Hats off to the Sierra Club for taking up the cause of protecting Native lands ("Sacred Landscapes," November/December 2002). We spend millions to meddle in the affairs of the rest of the world, from the Middle East to China, always admonishing other countries for their lack of religious freedom, respect for minorities, or democracy, when our own house is not in order. The destruction of the Afghan Buddhas was met with reprimands from our officials, while ancient religious sites in our own country are being turned into quarries. I would gladly have my tax dollars spent to buy back the contested lands from private holdings, restore it to the rightful owners, and be done with it. Michael A. Siano
Sierras November/December 2002 article "The Salt Woman and the Coal Mine" brought the following picture to mind: How would George W. Bush or Gale Norton react if bulldozers were lined up in front of their places of worship? Would there not be politicians, religious leaders, and citizens causing such an uproar that the desecration would never happen? Does the fact that there are fewer believers in the Native American faith make this interference any more acceptable? Patricia Sciandra
Clarence, New York
THE FOREST PRIMEVAL
In "American Roots" in the November/December 2002 issue, the claim that "a natural ponderosa forest is open and parklike" is not universally true. In the Black Hills National Forest of western South Dakota and northeastern Wyoming for example, research has shown that ponderosa pines naturally grow to great diameters and heights in very dense stands. In such forests, ponderosa "restoration" projects can have devastating ecological effects. We must realize that every forest is shaped by different events, and that logging and thinning are the greatest threats facing our ponderosa forests. Jeremy Nichols
In "The Hidden Life of the Holidays" (November/December 2002) the negativity about having a Christmas tree seems unrealistic and insensitive. It will be a sad day when I cannot go and cut down a tree with my loved ones and bring it home to decorate with ornaments collected over the years. The suggestion to use "a storm-felled branch or a piece of driftwood" is ridiculous and insulting. Pamela Janas
Lets be more radical in greening Christmas. Instead of getting gifts for friends, we could slow down and make more time for them. We could exchange Christmas Gift Exemption Certificates, downloadable from the Web site of Adbusters magazine (www.adbusters.org). Adbusters campaigns to make the day after Thanksgiving "Buy Nothing Day" instead of the first day of the shopping season. "Whose birthday is it, anyway?" asks Alternatives for Simple Living (www.simpleliving.org). They offer to help in putting the holy back into the holidays. What would Jesus do? Would he hurry around the mall buying trinkets on credit? Nan Hildreth
In the November/December 2002 "Good Going," Grandma Gatewood is described as "the 67-year-old grandmother of 23." Why? There are already too many media outlets that gush over how many children or grandchildren a person has. Sierra shouldnt send out the same environmentally destructive message. Richard Huttinger
In the November/December 2002 article "American Roots," we defined bald cypress "knees" incorrectly. They are root projections above the waterline, not the trunk itself. In "Mixed Media" we stated that Galen Rowells first book was In the Throne Room of the Mountain Gods, published in 1977. Its worth noting that Rowell edited and provided the photos for an earlier book, The Vertical World of Yosemite, published by Wilderness Press in 1974.
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EDITOR'S NOTE Full of Trash, and Proud of It
In 1990, Sierra was among the first magazines to add recycled fiber to their pages, and over a decade we gradually moved from 10 to 20 percent post-consumer recycled content. Last issue we proudly ascended to 30 percent, with a custom-made paper from Stora Enso North America in Wisconsin. That boosts Sierras total recycled content, which includes paper-mill and printing wastes, to 50 percent. If you like getting magazines that consume fewer trees, you might spread the news to other publishers. Good-looking, reasonably priced choices are now available, yet only about 5 percent of the nations magazines use any recycled paper at all. Joan Hamilton