Home > News > More Headlines > Campaign to protect sacred lake in N.M. ramps up
Printer friendly version
Campaign to protect sacred lake in N.M. ramps up
WEDNESDAY, JULY 2, 2003

Members of New Mexico's Congressional delegation urged the Bush administration on Tuesday to temporarily stop work on a massive coal mine, citing new evidence that suggests a sacred site may be damaged.

In a letter to the Department of Interior, the lawmakers asked acting Bureau of Indian Affairs chief Aurene Martin and Rebecca Watson, the assistant secretary for land and minerals management, to suspend activity at the Fence Lake Mine. Pending studies, they said, demonstrate that the mine will have an impact on water levels at Zuni Salt Lake, considered sacred to a number of tribes in the Southwest.

"Given that these ongoing developments may cause DOI to modify the [mine] plan, a moratorium which stays any further activity with respect to Fence Lake Mine until these hydrologic findings can be verified and analyzed appears to be appropriate," wrote Reps. Steve Pearce (R) and Tom Udall (D), and Sens. Pete Domenici (R) and Jeff Bingaman (D).

The request supports new claims from Zuni Pueblo, which uses the lake for ceremonial purposes. The tribe believes the 18,000-acre strip mine will draw water away from the lake, forever destroying an important religious site.

Last summer, Secretary of Interior Gale Norton approved plans for the 18,000-acre development, located just 10 miles away from the lake. Salt River Project, an Arizona utility company, needs to pump groundwater as part of its efforts but was told to stay away from the Dakota Aquifer because Zuni Pueblo successfuly demonstrated that use of the aquifer will harm the lake.

SRP is also required to conduct additional tests regarding the Atarque Aquifer. New studies by Zuni Pueblo indicate that use of this water source will impact the lake, the lawmakers said in their letter.

The issue is currently being debated before New Mexico's Mining and Mineral Division, which is overseeing the Atarque tests. The tribe believes the work is being done improperly, a contention refuted by SRP and state officials, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported yesterday.

Zuni Salt Lake is gaining national attention as part of a campaign to protect sacred sites throughout the country. Last month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the lake and surrounding areas on its annual list of most endangered places, citing threats from the Fence Lake Mine.

SRP is depending on the mine to deliver power to consumers in Phoenix and other Western cities. The company has agreed to follow the conditions imposed by federal and state officials.

In the fight to protect the lake, Zuni Pueblo is joined by the Pueblos of Acoma and Laguna, the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, the Ramah Band of the Navajo Nation and the All Indian Pueblo Council, which represents 19 Pueblos in New Mexico.

The lake is considered a central part of Zuni religion. Tribal members use salt collected there for ceremonial and domestic use.

The lake and surrounding areas are a mix of tribal, private, state and federally-owned lands. SRP needs full approval from the Department of Interior and the state of New Mexico to proceed with development.

From the 2003 Most Endangered List:
Zuni Salt Lake and Sanctuary Zone (May 2003)

Related Stories:
Zuni Pueblo seeking to rebury remains (06/26)
List highlights threats to sacred and historic sites (05/30)
Zuni Pueblo continues fight against mine (05/16)
BIA hydrologist to investigate mine near sacred lake (04/28)
Zuni Pueblo pushes Norton to reject mine (02/14)
Zuni Pueblo takes mine fight on the road (07/17)
N.M. tribe challenges coal mine approval (6/3)
Zuni Pueblo waits on mine (5/3)
Zuni Pueblo teams up to fight mine (12/3)
Mine near N.M. sacred lake supported (11/14)
No decision made on Zuni mine (10/25)
Group: Norton to approve Zuni mine (10/24)
Bingaman writes Norton about mining near Zuni lake (10/4)
Mine near sacred lake raises concern (9/18)
Zuni Pueblo fighting mine approval (8/29)
Mine developer hopes for approval (6/26)
Pueblo promises lawsuit against mine (6/25)
Mine near sacred lake debated (6/22)
Zuni Pueblo battling coal mine (6/11)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Navajo Nation in shock after arrest made in 11-year-old girl's death (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe assists vets with housing (5/4)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe pushed to hold election (5/4)
Jim Kent: Governor of South Dakota blissfully ignorant about tribes (5/4)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: Who made the decision to kill Anna Mae? (5/4)
Suzan Shown Harjo: Delete 'off the reservation' from our discourse (5/4)
Simon Moya-Smith: Donald Trump sees Indian people going 'wild' (5/4)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Native issues are afterthought for candidates (5/4)
Democrat Bernie Sanders staying in race as last Republicans quit (5/4)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community fails to sell governor on casino (5/4)
Editorial: Work with Cloverdale Rancheria rather than fight casino (5/4)
Lakota Country Times: Governor lectures tribe about sacred lands (5/3)
Native Sun News: Navajo Nation chapter sues tribe over water deal (5/3)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux Reservation plagued by abuse and assault (5/3)
James Giago Davies: Propaganda machine protects racist mascot (5/3)
Cronkite News: Sports teams turn to tribes for naming rights deals (5/3)
Steven Newcomb: Tricking the original nations into reconciliation (5/3)
Rosebud man selected as leader of South Dakota State University (5/3)
Klamath Tribes report results of election for leadership positions (5/3)
Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant (5/3)
Choctaw Nation ordered to pay $11M for casino bus crash deaths (5/3)
Arizona reports 5.1 percent decline in casino revenue from tribes (5/3)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe casino up for discussion at city meeting (5/3)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation hoping to keep gaming lawsuit going (5/3)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes Interior Secretary Jewell to homeland (5/2)
Native Sun News: Family confronts man linked to woman's death (5/2)
Lakota Country Times: State shows cards in fight over sacred site (5/2)
Clara Caufield: Living in a state of emergency on my reservation (5/2)
Mark Trahant: Native newspapers and presidential endorsements (5/2)
Mark Charles: Politicians haven't learned from our genocidal past (5/2)
Kevin Washburn: Land buy-back program benefits Indian Country (5/2)
Ruth Hopkins: Tell indigenous youth that their lives really matter (5/2)
Peter d'Errico: Suicides are outcome of intergenerational trauma (5/2)
Indian Health Service reaches agreements for troubled facilities (5/2)
Native girl survives night alone in forest with help of three dogs (5/2)
Gathering of Nations wraps up with crowning of Miss Indian World (5/2)
University leader doesn't see seal that excludes Natives as racist (5/2)
New bill takes aim at casinos opposed by rival tribes in California (5/2)
Cloverdale Rancheria wins approval of casino land-into-trust bid (5/2)
Mashpee Wampanaog Tribe overcomes hurdles with casino plan (5/2)
Cowlitz Tribe aims to hire locals as casino construction continues (5/2)
Gathering scheduled in June at site of former BIA insane asylum (4/29)
Native Sun News: Tribal college student overcomes challenges (4/29)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ancestors are gone but language lives on (4/29)
Mike Rounds: Eliminate 'hateful' and 'paternalistic' federal laws (4/29)
Harlan McKosato: White privilege fuels Donald Trump's fanbase (4/29)
Indian Health Service faulted for lengthy waits for patient care (4/29)
Mescalero Apache woman to compete for Miss United States (4/29)
Environmental Protection Agency pays little to tribes for spill (4/29)
Measure to declare bison as official mammal ready for Obama (4/29)
John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in debate (4/29)
Chumash Tribe picks Kenneth Kahn as first new leader in years (4/29)
Mille Lacs Band announces upgrades as casino marks 25 years (4/29)
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe sees warmer reception to casino bid (4/29)
Florida racks up legal bills in gaming fight with Seminole Tribe (4/29)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe sues Indian Health Service over shutdown (4/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee approves eight bills at meeting (4/28)
more headlines...

Advertisement

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.