indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

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
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Tribe threw away late veteran's memorabilia (10/31)
Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election (10/31)
NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention (10/31)
Red Lake News: Tribe welcomes Sen. Tester and Sen. Franken (10/31)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work (10/30)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
Ask the Expert: Why can't I win at tribal casino slot machines? (10/29)
Native Sun News: Event commemorates Sand Creek Massacre (10/28)
Erma Vizenor: Join tribes for protest at NFL game in Minnesota (10/28)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation helps build tomorrow's leaders (10/28)
Ruth Hopkins: Tribes need to raise awareness of breast cancer (10/28)
Navajo Nation election officials refuse to delay upcoming vote (10/28)
more headlines...

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.