Open Letter Asks Obama to Meet Tribal Leaders on Ocotillo Wind Project
An anonymous blogger has posted an open letter to President Barack Obama on Indigenous Reflections, asking him to meet with tribal leaders in southern California to talk about a massive wind energy project proposed on sacred tribal land that holds countless burial and cremation sites and tens of thousands of artifacts of cultural heritage.
The Ocotillo Express Wind Facility in the valley of Coyote Mountain around 90 miles south of San Diego was approved May 11 by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. The proposal includes the installation of 112 turbines, each 450 feet tall, across more than 10,150 acres of public land that is sacred to the Quechan, Kumeyaay and Cocopah Nations. Also included are a 12-acre concrete batch plant lay down area, a 3.4-acre site for an operations and maintenance facility, a 2.1-acre substation, a 23.5-acre interconnection switchyard, up to three permanent meteorological towers, and around 42 miles of new access roads. Land clearance and grading has already begun even though final approvals are still outstanding and a lawsuit against the project is pending.
The blogger, named “An Indian along the Colorado River,” notes with irony how the concept of renewable energy resonates with traditional indigenous spiritual values of maintaining a healthy and sustainable relationship with Mother Earth. But the practice of fast-tracking projects in areas that are culturally and archaeologically unsuited for utility scale energy production is destroying more than the environment. “What was once a tool of improving this shared world of ours for future generations has turned into a machine that is destroying the history of our Peoples, written into the land by our past generations.”
The letter says meetings took place with Interior’s Bureau of Land Management staffers, but not with the “decision-makers” – the president or Salazar. The meetings “were a mere formality, a box to check for the BLM to say, ‘Yes, we met with the Indians.’ … Our voices weren’t heard and our cultural resources received no protections. When will our heritage, spirituality, ancestry, and culture be protected and respected?”
The blogger reminds Obama of the many progressive promises he made to Indian peoples and talks of the diminished hope that those promises will be kept. “Mr. Obama, I want to write to you in a good way; I want to keep hope alive; and I want to reach out to you with an open heart. So, with humility, I would like to ask you again: Will you meet with the Tribal Governments along the Colorado River? If you say yes, regardless of the destruction that has already happened, these Peoples will welcome you to the table—that is their way. All you have to say is yes you can.”
Basin and Range Watch posted this video of a dust storm May 17 churned up by Ocotillo Wind Express’ earth movers on the sacred land where a private for profit energy corporation plans a massive industrial wind factory.