|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
FROM AROUND THE BEND AGAIN... known Blanding citizen once wrote me: “If you think it’s right that anyone has special treatment in this country, you are as nuts as I think you are. You should be fighting for the rights of your own people not Indians.” On another occasion she wrote: “What gives you the right to walk in and demand anything? What right do you have to ask the district for more bilingual programs and more Navajo and Ute Teachers?” But what is it about the Gibbons’ threat that deeply concerns me? My American Heritage dictionary defines threat as “1. An expression to inflict pain, injury, evil, or punishment on a person or thing. 2. An indication of impending danger or harm. 3. A person, thing, or idea regarded as a possible danger; a menace.” Should an actual shooting occur, I would be devastated whether or not I might have been, even distantly, the cause of that action. Most of us would. All of our actions and words are so important. Gibbons’ words could goad others into taking action that they otherwise would refrain from doing. He's walking on dangerous ground and his words and actions themselves may be catastrophic. The late Norman Begay of White Mesa received many threats in standing tough against the system in San Juan County. Before his tragic death, he feared the consequences. He often told me of the friction that went on in the Blanding schools between the races. I found he was right. Gibbons might be right regarding a possible explosive atmosphere at the schools. A high degree of racial tensions is prevalent in our public schools. Native American students are frequently the targets of racial remarks by fellow students and are often provoked into physical fights because of their race. Furthermore, I fear that some school officials fail to take appropriate preventive steps to deal with the racially charged environment. There are many civil rights concerns in San Juan County. Some Native American students face serious civil rights problems that exist at all social and economic levels and in most walks of their lives. Indiam people in general suffer widely the pain and humiliation of bigotry and acts of violence. They confront institutional discrimination in numerous domains, such as places of work and schools, in using public services, and in the administration of justice. : : IN JAN JUAN CO. BY KEN SLEIGHT OUR HERITAGE: We all can differ on environmental and social issues, so what's his bag? DIVISION AND ISOLATION? The following Letter-to-the-Editor appeared in The San Juan Record of July 18, 2001 The writer seems to infer that if the environmentalists do not cease speaking, “Sierra Club incites Native Americans” Dear Editor: - Several weeks ago I commented in a public meeting that a Columbine-like shootin could easily happen in a Blanding school, because of a perpetual critical mass racial balance that exists. Two elder school teachers chimed in, “You have no idea how precarious the situation really is”. Our schools and community have done ‘well in integrating the Anglos and Native American populations. Still there arise racial frictions that could easily explode. So, while we are trying to integrate our community and schools, outside influences strive to incite racial strife. ‘Complaints come to me that the Moab spokesperson for the Sierra Club incites Native Americans against the Anglos to push forward his political agenda to demonize the uranium mill south of Blanding and get it removed. Ute Indians report that he tells them their ills such as diabetes are due to poisoning by the mill. Should a racially incited killing occur at one of our schools, it will be due to racial strife provoked by outside agitators. De Lamar Gibbons, M.D. In the July 18, 2001 issue of the Blue Mountain Panorama and possibly other papers came identical scorching letters to the editors by retired physician and politician De Lamar Gibbons of Blanding (He ran and narrowly lost the state representative seat recently). Just to emphasize the point, let me repeat some of his charges~He accuses “outside influences” of inciting racial strife, and that complaints come to him “that a Moab spokesperson for the Sierra Club incites Native Americans against the Anglos to push forward his political agenda to demonize the uranium mill south of Blanding and get it removed.” Then he states: “Should a racially incited killing occur at one of our schools, it will be due to racial strife provoked by outside agitators.” I take have had anything. with it, I there may be school killings. : this letter personally though it doesn't mention my name. The writer could a number of other persons in mind when he wrote it, but it wouldn't change Normally I would let this pass, but since Mr. Gibbons chose to go public feel I must respond. The writer seems to infer that if the environmentalists do not cease speaking out, there may be school killings. All hell would then be on. the shoulders of the environmentalists and seemingly the locals could wipe their hands clean of the mess. . oe However, Gibbons fails to explain how and why opposition to the dump by our citizens causes: “racial frictions” and, more specifically, how the opposition could cause “a Columbine-like shooting” in a Blanding school. Just what is the association? It is not the young people so much doing the dirty work; it's more often the older set that sets the flame—goading the youth. Gibbons, by his own words, seems to be agitating and stirring up “racial strife” on this issue. The preservation of the environment is his scapegoat. For one thing, there are both whites and Native Americans in San Juan County that are violently opposed to the dumping of foreign hazardous wastes at the White Mesa mill. Illness crosses all lines, and he knows that I'm sure. So who is he really trying to protect? Could he be using this issue to buttress up his own political ambitions? He knows himself that there are hundreds of other reasons for the current student problems. It is not an environmental issue causing this unrest. It's the festering ungodly racism and discrimination that cause the unrest among San Juan students. Maybe he means it as a forewarning. A signal. But it spills over as an attempt at intimidation, a vehicle to inspire fear in anyone that might oppose his ambitions. He would stifle the environmental activists involved by threatening them or trying to inhibit their speech or action on the subject. Merely a show of force. I've dealt with other similar tactics several times throughout the years. Unsigned letters. Late night phone calls. Veiled threats. Overt threats. Death threats. One well- All hell would then be on the shoulders of the environmentalists and... the locals could wipe their hands clean of the mess _ Much can yet be done about civil rights. Certain actions must be taken if progress is to be made. These deal with specific legislative, programmatic and administrative efforts that the Federal, State, local governments and school districts must undertake. We must move aggressively to encourage positive action in these areas. Indeed, the Sierra Club calls for no further dumping of this imported hazardous waste at White Mesa. So have the Navajo and Ute peoples. As the Nuclear Waste Chairman of the Glen Canyon Group of the Sierra Club, I did speak out forcefully concerning the ill effects of the incoming hazardous wastes. Under my direction the Sierra Club did campaign for an epidemiological study to identify the prevalence of cancer and other health problems in our region. And the Sierra Club, under my direction, did officially ask to be heard at a Nuclear Regulatory hearing regarding the Molycorp lead wastes for which International Uranium Company had applied. We also need information as to the distribution of environmental burdens by race/ethnicity, income, poverty level, education, home ownership, and occupation. These are all environmental justice concerns that must be met. ee Asa leader in the Sierra Club, I've met resistence and hostility at many levels. But the militia types concern me the most. Their actions are scary indeed. And if Gibbons, and others like him, continue their diatribe there eventually will be conflict. But for him to lay all of this on the backs of school children is beyond me. Are they to goad the kids into a “Columbine-like shooting?” I don't know. I fear the far-right militia movement. | fear their recent proclamations against the United Nations and their call that all citizens be required to carry fire arms. What a spectacle for our kids to emulate. I do hope that the students of the various county schools are studying and debating the threats or merits in the dumping of hazardous waste at White Mesa. We should encourage this. We need to address the risks our children face at school and in our communities from environmental toxins. We need to examine children's special vulnerability to chemical exposure. We need to highlight examples of schools and playgrounds built on contaminated land and provide guidelines for ensuring that schools are not constructed on abandoned landfills or near heavily polluting industries. We need to document the threat posed by the use of pesticides in our schools and explain the principles of integrated pest management. Their health is at stake. . Deadly chemicals and radiological material from Tonawanda, New York are now being brought into our communities and dumped at White Mesa. This stuff comes from locations near the infamous Love Canal landfill in Niagara Falls, New York where more than 900 families were relocated from their neighborhood after it was contaminated by chemicals. And just this spring, Buffalo, New York's mayor announced that the city would evacuate some eighty families living in the Hickory Woods neighborhood that lay near the Tonawanda and Love Canal toxic waste sites. We do have cause to worry. International Uranium's profiteering has a human cost that no community should have to pay. We need to protect public health over the profit of polluting industries. While promoting its corporate pollution, the company discredits public health and environmental advocates by enlisting so-called “authorities” to speak for it. Public Relations firms have successfully downplayed the hazards of tobacco, carcinogenic.