The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989

 
THE GAUNTLET

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letters, opinions, editorials

re: US 550 connectivity proposal through indigenous lands threatens long-term survival

This letter addresses the County line article “Easing Traffic Congestion,” put forth by Commissioner Jack Thomas, though my concerns address a much broader audience. Thomas is but one man, doing his job as a commissioner. The issue, though, involves more at stake than he alone can be responsible for.

Obviously, the movement of traffic through the Bernalillo-Rio Rancho area is a principal concern, and by looking at the US 550 Connectivity Study, presented in June, obvious key issues have been identified. However, there remain issues that necessitate comprehensive acknowledgement and hold a level of importance greater than the convenience of commuters or the promise of “tremendous economic development opportunities” that Thomas and all others involved must consider.

Proposing corridors to alleviate traffic problems that suggest placing a major thoroughfare through the heart of an indigenous community, through traditional homelands, is an insult. In fact, I perceive any US 550 connectivity proposal through indigenous lands as an outright threat to our long-term survival and to the cultural tenets that entrust us as stewards to these traditional lands. Degradation of tribal residents' lifestyle, loss of cultural resources, and the fragmentation and reduction of tribal land base for the sake of commuters is obscene. Proposing that we accept a reduction of air quality, inducing a threat to the health of our community members, an increase in audible noise and litter, the potential for hazmat and vehicle fluids to contaminate our land and water sources is much too great a trade-off for the convenience of others. The successful efforts of tribal programs and staff to restore and enhance wildlife habitats, native flora, and the natural environment would be snubbed. Problems extant in “vibrant” communities are not for ours. To clarify, Rio Rancho's future is not our future.

More and more we see that those involved in the future and growth of Rio Rancho are often not from New Mexico, and have no concept, apparently, about New Mexico's indigenous people, about what a homeland, heritage, or a discernable past means. I stand clear on this issue that residents from any indigenous community proposed to be affected by the hindsight of development planning and the continued cyclic application of aggressive expansionism will not be made to bear the consequences and detrimental effects of proposed fixes.

—M. GARCIA, Santa Ana Pueblo


re: tribal land is homeland, not throughway

I read the article in the December Signpost by Jack Thomas, chairman of the Sandoval County Commission, and felt the need to respond. I am a member of the Pueblo of Santa Ana and have lived here all of my life. This is my homeland and I cherish the land that I live on. This is where I will spend the rest of my life, surrounded by the beauty of the mesas, the bosque, and the rangeland. I begin each day viewing the mesas and surrounding landscape and embrace the beauty of the land. This is my tradition, my culture, my values, and my heritage.
I consider myself fortunate to live in a rural area where we can still see the stars at night and wake up to peace and quiet in the morning. The tradition of our people is to always leave the land the way we came into it for the future generations to come.

I feel that the Northwest Loop, or 550 Bypass, as it has been called, running through our pueblo will bisect our land and take away from our people the peace and quiet of our homeland. Rio Rancho's sprawl is not our problem to solve. Rio Rancho, the City of Vision, should have planned for the amount of people they are bringing into their urban sprawl community. We are not responsible for solving their growth problems.

This is our homeland. We can not just pick up and move away. I do not want to live the rest of my life caught in a triangle of three major highways. The noise and pollution from car exhaust, road spills, and trash would destroy the beauty of our homeland and the values we enjoy and have a right to continue to enjoy forever. Our future generations deserve to inherit the land the way it is now.

All the money in the world can not bring back the land once it is lost to development and roadways. I oppose the Northwest Loop/550 Bypass and urge those in charge of transportation planning and growth management to look for alternative solutions.

—LAURA PENA, TRIBAL MEMBER, Santa Ana Pueblo


re: No trespassing on Indian land

The article in the Sandoval Signpost “County Line-Easing Traffic Congestion,” by Jack Thomas, Chairman, Sandoval County Commission, Vol 18. No.12, December 2006, whereby Mr. Thomas states that Sandoval County has approached the Pueblo of Santa Ana regarding possible access across Pueblo land. If these discussions are successful, the Northwest Loop would connect with I-25 North of Bernalillo.

As Indian people, we have aggressively pursued the “right to self-determination.” Our ancestors made sacrifices so that we might retain what little land we now hold. Now, it is our responsibility to carry-on that struggle to protect our tribal lands!
It is no easy task, the challenge is before us as tribal members of Santa Ana Pueblo to ensure that our future is not “negotiable,” just to ease heavy traffic on U.S. 550, N.M. 528 and throughout Sandoval County.

Sandoval County’s traffic congestion deficiencies need to be addressed back to the county for other solutions! This is not a tribal problem!

Historically, the treatment of Native peoples of America, in which we were systematically and violently divested of our lands in the name of Manifest Destiny!
Indian people with “self-respect” would defend the (2) two most important things: “the land” and “the people!” What we say does matter! We are responsible for this sacred land!

The Santa Ana Tribal Council in 2003 voted against any further discussions or feasibility studies with Sandoval County regarding this issue. The Tribal Council did the right thing to defend and protect our sovereignty.

Mr. Thomas, what you are saying is, “appropriate economic development will only alleviate your worst fears.” “Pay the Indians off and move on!”

The Federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 states, “no Indian Tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall make or enforce any law prohibiting the free exercise of religion or abridging the freedom of speech or the press. Today, I address this issue on U.S. 550 and exercise my “First Amendment” right to free speech.

—MANUEL R. CRISTOBAL, SANTA ANA TRIBAL COUNCILMAN, Santa Ana Pueblo


re: thanks to all who made Optimist Club’s Blessings Day a success

The spirit of Christmas is alive and well in New Mexico, especially in Sandoval County.

It is said every year that Christmas is a time of giving, but this year was an exception.

The Optimist Club de Sandoval, again this year, did their Blessings Day project. We were able to provide fifty-two families with food, new and gently used clothing, and new toys. We could not have done it without the help of the generous and supportive communities of Placitas and Bernalillo, who gave generously of products and monies. We would like to thank the Rotary Club for their generous donation; the parishioners of Mission de San Antonio, who graciously took names of children to gift from the Giving Tree; the Jardineros de Placitas, who donated all the turkeys; neighbors and friends who provided gifts for entire families; people we don’t know, too numerous to name here, who reached into their pockets and donated.

All of this came together on December 16, when there was a wrapping party. The wrappers, who wrapped and bagged the gifts, gave four hours of their valuable time. On December 20 the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Department took time out of their schedule to make deliveries to all the families.

How do we express our gratitude for such generosity? There is no way other than a simple thank-you. So we will say to all who participated in Blessings Day, Know that the spirit of Christmas lives in your heart all year. God bless.

—FRAN STEPHENS, OPTIMIST CLUB DE SANDOVAL


re: finding face

Dear Friends Back East:
You have chosen to respond to my description of the wonderful spiritual and mystical qualities that help comprise New Mexico life and culture by asking if I have yet seen the faces of religious figures in my food—as periodically happens to other people, including the individual who sold the grilled cheese sandwich on eBay some time ago.

I suspect you are making fun of me, but am uncertain. Perhaps you're just displeased that you've yet to see the faces of the Rockettes—or perhaps John Gotti—appear in your Rice Krispies along with Snap, Crackle, and Pop. But I will answer your question as best I can.

Although I've only lived here a short time, I frankly doubt that such a spiritual experience will occur to a career heathen such as myself, i.e., I fear that I'm simply incapable of recognizing the faces of religious entities in my food any more than they could identify my countenance were it to appear in their own vittles.

My limitations in this area are further complicated by the fact that I prefer to eat food items that match the color and texture of the clothes I happen to be wearing—admittedly a peculiar habit, but one that gives me a sense of order and security to say nothing of camouflage. Unfortunately, most of my garments are in rather plain, subdued earth tones. Such monotonous colors, when in foodstuffs, are less likely to provide the variations and contrasts necessary for distinguishing important characteristics such as mustaches, beards, eyewear, hairlines, birthmarks, tattoos, and the like, critical to solid identification of persons or body parts.

This is not to say, however, there have never been exceptions to the above or that I am totally unreceptive to human images in my food. For example, the face of Louisa May Alcott recently appeared in a bag of caramel corn that I was consuming on my patio. Unfortunately, my Maine coon cat, Patrick, bumped my arm as I was studying this phenomenon, and the image quickly morphed into that of Gene Autry (in left profile) before disappearing entirely.

I should also mention—though it has nothing to do with food—that I live near a rock quarry in which the back-up alarms of countless ever-moving trucks normally produce an obnoxious discordant din throughout the day. Last week, a miraculous combination of volume, traffic patterns, and alarm tones resulted in these vehicles playing about thirty seconds of “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” followed by a near-complete verse of “Walkin' My Baby Back Home,” before lapsing back into grating atonality.

My existence back east never provided me with experiences such as the above, so perhaps life in my newly adopted Land of Enchantment is honing my receptors somewhat. If such incidents ever involve religious figures, I shall let you know. In the meantime, Happy New Year and good luck with the Rockettes-Gotti thing. Try caramel corn.

—YOUR FRIEND, HERB, Placitas


Heard around the West

—BETSY MARSTON
CANADA AND IDAHO
Spurred by global warming or just plain wanderlust, a female polar bear and a male grizzly got together six years ago for what Borat would call “sexy-time.” What the encounter produced might be dubbed a “pizzly” or a “grolarbear.” The male hybrid was shot earlier this year on a remote Arctic island by Jim Martell, 66, a wealthy Idaho hunter, and DNA examination confirms that it is indeed a new kind of bear. Martell and his Inuit guides first assumed the white furry animal was a polar bear.

But closer examination revealed anomalies: long claws, a humped back, black-ringed eyes and a dishy face — just like a grizzly’s. After spending seven months with a taxidermist, reports The Edmonton Journal, the bear went to Martell’s home in Glenns Ferry, a town of 1,400 east of Boise. The full-body mount won’t be there long. Martell, who prefers to call his kill a “polargrizz,” plans to show it off at a Nevada hunting expo in January. Bagging the bear was not cheap: Martell paid $50,000 for the hunt and $10,000 for the stuffed carcass.

COLORADO

Which is more important: opening your garage door, or homeland security? That was the knotty question facing Colorado Springs after the Air Force appropriated a particular frequency — one so common that it is used by an estimated 50 million garage-door openers nationwide. The Associated Press says the answer was a no-brainer for folks in the patriotic city. The Air Force has since shut down its signal while it tries to solve the problem, but if it’s unable to adjust the frequency, more than 400 complaining residents will have to install new units. Holly Stack, who lives near Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, joked, “I never thought my garage door was a threat to national security.”

NORTH DAKOTA
A handsome buck with an impressive rack of antlers turned out to be a female, much to the astonishment of the hunter who killed it, reports The Week magazine. “It’s got no male utilities,” said Carmen Erickson. “It has teats.”

THE NATION

PEEReview, the magazine of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, says the National Park Service is making no friends with its new policy of charging visitors for activities ranging from taking photos of large groups to having weddings. Prices vary from park to park, and the rationales seem to vary as well: “Mount Rainier National Park charges $60 for filming and $60 for a wedding … but only $25 for scattering of ashes — the ultimate exit fee.”

COLORADO
Thanks to his upbringing in the shadow of Chicago’s Midway International Airport, Jim Oakley is no stranger to “the ceaseless din of high-powered engines,” reports the Boulder Daily Camera. That’s fortunate: Oakley had just bought a new house in Erie, Colo., population 10,000, when a big dog of a neighbor moved in just 100 yards away from him — a 100-foot-tall drill rig belonging to EnCana Oil & Gas USA. It features “a deafening roar” and sports bright lights so it can drill 24 hours a day, seven days a week. EnCana’s arrival brought other surprises as well, such as a constant flow of trucks and heavy equipment. The good news for Oakley is that the company, which leased the mineral rights to 35 acres, plans to cease drilling by the end of the year.

ARIZONA AND WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Kaibab National Forest south of Grand Canyon issued Christmas tree-cutting permits for the Tusayan Ranger District, but specified they were only for “Piñon or Jupiter.” Writer Peter Friederici says he’s not sure what a Jupiter tree looks like, “but I’ll sure be keeping my eyes open for one.” In the U.S. capital, meanwhile, the Park Service’s PR chief apparently leads a double life, with one involving a kitchen. Explaining why his new boss, agency director Mary Bomar, wasn’t ready to give interviews, David Barna signed his e-mail “Chef of Public Affairs, National Park Service.”

COLORADO
Should school buses ferrying public schoolchildren shill for America’s Next Top Model? The Denver Post says “a handful” of Colorado districts have decided to pay for rising transportation costs by putting ads on their buses. Douglas County, near Denver, has joined affluent Cherry Creek in the practice, hoping to make a hefty $13,000 a month. Not all parents are supportive, and Commercial Alert, an Oregon-based nonprofit group, blasts school districts that use advertising to put “our children up for sale.”

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado (betsym@hcn.org). Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in Heard around the West.

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