Dear Native American Heritage Commission and Gov. Brown:
As a Native American in Southern California, and the former historic preservation officer for the Quechan Indian Tribe, I would like to thank the Native American Heritage Commission for reaching an unanimous decision on April 23 to declare the Ocotillo Desert a sacred site, in part, to the Quechan Indian Nation and declare that the approval and development of the Ocotillo Wind Express Facility desecrated this sacred site. In the unrelenting growth of OWEF, your decision is the sole voice of sensibility and decency in a process fraught with racism and cultural condemnation. As a Native American, I thank you for accordingly completing your duty as prescribed under California law.
And regarding Gov. Brown: The relevant tribal governments look forward to working with the California Attorney General, and your administration, to seek the enforcement California laws violated by Pattern Energy and the Bureau of Land Management, resulting from the “fast-track” approval of OWEF. Although your previous statement, that you plan to “crush” the foes of utility scale renewable energy projects, had many Native Americans concerned, we knew that your sense of decency and respect for culture would not allow you to categorize tribal governments, who simply fight to protect the burial places of their ancestors, as one of those “foes” that warranted your opposition. The tribal governments look forward to working with you to preserve the universally accepted values of protecting culture and family resting places.
As you know, the tribal governments in California are not opposed to renewable energy development. They are opposed, however, to the needless development of a project in an area that all stakeholders knew was sacred and held human bones and remains – just as any non-Indian would object to placing wind turbines on the graves of their grandparents. The rational and reasonable decision reached by the NAHC validates the claims that the Quechan were asserting from the very beginning regarding the inappropriateness of OWEF.
To repeat, the relevant tribal governments eagerly anticipate the California Attorney General’s cooperation in punishing those who have violated the sanctity of the Ocotillo Desert, as protected under California law. Let us work together to begin a new chapter of healing after this episode of cultural destruction.
JOHN BATHKE, La Mesa
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