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  November/December 2002 Issue
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NATIVE AMERICA
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The Zuni Salt Lake Coalition

The Zuni people are not alone in their efforts to protect their sacred lake. Last July, runners from five Southwest tribes conducted a three-day, 270-mile ceremonial run from Phoenix to the Zuni Pueblo to highlight the struggle. Other organizations pledged their assistance: "The 700,000 members of the Sierra Club stand with the Zuni people," promised Andy Bessler, the Club’s Southwest environmental-justice organizer. A member of the Zuni Salt Lake Coalition, the Club joins the Citizens Coal Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Water Information Network, Tonatierra, the Seventh Generation Fund, and Friends of the Earth in bringing grassroots pressure on government officials, both within New Mexico and nationally. The coalition has organized marches, postcard campaigns, and radio ads in English, Spanish, Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Zuni, asking the Salt River Project to drop its plans for the coal mine and focus instead on alternative energy sources, such as wind and solar.

The runners to the Zuni Pueblo brought with them prayers for the Zuni leaders who then traveled to Washington, D.C., to testify before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on the federal government’s failure to protect Native American sacred sites. (To read the Senate testimony of Zuni governor Malcolm Bowekaty, go to http://indian.senate.gov/2002hrgs/071702hrg/bowekaty.PDF.) In answer to their pleas, Representative Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) has introduced H.R. 5155, a bill calling for the protection of Native American sacred sites, including Zuni Salt Lake. For more information, visit www.zunisaltlakecoalition.org or contact Andy Bessler, P.O. Box 38, Flagstaff, AZ 86002; (928) 774-6103; andy.bessler@sierraclub.org.

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