Photo: Chief Caleen Sisk speaks in front of the Crystal Geyser plant, not yet in operation, in Mount Shasta City.

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Winnemem Wintu Chief Leads ‘Water Every Drop Is Sacred’ Rally and March 

by Dan Bacher 
Censored News

Small cascades of cold, pristine water rush out of the hillside at Big Springs, the headwaters of the Sacramento River, as they converge in a clear and shallow pool located in the Mount Shasta City Park. 

Adults and children fill their jugs and bottles with the pristine water that takes 50 years to make it from snow and rain on Mount Shasta down through the volcanic aquifer to where the torrents converge in the park. 

Even in a record drought year like this one, the icy water rushes from the hillside to make its way to Lake Siskiyou, then Lake Shasta and then to the Delta and the ocean. People from throughout the world walk along the creek and hike along shaded trails and footpaths that cross through hedges of horsetail fern and willow and across small bridges. 

As people hiked to and relaxed besides Big Springs, Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, and hundreds of environmentalists and activists from all over California and Oregon held a rally, the “Water Every Drop Sacred” event, in this scenic park at the Sacramento River headwaters. After the rally ended, Sisk and tribal members led a march and protest of 160 people to the plant. 

The Tribe is opposed to the planned opening of the plant, closed after it was operated by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company and other corporations for years, in accordance with its commitment to protect and preserve the Headwaters of the river, the Mount Shasta watershed and sacred tribal lands. 

Otsuka Holding Co, a Japanese pharmaceutical conglomerate, owns Crystal Geyser. The event began with a performance of Iroha, a traditional Japanese Taiko drum group 

Performances by Sawako Ama, Rieko Ivaska and Mao highlighted the fact that Japanese residents and tourists are not pleased about the plans to open another bottling plant just 2000 feet from the headwaters, according to Vicki Gold, of Water Flows Free in a news release. 

“Crystal Geyser is already entrenched in Weed, CA, just 8 miles north of Mt. Shasta, reportedly extracting 1.5 million gallons of water daily, much of it headed for Japan in single use plastic bottles with a huge carbon footprint,” said Gold. “Meanwhile, Japan has abundant water of its own.” 

Signs at the rally proclaimed, “Want water?, Tap Mt. Fuji!,” “The Truth Is…No one owns water!,” “No Dam Raise,” “Water Is Life” and “Help Protect Mt Shasta Sacred Waters 4 Next 7 Generations.” 

Chief Caleen Sisk, the keynote speaker, spoke movingly about the sacredness of water and the threat to the environment and people posed by controversial plans to raise the Shasta Dam and build Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels. 

“This spring, the headwaters of the Sacramento, is sacred to us,” said Chief Sisk. “Archeologists once said they couldn’t find any evidence of indigenous people around this spring. That’s because our ancestors believe the site was so sacred that they would leave nothing behind when they prayed there. It is for the sacred beings – it is not for us to use.” 

“Mount Shasta (where the Sacramento and McCloud and other rivers come from) is sacred. The sacred being brings us a message that the plant can’t be here. And if we’re not successful here, the mountain may take care of it instead,” emphasized Sisk. 

She emphasized that the pending plan to open the Crystal Geyser plant in Mount Shasta is part of a large water grab by corporate interests, including the federal plan to raise Shasta Dam and the Brown administration scheme to shop water to agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies. 

“The twin tunnels will be built to transfer water from the headwaters to agribusiness farming in a desert. They are large enough to divert the entire Sacramento River in them,” said Chief Sisk. 

She said that if the tunnels were built it would destroy the largest estuary on the West Cost of the Americas, a nursery for Chinook salmon, steelhead, green and white sturgeon, Delta and longfin smelt and numerous other fish species. 

“If they kill the estuary, what will it mean? When the estuary is cut off from the fresh water, the estuary will disappear and no longer be a nursery,” said Chief Sisk. 

Sisk also discussed the Tribe’s long struggle to bring the original run of winter run Chinook salmon back to the McCloud River above Shasta Dam. Sisk and Tribal Members journeyed to New Zealand in 2009 to conduct ceremonies with the Maori on the Rakaira River, where the descendents of the original winter run chinook salmon from the McCloud, transplanted from the Livingston Stone Fish hatchery over 100 years ago, now thrive. 

“The Maori are ready – they said they have 400,000 eyed eggs ready to be planted in the McCloud…But the scientists from the Bureau of Reclamation said they are not sure whether these are the same fish because they have no DNA from the McCloud River winter Chinooks to match the DNA of the New Zealand fish. Yet all of the records show that these fish came from this river!” 

Chief Sisk has often said, referring to the essential role of water to life itself. “People can live without oil, they can live without gold, but nothing can live without water.” 

When the march arrived at the plant, Sisk appealed to Otsuka Pharmaceuticals in Japan to reconsider their plans and not open the facility. She also suggested that opponents of the plant make a trip to Japan to convince the company’s owners to not open the plant in a manner similar to how members of the Hoopa Valley, Yurok and Karuk Tribes went to Scotland to convince Scottish Power, the owner of the Klamath River Dams, to decommission the dams in order to restore fish to the headwaters. 

Gold estimated that 500 people attended the event throughout the day, with 200 present at any one time. 

The speakers addressed the threats posed to our food sources, potable water supply, and ecosystem posed by water bottling and other water commodification schemes. 

In addition to rallying against Crystal Geyser’s pending plant in Mt. Shasta, speakers at the event discussed their opposition to Calpine’s proposed industrial geothermal plant in the Medicine Lake Highlands that the Pit River Tribe has been fighting for many years. Both of these industrial developments threaten water quantity and quality in the area and have been the target of grassroots campaigns. 

Lucas RossMerz, of Sacramento River Preservation Trust, addressed the importance of keeping the water in the river to all those who use it for recreation, residential use and farming. 

He cited the aphorism, “I have Pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will,” as his philosophy in addressing the many problems of the Sacramento River watershed. 

“No matter how bad the numbers of fish and habitat get, my heart won’t let me quit,” he said. “So I show up to work every day and do my best!” 

Reverend Amanda Ford, M.A., of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, who addressed human rights issues surrounding water, told the story about how she found Crystal Geyser bottled water in her mom’s refigerator when she went home to Michigan recently. “Our message has to reach people like my mom, who view water as as a commodity,” Ford said. 

Mauro Oliveira, of SOL Communications, emphasized, “The Sierra Nevada and Mount Shasta snowpacks are the lowest in 500 years. Our mission is to protect our water, our watersheds, oceans, all beings and their habitat. The oceans, rivers and all life forms are suffering from plastic pollution and consequent endocrine disruption. We have to change our habits and question every action of polluting industry.” 

Gold pointed out the importance of people uniting to stop the opening of the Crystal Geyser plant. 

“It’s time to join forces in an alliance to protect our local water,” she said. “We must continue to put pressure on Crystal Geyser, Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors, the City Council of Mt. Shasta and other public agencies. We are making a stand here, now, on Mount Shasta.” 

“Our friends in Oregon at Cascade Locks are facing Nestle; British Columbia is facing new exploitation by Nestle,” Gold explained. “The plastic pollution is choking our oceans, our landfills, our rivers. Single use plastic water bottles is an idea whose time has clearly passed. Boycott bottled water.” 

She also urged people to ask Calpers (the California Public Employee Retirement System, largest in the world), to divest its holdings in Otsuka, Nestle, CocaCola amd Pepsi. 

“We must vote with our pocket books. This is time for the voice of the public, speaking for our fragile planetary ecosystem, to be heard,” she concluded. 

The speakers at the five hour event also included Sherry Ackerman, PhD., who revealed why multinational conglomerates head for California and New York in search of water, “blue gold,” at the pristine mountain source; Konrad Fisher, Klamath Riverkeeper; Bob McFarland, California Guild (formerly California State Grange); Geneva Omann and Roslyn McCoy of W.A.T.E.R.; Elaine Hsiao, PhD. candidate; Matt Isler, Sacred Economics; Phoenix Lawhon Isler of the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center (MSBEC); Bob Saunders of the Crunch Nestle Alliance; and Dan Axelrod, PHD, Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan on the EIR. 

Entertainers featured Saratone, Diane Patterson, Al Torre, Jenn Rogar, Sawako Ama and Rieko Ivaska with Iroha, Jenn Rogar who performed songs about love and respect for water. 

This event followed the lawsuit filed on August 23 by the environmental group “We Advocate Thorough Environmental Review” (W.A.T.E.R.) against Siskiyou County and Crystal Geyser Water Company, whose corporate offices are in Napa County. The group has demanded an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for 2 years. The lawsuit requests Crystal Geyser Water Company meet California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) standards and requirements. 

On September 16, Crystal Geyser, through their PR Firm, Burson-Marsteller, stated it will comply with the EIR process. 

“However, EIR’s don’t always present the entire picture of the effects of an industry’s environmental impact,” said Gold. “Our event shed light on the issues of water bottling overall, plastic waste resulting from bottling, the overall effects and impact on the environment, and the irrationality of bottling water during the time of the worst drought in California’s history.” 

The event was organized by Vicki Gold of Water Flows Free and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water and sponsored by the Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center. 

For more information, contact: Vicki Gold (530) 926.4206, Mauro Oliveira (530) 356-7343, Bob Saunders (916) 370.8251, or Angelina Cook or Phoenix Lawhon Isler, Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center, (530) 926-5655 (office).

§Caleen Sisk and Rieke Ivaska
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Chief Caleen Audrey Sisk with Taiko drummer Rieko Ivaska at rally against Crystal Geyser in Mount Shasta on Saturday, September 26. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Michael Tuiimyali
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Michael Tuiimyali, Winnemem Wintu, marching on Crystal Geyser. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Misa Joo and Lisa Olivera
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Misa Joo holds the “Water Is Life” sign at the rally while Lisa Olivera displays the “Protect the Salmon” sign. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Big Springs
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Big Springs, located in the Mount Shasta City Park, is considered the headwaters of the Sacramento River. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Taiko Group
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Iroha, a traditional Japanese Taiko drum group, performs at the rally. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Jenn Rogar
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Jenn Rogar of Sacramento performs a song at the rally. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Diane Patterson
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Diana Patterson, singer/songwriter, sings another song at the rally. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Art and Revolution
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Art and Revolution came from Sacramento to perform at the event. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Lucas RossMerz
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Lucas RossMerz, of the Sacramento River Preservation Trust, said, “No matter how bad the numbers of fish and habitat get, my heart won’t let me quit.” Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Reverend Amanda Ford
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Reverend Amanda Ford, M.A., of the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water, addressed human rights issues surrounding water. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§From Mauna Kea to Mount Shasta
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Defending sacred Mauna Kea in Hawaii and sacred Mount Shasta in California. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Signs in Park
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Signs in the the park during the rally. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Caleen speaks at rally
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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Chief Caleen Sisk gave the keynote speech at the rally. Photo Bay Dan Bacher.

§Vicki Gold
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Vicki Gold of Water Flows Free, event organizer, speaks about the battle to prevent Crystal Geyser from opening its plant. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Crowd shot
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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The crowd listens to Chief Sisk speak. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§In front of the plant
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

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The Winnemem Wintu and environmentalists in front of the Crystal Geyser plant. Photo by Dan Bacher.

§Big Springs Creek
by Dan Bacher Thursday Oct 1st, 2015 7:55 PM

Big Springs Creek just downstream of where the spring water pours out of the rock.

Editor’s Note: Today’s feature is a chronicle of the whirlwind of protests held in Ciudad Juarez and El Paso the weekend of September 25-27, 2015, on the first anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 Mexican university students.

October 1, 2015

Frontera NorteSur Feature
Censored News

Standing Up for the Disappeared in the Paso del Norte

As the first days of fall set descended on the borderland, strong messages echoed in the streets of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and neighboring El Paso, Texas. Among them:

“They took them alive! We want them back alive!” “Ayotzi lives! The struggle continues!” “They are our daughters, not merchandise!” “Why do they kill us if we are the hope of Latin America!”

For 43 hours, from September 25 to September 27, hundreds of human rights activists, relatives of disappeared persons and concerned citizens  remembered- and protested-the first anniversary of the forced disappearance of 43 Mexican male students from the Raul Isidro Burgos Teachers College of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, at the hands of police and paramilitary forces.

Three students and three civilian bystanders were also killed by gunmen during the attack unleashed against the Ayotzinapa students in the city of Iguala, Guerrero, on the evening of September 26, 2014.

One year later the Paso del Norte has not forgotten. There were vigils, protest marches, film showings, street theater, mural inaugurations and demands for justice at consular offices in Juarez and El Paso. At Juarez’s Casa de Adobe Museum located on the Mexico-U.S. borderline, residents of the border sister cities painted the number 43.

“We ask what would happen if 43 students from any university in the U.S. disappeared?” pondered border writer and activist Juan Carlos Martinez. “Perhaps Obama wouldn’t be in office.”

But late September’s bout of activism went beyond the Ayotzinapa issue per se, touching on many local cases of both men and women who were forcibly abducted over the years and never seen again.
“There are not only 43 disappeared people in this country,” stressed Leticia Ruiz, Juarez poet and an activist with the newly-formed Paso del Norte Regional Popular Assembly. “There are more than 20,000 nationwide-1,500 in the state of Chihuahua alone.”

In Juarez and Chihuahua, forced disappearance is an old story that seemingly never ends. In attendance for the Juarez Ayotzinapa anniversary events, Judith Galarza, executive secretary for the Latin American Federation of Relatives Associations of Detained and Disappeared Persons (Fedefam), recalled her sister Leticia Galarza, who was detained and vanished by Mexican counterinsurgency  forces back in January 1978.

Originally from Juarez, Leticia Galarza was a member of the old September 23 Communist League who had an infant daughter at the time of her detention.
Although the government never acknowledged Leticia’s whereabouts, Judith Galarza and her compatriots sniffed out documentation of the young woman’s secret detention in Mexico’s National Archive, including a photo of Leticia undergoing torture.

More than three decades later, Leticia’s daughter is now a 37-year-old woman who is suing the Mexican state over her mother’s disappearance, Galarza told FNS.

Leticia Galarza disappeared during the Dirty War, roughly the years from the late 1960s to the early 1980s when the Mexican government dropped the weight of its security apparatus against guerrillas and dissidents, real or imagined.

Repressive practices and human rights atrocities mastered during the Dirty War  later resurfaced in the so-called drug war, the wave of feminicides which were first documented in Juarez during the early 1990s and, more recently, with Ayotizinapa and other politically-tainted cases of murder and disappearance.

“This is the same connection,” Galarza observed, reflecting on parallels between the Dirty War and today. “When we started our work for the presentation of the disappeared, the first disappearances were in Guerrero.”

Forty years later more families search for loved ones. Supported by the Juarez-based Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, relatives of nine men from Juarez who disappeared in different parts of Mexico participated in the pro-Ayotzinapa events. Alejandro Duran, for instance, marched through downtown Juarez with a large photo of his brother, Cesar Gonzalo Duran, who was 27 years old when he disappeared in the state of Chihuahua in July 2011.

“Family members have organized to look for him, the government doesn’t look for him,” contended Duran.
The experience of Cesar Gonzalo Duran’s family is far from unique.

Members of Judith Galarza’s organization were pioneers in the emergence of family investigators who pound the pavement and ask the hard questions countless official investigations have kept hushed.

“And I still hurt like the first day my daughter disappeared,” said Jose Luis Castillo, tears welling up in his eyes as he spoke to a crowd gathered outside the Juarez delegation of the Office of the Federal Attorney General (PGR) for an overnight vigil in memory of the 43 Ayotzinapa students. For more than six years, Castillo has searched tirelessly and demanded answers about his daughter Esmeralda, who was 14 years old when she went missing in downtown Juarez one spring day back in 2009.

Early this year, Chihuahua state law enforcement authorities named Esmeralda Castillo as one of the numerous murdered girls and young women, suspected victims of sex trafficking, recovered from the rural Juarez Valley between 2011 and 2013.

Castillo, however, is not convinced that a body part identified as belonging to Esmeralda is truly hers or even means that she is necessarily dead.

Instead, Castillo, who was dragged away by military police from an event attended by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto in Juarez last winter, keeps pressing for answers and urges others to take up the cause of the disappeared. “All that remains for the bad ones to triumph in our city is for the good ones to stay quiet,” he said.

A riveting work of street theater was performed as part of the Ayotzinapa anniversary actions.  Held at the downtown Plaza de Armas as the moon rehearsed its blood spectacle the following evening, the performance portrayed three male actors dressed up as police and soldiers systematically subduing, abducting and killing young women and male actors.

Titled, “Uniformed Delinquency,” the open-air play attracted a large crowd that was emotionally drawn into the shouts and cries of the actors.  A large banner draped over the crowd read: “If there is no justice for the people, there will be no peace for the government.”

As the trio of meanies proceeded to beat and kidnap their victims, poet Leticia Ruiz’s verses about Ayotzinapa thundered through a sound system:

“Where are our children who pain us?”

We want their infinite eyes shining at our side

We want their hands of the universe sharing our steps

We want them alive with us flowering an infertile land…”

At the play’s conclusion, a character dressed up as President Enrique Pena Nieto appeared but was grabbed by a towering Uncle Sam on stilts who quickly latched on the puppet strings.

Publicly staging a play like “Uniformed Delinquency” in Juarez is not the same as  many other places, especially just across the Rio Grande in the U.S. where  forced disappearance is an abstract concept for most. But not too long ago in Juarez,  events similar to the scenes depicted in “Uniformed Delinquency” really happened on a frequent basis and, in fact, on the very streets adjacent to the Plaza de Armas.

After the jarring play, relatives of the disappeared and their supporters marched down Avenida Juarez chanting and displaying placards with messages like: “What is the harvest of a country that plants bodies?” Or, simply: “If they were your sons?”
Eyeballing the approaching crowd, one of the street singers who now enliven Avenida Juarez suddenly changed his tune and belted out an improvisation, to a thunderclap of applause: “We are missing 43….”
Again, the geography and pre-history of the march were not abstract matters, as protesters filed past buildings, businesses and piles of rubble haunted by past murders and disappearances-an old hair stylist’s school, the shut-down Club 15, the ruins of Norma’s club, Club Sinaloaense, the Kentucky Club, etc.

The march halted at the emblematic Cross of Nails, erected many years ago at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge connecting Juarez with El Paso in memory of feminicide victims and more recently wrapped in a red-stained Mexican flag bearing the word “Justice.” Gero Fong, longtime Juarez revolutionary theorist and activist, led the marchers in counting “1..2..3…4….43!”

Fong delivered a statement signed by university students in gender studies, the Paso del Norte Human Rights Center, Pastoral Obrera, the Revolutionary Socialist League, Morena and others that charged the Mexican and U.S. governments with complicity in human rights violations, in a reverse posture on the notion of “shared responsibility” in the drug war as popularized by the Obama administration and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In particular, the statement zeroed in on the aid delivered to Mexican governments under the Merida Initiative of the Bush and Obama administrations. “The funds, arms and technical assistance received has been used to control the Mexican civil population, particularly against the groups that are not in agreement with the corruption and servility of Mexican government leaders…,” the declaration read.

The message contended that the deployment of the Mexican army, the lynch pin of the government’s so-called drug war, has resulted in “multiple cases of human rights violations” that range from summary executions to forced disappearances and sexual abuse.

A day earlier, on September 25, Juarez activists delivered the statement to the U.S. Consulate in Juarez. Simultaneously, fellow activists across the border staged a march from the University of Texas at El Paso campus to the Mexican Consulate near downtown. The participants included representatives of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, Centro Sin Fronteras, La Mujer Obrera and others.

A three person delegation from the protest group met with Mexican Consul Jacob Prado but emerged with sullen faces. “How can we have trust if students haven’t shown up after a year?” longtime labor activist Guillermo Glenn told the waiting protesters as he tore up a statement on Ayotizinapa given to him by  Mexican Consulate personnel.

“There’s no information the Mexican or U.S. governments can give us even after a year.”

Another protester who met with Prado, Centro Sin Fronteras Board member Rosa Maria Romana, told FNS: “It’s not enough. You can find these terrorists in the Middle East, and they can’t find these students?”

Mexican Consulate staff provided FNS with a copy of the official statement in question, which had been issued by President Pena Nieto’s office September 24 immediately after a Mexico City meeting between the President and his top officials and parents of the Ayotzinapa students.

The statement quoted President Pena Nieto:  “We are on the same side and work with the same objective: To know what happened to your children and punish all and each one of the guilty parties. “

According to the lengthy message, the Mexican government has been very pro-active on behalf of the 43 missing students. Among other measures, the document cites the detention of 111 individuals implicated in the mass abduction, and credits Pena Nieto for instructing the appropriate authorities to “incorporate the recommendations and lines of investigation” recently outlined by the GIEI, an independent panel of international experts tasked by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights with probing the Ayotzinapa affair.

However, the statement left unclear whether the Mexican government will finally agree to a key GIEI demand of allowing the investigators to question soldiers from the army’s 27th Infantry Battalion who were present in Iguala  the night the students were attacked.

Perhaps significantly, the presidential statement made no mention of the “historic truth” proclaimed by (now-ex) Federal Attorney General Jesus Murrillo Karam earlier this year which claimed that the 43 students were rapidly slaughtered and burned into ashes at the town dump of Cocula, Guerrero.

As part of its own investigation, the GIEI enlisted a fire expert who countered the incineration story.

Pena Nieto’s September 24 statement disclosed that the President had ordered the PGR to establish a special prosecutor for disappeared persons. The announcement met with a decidedly cool reception from Juarez activists, who have long criticized the records of special state prosecutors for women’s murders in the border city.

“This is another institution like the state prosecutor’s office for women’s murders,” said activist Yesica Morales. “They don’t function.”

In the national Mexican context, numerous precedents exist of special prosecutions coming up empty-handed or falling way short of their objectives.

The most prominent examples include investigations of the Tijuana assassination of 1994 presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio; the 1995 police massacre of 17 unarmed small farmers at Aguas Blancas, Guerrero; and the probe into the ugly entrails of the Dirty War conducted during the administration of Vicente Fox (2000-2006), which despite its ample accumulation of evidence of crimes committed by ex-presidents, military authorities and high-ranking police officials, did not result in successful prosecutions.

In all the aforementioned cases, issues of corruption or irregularities like missing files and evidence contaminated the legal processes.

Though the first anniversary of Ayotzinapa came and went, activists in the Paso del Norte are not resting. In El Paso, activists have been delivering letters and petitions to the Mexican Consulate since last year, said Rosa Maria Romana.

The movement demands the cancellation of the Merida Initiative, and connects Ayotzinapa  with police militarization in the United States and the repression of migrants. “It’s the same body of a snake with two heads,” she said.

A new initiative, the Paso del Norte Regional Popular Assembly, was formed at the invitation of the Ayotzinapa parents and seeks to establish a statewide base, according to member Leticia Ruiz. The group is supporting a Friday morning march October 2 from Juarez’s Alta Vista High School in honor of the students massacred by Mexican soldiers and paramilitary gunmen during the Mexico City Olympic games on October 2, 1968.

According to the Popular Assembly, the event will also remember the Ayotzinapa students as well as the young people massacred at a house party in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood of Juarez in January 2010.

Ironically, the Ayotzinapa students were reportedly planning to attend October 2 commemorations in Mexico City when they were forcibly disappeared last year.

For photos of the Ayotzinapa anniversary events in Juarez and other places check out:

-Kent Paterson

Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Center for Latin American and Border Studies
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

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By Robert Lundahl
“Who Are My People?” Debuts at Three Film Festivals

When Green is Not Sustainable: Native Elders Fight Energy Development on Sacred Lands in the West
“Who Are My People?” by documentary filmmaker, Robert Lundahl, poses a conundrum for audiences. How can energy plants proposed to mitigate atmospheric carbon and fight climate change be so bad for the environment and for people? The film is revealing of contradictions in federal policy and law, and the difficulties Native Americans face in protecting antiquities. 
The film has been accepted to three festivals. The Joshua Tree International Film Festival, and the Tulalip Tribe’s Hibulb Film Festival, where it played in September 2015, and the Red Nation Film Festival in Santa Monica/Los Angeles, to be scheduled in November. Check the website for the schedule as it is announced – DVD copies are available for education/libraries and for home use, on-line at and Public performance rights are available. Please email the filmmaker
To Alfredo Figueroa, Chemehuevi cultural monitor and founder of La Cuna de Aztlån Sacred Sites Protection Circle, federal decisions to site energy plants in the desert are nothing short of disaster.
The giant Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, outside Las Vegas, has been shown to devastate the birds of the Pacific Flyway. It is also built atop the route of sacred pilgrimage, atop altars, and cultural resources, on the old Salt Song Trail, sacred to the Southern Paiute, Chemehuevi and Uto-Aztecan peoples.
The National Congress of American Indians has stated in its Resolution #LNK-12-036:

“Whereas, BLM, as a result of its fast-track process, has failed to conduct meaningful consultation with Tribes, particularly with CRIT (Colorado River Indian Tribes), and has taken actions that violate federal laws which include provisions designed to protect Tribes’ sacred places and cultural resources, such as the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedures Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act…”

Dr. Alan Hoffman, advisor to 5 presidents, states: “What all this comes down to in my mind is a clash of values: a people’s religious beliefs and culture (which are hard to argue with) vs larger societal issues related to energy and climate. Not an easy balance to achieve.”
Who Are My People? features a scene in which Figueroa, Mojave Hereditary Chief Reverend Ron Van Fleet, and Chemehuevi Elder, Phillip Smith, lead a group to the top of Metamorphic Rock, where trails converge, just outside Ivanpah’s boundaries.
Here are triangular altars, shaped like arrowheads, that point in the direction of Clark Mountain to the West and Spirit Mountain to the East. Clark Mountain is the site of purifying hot springs, and Spirit Mountain is the center of creation for all Yuman and Hokan language speakers. The mountain, a Traditional Cultural Property, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 8, 1999.
In the film, Lowell John Bean, Ph.D. explains that for all cultures, “history becomes religion,” and he places Native opposition to the building of large, renewable, solar plants into context, as the tribes of many different language groups fought “Termination” policies of the US Government in the 1950s, and residential schools in the 1960’s, to which Indian youth were compelled go. The residential schools forbade tribal children from speaking their language, and according to Bean, enacted a deliberate policy of the US government intended to “deculturate” tribal peoples.
For filmmaker Lundahl, who made two previous films with Indian communities in Washington State, “Unconquering the Last Frontier,” and “Song on the Water, “Who Are My People?” carries on a commitment to recording the history of the interactions of tribes and the federal government over energy. “I had worked on a documentary dealing with the conversion of military bases in California, in 2009, and was introduced to CAre, Californians for Renewable Energy. CAre asked if I would consult to help the organization prepare a legal complaint v. the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, and six of the first 10 Utility-Scale renewable energy plants in California.”
Plaintiffs Alfredo Figueroa (Chemehuevi/Yaqui), Reverend Ron Van Fleet (Mojave Hereditary Chief), and Phillip Smith (Chemehuevi), became the subjects of the film.
Lundahl’s camera follows these Native Elders (Figueroa worked alongside Cesar Chavez and with the UFW, United Farm Workers), and all, including Quechan elder Preston Arrow-Weed, are known as “Ward Valley Veterans” for their actions in stopping the construction of a nuclear dump site along the Colorado River at Ward Valley.
“Who Are My People?” is a work of history chronicling a generation of Indigenous leaders who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s; now elders, they fight what is perhaps their last battle.
As we see in the film, these elders have quite a bit of fight left in them. Two of the projects that impact tribal lands come to an inglorious end for developers before the camera’s lens. 
For more information about “Who Are My People?” visit For more information about filmmaker Robert Lundahl and RL | A visit
Robert Lundahl

Robert Lundahl & Associates
Skype: robertlundahlfilms


Protesters gather on ADOTS pre bid meeting

By Akimel O’odham Youth Collective
Censored News

The protesters gathered in the front entrance holding signs, chanting, and singing O’odham songs. The group tried to enter the building but Mesa police officers and private security block the entrance. The protest forced attendees of today’s pre-bid meeting to exit out of another door, even as the protest continued to march, trying to find other ways into the building.

” Our actions and presence today is in an example to the purposed corporations that it is wrong to destroy our sacred places,” said Deran Martinez, 25 from the Village of Vah KI. “It’s huge part of our culture (South Mountain) and we won’t go silently.”
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Mohawk Nation News: DESPERATE POPE

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized


Posted: September 27, 2015 in Uncategorized