and conduct a public hearing to consider tribal requests to declare the entire 12,500 acre site a ‘sanctified cemetery’.  Tribes also seek to have the project halted to assess damage and want agencies to consult with tribes to agree on mitigation measures to prevent further harm to a broader region. The case has broad national significance, with hundreds of millions of acres of public lands slated for renewable energy projects.

The NAHC has cancelled a Public Hearing that had been scheduled at the State of California Building on Front Street in Downtown San Diego for February 15, offering no explanation for the indefinite postponement.