August 02, 2008

Energy first, Indians last

Unearthing energy may mean losing some historyThe consequences of energy exploration for wildlife and air quality have long been contentious in unspoiled corners of the West. But now with the urgent push for even more energy, there are new worries that history and prehistory—much of it still unexplored or unknown—could be lost.

At Nine Mile Canyon in central Utah, truck exhaust on a road to the gas fields is posing a threat, environmentalists and Indian tribes say, to 2,000 years of rock art and imagery. In Montana, a coal-fired power plant has been proposed near Great Falls on one of the last wild sections of the Lewis and Clark trail. In New Mexico, a mining company has proposed reopening a uranium mine on Mount Taylor, a national forest site sacred to numerous Indian tribes.

"We're caught in the middle between traditional culture and archeological research and the valid existing rights of the oil and gas leaseholders," said LouAnn Jacobson, an archeologist by training and the manager of both the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Anasazi Heritage Center here in the four-corners area, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico touch.

Nationally, only about 20 percent of the 193-million-acre national forest system has been surveyed for historical or cultural content, according to a recent report by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. At the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees 261 million acres, including the monument here, the figure is only 3 percent.
Comment:  I said it before and I'll say it again:For the umpteenth time, here's how we "honor" Indians--by giving pretty speeches while their physical culture deteriorates and disappears.

In related news, the Bush administration continues to advocate tax cuts for the rich while pouring money down the drain in Iraq.

Allowing someone to harm these sites is a tragedy and a travesty, if you ask me.
And don't bother telling me about our oil shortages. The solution to that problem is to change our lifestyles, conserve more, and develop alternative energy sources.

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