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The Convoluted Conclusion of the
FAMILY SPIRIT WALK
On October 15th, at the end of the Family Spirit Walk For Mother Earth, many of the Walkers took further steps to protect the planet with prayer-actions in Mercury and at Yucca Mountain. For going the extra miles, Nye County officials (with the help of Wackenhut Security) tried to punish the 27 who crossed the line beyond the comfort zone of the County & DoE/NNSA folks. All who took these extra steps for peace and healing had permission of the local land stewards, the Western Shoshone National Council. Nye County took these 27 to Beatty, NV for jail and court. The Vegas ACLU got involved, as well as Attorney David Kahn. The ACLU Attorney, Allen Lichtenstein, pointed out that Nye was infringing on some of the people's constitutional (Nevada) rights,
Later, "Justice of the Peace" Bill Sullivan was not happy about the refusals to plead, and intended to take special punitive measures against these "refuseniks" (Kahn's pet name for them), but Attorney Kahn managed to talk Sullivan out of it, so everyone is going to trial for now, except those who had their charges dropped on December 4th, and of course those who already had their charges dropped in November. Those who pleaded "not guilty" had motions filed explaining that Nye County has no jurisdiction because of the treaty of Ruby Valley of 1863. The motions were argued, then denied by Sullivan. He will not allow the cases to be joined together. Both Bill Sullivan and the DA were at all times cordial and professional with Attorney David Kahn. And the excess unlawful charges were dropped in early November. All the trespassing charges remained against all 27, until the middle of November when Nye District Attorney Donn Ianuzi began dropping certain cases alltogether. By March 28th, only six defendants remained. Ianuzi offered a plea bargain that four took. Then he dropped the charges on Greg Getty. Then, only Susi was left....
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Susi Snyder 917-940-5882 or Kalynda Tilges 702-369-2730
March 31, 2003
YUCCA MOUNTAIN ACTIVIST WINS FREEDOM
BUT IS DENIED JUSTICE
Beatty, NV__ 3pm- After more than half an hour of deliberations,
Beatty Court Justice of the Peace Bill Sullivan, found Ms. Susi
Snyder guilty of trespass on Yucca Mountain. Saying that he
commended Ms. Snyder on her efforts to prevent harm to Nevadans
by the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP), however, Sullivan said that
this time she’d “stepped over the line a little too far.” Ms.
Snyder was arrested for trespass with four other individuals on
October 14, 2002.
The trial that began at 10 AM lasted until 3 PM when Ms. Snyder
was pronounced guilty. Nye County District Attorney Donn
Ianuzi, claimed “the state has proved our case through
circumstantial evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt”.
During the trial four employees of Wackenhut Services
Incorporated (WSI) testified that they found Ms. Snyder on the
Area 25 parking area. None could explain how they had come to
be there, or what the two YMP employees who were also present
were doing on the scene.
Ms. Snyder testified to the fact that the two YMP employees
escorted her and the others to the parking area. The testimony
of Richard Deague, a WSI employee confirmed that there were two
YMP employees present, and identified one of them as Mike
Kucher- who was not present in court. Judge Sullivan stated
that he “did not believe that the YMP employees moved the
defendant to the Area 25 parking lot as Ms. Snyder claimed”,
even though the Nye County Sheriff and Wackenhut Security guards
could not say how she got there.
Ms. Snyder was represented by Las Vegas attorney David S. Kahn,
who said, “I am disappointed. I thought that we had prevailed
on the merits because they didn’t prove where Ms. Snyder was
supposedly trespassing. However, I felt that 100 hours of
community service was a reasonable penalty for this alleged
crime. Those who peacefully demonstrate against the nuclear
pollution of Nevada deserve the support of our community.”
There were originally 28 defendants facing trespass charges
from the October 2002 Action for Nuclear Abolition. Charges
were dropped against all but five. In order to avoid the time
and expense of traveling to Nevada, four took a plea bargain of
100 hours of community service each, which they will be able to
perform in their home communities.
Ms. Snyder was also sentenced 100 hours of community service in
her home community. On sentencing she said, “I did not take the
plea, because there was never any indication that I had wandered
off of BLM and onto YMP land, I did not trespass. This will not
stop my actions to prevent the YMP from being built, only
increase my determination.”
“I am very happy Susi is free to continue to fight against the
YMP for all Nevadans” stated Kalynda Tilges, Executive Director
of the Shundahai Network, the group which sponsored the event in
which Ms. Snyder and others were arrested. “I am saddened and
alarmed however, that Judge Sullivan let his prejudice of the
issue and Susi, cloud the facts of the case.” Said Kalynda
Shundahai Network is sponsoring another event at the Nevada
Test Site May 9-12, 2003 for Mothers Day to continue to oppose
the YMP and nuclear weapons development, testing and use.
# # #
Greg Getty, who was not part of the Family Spirit Walk to from LANL to the NTS & Yucca Mtn., had his charges dropped at the very last minute. About the technicalities of his case, Getty says:
"I noted the discrepancy between the NOTICE TO APPEAR document, dated
10-14-02, with my full name, signed by Sgt. Perez and the 10-15-02 Report
statement; “The protester was only known as Greg. He refused all other
information. He also refused medical attention” for the hit and run they
insist was “not the case” saying that I hit the truck instead (without
calling them as a witness or even stopping them or identifying them or
explaining why I was offered medical attention.)
Judge Sullivan convicted another defendant arrested the same date, despite contrary testimony, accepting as evidence of guilt her Shoshone Land Permit which was specifically asked for as I.D."
final brief filed by Attorney Kahn:
THE JUSTICE COURT OF BEATTY TOWNSHIP
COUNTY OF NYE, STATE OF NEVADA
THE STATE OF NEVADA
DEFENDANT'S TRIAL BRIEF
Trial Date: 3/31/03
Trial Time: 10:00 a.m.
DEFENDANT by and through attorney of record,
DAVID S. KAHN, ESQ., hereby provides the Court with Defendant's Trial Brief.
Defendant is charged with trespassing. Defendant believed
that the land upon which Defendant was arrested belonged lawfully to
the Shoshone nation. Defendant carried at the time a permit from the
Shoshone nation allowing Defendant to be on such property.
Defendant was arrested while protesting the nuclear and other
weapons policies of the United States of America, which Defendant
believes to be unlawful. Specifically, Defendant believes that the
nuclear and other weapons policies of the United States of America
are violative of international law, including certain treaties and
other agreements to which the United States of America is a signatory.
Under circumstances where Defendant believed the United
States of America to be in violation of international law and its
international agreements, Defendant believed at the time of the
arrest that the actions taken by Defendant were lawful. Furthermore,
Defendant believed at the time of the arrest that Defendant's actions
were justified by various legal principles, including the defense of
Defendant provides the following points and authorities in
support of Defendant's position, including the elements of the crime
charged, defenses asserted, international law authorities, and
ELEMENTS OF THE CRIME CHARGED
Trespassing, as defined by NRS 207.200, includes going upon
land without committing a burglary under the following circumstances:
1(a) . . . with intent to vex or annoy the owner or occupant . . .
or . . . commit any unlawful act; or
1(b) . . . Willfully goes . . . upon . . . land . . . after having
been warned by the owner or occupant thereof not to trespass . . .
2. A sufficient warning . . . is given by either of the following
(a) Painting, at intervals of not more than 200 feet on each side of
the land, upon or near the boundary, a post, structure or natural
object with not less than 50 square inches of fluorescent orange
paint . . .
(b) Fencing the area.
5. As used in this section, "fence" means a barrier sufficient to
indicate an intent to restrict the area to human ingress, including,
but not limited to, a wall, hedge or chain link or wire mesh fence.
NRS 207.200. Defendant contends that the elements of this crime have
not been met.
Defendant hereby asserts the common law defense of necessity,
including how that defense has been interpreted and used in Nevada.
Defendant contends that Defendant's actions were necessary based on
the actions of the United States of America, and its violation of
international law and treaties, as set forth more fully below.
The elements of the common law defense of necessity ("the
necessity defense") for a criminal defendant are met where a
reasonable jury [sic] could conclude:
(1) that he was faced with a choice of evils and chose the lesser
evil; (2) that he acted to prevent imminent harm;
(2) that he acted to prevent imminent harm;
(3) that he reasonably anticipated a causal relation between his
conduct and the harm to be avoided; and
(4) that there were no other legal alternatives to violating the law.
United States v. C ampos-Saucedo, 51 Fed.Appx. 728 (9th Cir., Or.
2002), quoting United States v. Aguilar, 883 F.2d 662, 693 (9th Cir.
1989). Defendant contends that all such elements are met in this
INTERNATIONAL LAW AUTHORITIES
the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Article 6(a) of the Nuremberg Charter
defines "crimes against peace" as follows:
(a) CRIMES AGAINST PEACE: namely, planning, preparation, initiation
or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of
international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in
a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the
the Kellogg-Briand Pact requires the peaceful resolution of
international disputes between contracting parties as follows:
The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of
all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin
they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except
by pacific means.
To the same effect are article 2(3) and article 33(1) of the United
The Organization and its Members, in the pursuit of the Purposes
stated in Article 1 shall act in accordance with the following
3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful
means in such a manner that international peace and security, and
justice, are not endangered.
PACIFIC SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
1. The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to
endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall,
first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, inquiry, mediation,
conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional
agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means to their own choice…
Article VI of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferationof Nuclear
Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations
in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the
nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on
a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and
effective international control.
According to the relevant part of this U.S. Declaration that was
approved in UN Security Council Resolution 984 (11 April 1995):13
The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons
against non-nuclear-weapons States Parties to the Treaty on the Non-
Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons except in the case of an invasion of
any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed
forces or other troops, its allies, or on a State towards which it
has a security commitment, carried out or sustained by such a non-
nuclear-weapon State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon
UN Security Council Resolution 984 (11 April 1995) explicitly
referred to the U.S. Declaration as "security assurances."
Article 6 of the Nuremberg Charter states in relevant part as
The following acts, or any of them, are crimes coming within the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal for which there shall be individual
(a) Crimes against peace: namely, planning preparation, initiation
or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of
international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in
a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the
Leaders, organizers, instigators and accomplices participating in the
formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy to commit any
of the foregoing crimes are responsible for all acts performed by any
persons in execution of such plan. [Emphasis added.]
To the same effect is the sixth principle of the Principles of
International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal
and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, which were adopted by the
International Law Commission of the United States in 1950: 50
The crimes hereinafter set our are punishable as crimes under
(a) Crimes against peace:
(i) Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances;
(ii) Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the
accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
Article 6(a) of the 1945 Charter of the International Military
Tribunal subsequently established at Nuremberg to prosecute and
punish Nazi war criminals defined the term "crime against peace" to
mean "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of
aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties,
agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or
conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing."
Nuremberg Charter article 6(b) defined the term "war crime" to
include "murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for
any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory,
murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas,
killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton
destruction of cities, towns or villages, or devastation not
justified by military necessity." (Emphasis added.) Article 6(c) of
the Nuremberg Charter defined the term "crime against humanity" to
include inter alia, "murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation,
and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population,
before or during the war…." (Emphasis added.)
Article 6 further provided that leaders, organizers, instigators, and
accomplices participating in the formulation or execution of a common
plan or conspiracy to commit crimes against peace, crimes against
humanity, and war crimes are responsible for all acts performed by
any persons in execution of such plan. Article 7 of the Nuremberg
Charter denied the applicability of the "act of state" defense to
them by making it clear that the official position of those who have
committed such heinous crimes "shall not be considered as freeing
them from responsibility or mitigating punishment." Finally, article
8 provided that the fact an individual acted pursuant to an order of
his government or of a superior shall not free him from
responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if
justice so requires.
Planning, preparation, conspiracy and solicitation to commit crimes
against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, as well as grave
breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, their Additional
Protocol One of 1977, the Hague Regulations of 1907, the Geneva Gas
Protocol of 1925, and the International Convention of the Prevention
and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide of 1948, inter alia. These
are the so-called inchoate crimes that under the Nuremberg Principles
constitute international crimes in their own right.
"The conclusion is inexorable, , therefore, that the possession,
design, testing, development, manufacture, deployment, and the threat
to use nuclear weapons together with all their essential
accouterments are criminal under well-recognized principles of
international law. Moreover, those government decision-makers in the
nuclear weapons states with command responsibility for their nuclear
weapons establishments are today subject to personal criminal
responsibility under the Nuremberg Principles for this criminal
practice of nuclear deterrence/terrorism that they have daily
inflicted upon all states and peoples of the international
community. Conversely, every citizen of the world community
possesses the basic human right to be free from the criminal practice
of nuclear deterrence/terrorism and its concomitant specter of
nuclear extinction, as well as the duty to oppose the existence of
nuclear weapons systems by whatever nonviolent means are at his or
The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, Francis A. Boyle, Clarity
Press, Inc. (2002).
The use of nuclear weapons in combat is absolutely prohibited under
all circumstances by both conventional and customary international
law: e.g., the Nuremberg Principles, the Hague Regulations of 1907,
the International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide (1948), the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and
their Additional Protocol I of 1977, etc. In addition, the use of
nuclear weapons would also specifically violate several fundamental
resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly that have
repeatedly condemned the use of nuclear weapons as an international
crime. For example, on November 24, 1961, the U.N. General Assembly
declared in Resolution 1653 (XVI) that "any State using nuclear or
thermonuclear weapons is to be considered as violating the Charter of
the United Nations, as acting contrary to the law of humanity, and as
committing a crime against mankind and civilization." In Resolution
33/71-B of December 14, 1978 and Resolution 35/152/D of December 12,
1980, the General Assembly again declared that "the use of nuclear
weapons would be a violation of the Charter of the United Nations and
a crime against humanity." Finally, the International Peace Bureau's
Appeal by Lawyers Against Nuclear War(1986)-which has already been
endorsed by thousands of lawyers around the world--declared that "the
use, for whatever reason, of a nuclear weapon would constitute (a) a
violation of international law, (b) a violation of human rights, and
(c) a crime against humanity."
The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, Francis A. Boyle, Clarity
Press, Inc. (2002).
Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter prohibits both the threat
and the use of force except in cases of legitimate self-defense as
recognized by article 51 thereof. But although the requirement of
legitimate self-defense is a necessary precondition for the legality
of any threat or use of force, it is certainly not sufficient. The
legality of any threat or use of force must also take into account
the customary and conventional international laws of humanitarian
armed conflict. Thereunder, the threat to use nuclear weapons
constitutes ongoing international criminal activity: namely,
planning, preparation and conspiracy to commit crimes against peace,
crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide, as well as grave
breaches of the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, Additional Protocol
I of 1977, and the Hague Regulations of 1907, inter alia.
The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, Francis A. Boyle, Clarity
Press, Inc. (2002).
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IN REGARDS TO SHOSHONE LAND CLAIMS
On September 30, 1978, Congress dissolved the Indian Claims
Commission. In 1979 the ICC's "Final Report" to Congress was
published. This report includes a chart on page 125: "Fiscal Year
Totals of Dockets Completed and Awards." In a footnote that
accompanies the chart, we find the Commission's acknowledgement that
out of the 324 dockets shown as completed by awards, 20 of these
dockets were "not reported to Congress as completed." (emphasis
added). This same information is also found H.D. Rosenthal's Their
Day in Court: A History of the Indian Claims Commission (1990), on
Western Shoshone docket 326-K is listed in the ICC's "Final
Report" as one of the dockets "not reported to Congress" because
case was still in appeals (by both the U.S. government and the
traditional Western Shoshone) before the Court of Claims when the
Indian Claims Commission went out of existence.
Although the ICC issued a Final Award judgment in the Western
Shoshone case, this did not end its statutory responsibility in the
case. The Commission was still required to file its report with
Congress. This requirement is spelled out in Section 21 of the
Indian Claims Commission Act., "Report of Commission to Congress,"
which reads as follows:
Sec, 21. In each claim, after the proceedings have been finally
concluded, the Commission shall promptly submit its report to
The report to Congress shall contain 1) the final
determination of the Commission; 2) a transcript of the proceedings
or judgment Upon review, if any, with the instructions of the Court
of Claims; and 3) a statement of how each Commissioner voted upon the
final determination of the claim.
Based on Section 21 of the ICC Act, the Indian Claims
Commission had a clear and explicit statutory obligation to file a
final report with Congress in the Western Shoshone case. Because the
Commission failed to do so, finality was never achieved in the
Western Shoshone case pursuant to the terms of the ICC Act.
Section 22 of the ICC Act explains the "Effect of Final
Determination of Commission."
Sec. 22. (a) When the report of the Commission determining any
Claimant to be entitled to recover has been filed with Congress, such
report shall have the effect of a final judgment of the Court of
Claims, and there is hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums
as are necessary to pay the final determination of the Commission.
Section 21 is wrapped up inside Section 22(a) of the Indian
Claims Commission Act. In other words, Section 22(a) rests on the
statutory requirement that the Commission file its report with
Congress when it completed any given case.
This point was note by the Court of Claims in a 1979
decision. Temoak Band of Western Shoshone Indians, 219. Ct. Cl.
346. The Court of Claims said quite clearly:
[in a previous ruling] we pointed out by Section 22 of Act, 25 U.S.C.
Section 70u, the United States would not be discharged of any claim,
including one that the Western Shoshones owned the land, until the
judgment was reported to Congress, money to pay it appropriated, and
payment made. (352) (emphasis added).
Thus, according to the Court of Claims, the report of the
Commission's judgment to Congress was an essential requirement, based
on the ICC Act, for the United States to be "discharged of any claim"
including the claim that the Western Shoshones still own the
unsettled land within the boundaries described in the 1863 Treaty of
Ruby Valley. However, the Court of Claims did not address, as a
factual matter, whether the Indian Claims Commission had filed, as
required by statute, its report with Congress in the Western Shoshone
In U.S. v. Dann (572 F. 2d 222 (1978), the Ninth Circuit
Court of Appeals pointed out that, "Claims before the ICC proceeded
in three steps; decision whether the claimant Indians had ever had
title to the land for which they are seeking compensation;
establishment of the value of the lands claimed to have been taken as
of the time of taking; and a determination of any offsets against the
Indians by the Government."
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals further said that the 1962
order of the ICC in the Western Shoshone case "is not deemed a final
judgment within the meaning of the ICC Act. `Finality' for this
purpose does not attach until the Commission has filed its report
with Congress and the Indians have actually been paid the
compensation owed them." (p. 226) (emphasis added). Importantly,
the Ninth Circuit did not address, as a factual matter, whether the
Indian Claims Commission had ever filed "its report with Congress" in
the Western Shoshone case.
According to the Supreme Court's reading of Section 22(a),
the Commission's filing of a report with Congress is one of two
ingredients necessary to "effect" [achieve or accomplish] finality in
a given Indian Claims Commission case, payment being the second
The above arguments related to the Western Shoshone are quoted from
the following report. Failure of the United States Indian Claims
Commission to File a Report with Congress in the Western Shoshone
Case (Docket 326-K), Pursuant to Sections 21 and 22(a) of the Indian
Claims Commission Act – A Report Prepared on Behalf of the Western
Shoshone National Counscil, Steven Newcomb (Director Indigenous Law
Institute and also Indigenous Law Research Coordinator D-Q University
at Sycuan and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation), January, 2003.
As the final report was never filed with Congress, the Shoshone have
not relinquished any land rights, including those upon which the land
in question was situated. By operation of federal law itself, as
evidenced by the applicable statute relating to the claims of the
Shoshone, the attempt to take Shoshone land by the United States of
America has never been finalized or formalized, in accordance with
the cited federal law applicable to the Shoshone lands in question.
Defendant's position is that Defendant was lawfully upon
lands belonging to the Shoshone nation, with the permission of the
Shoshone. Defendant believed at the time of the arrest that
Defendant's actions were justified under various legal principles,
including the defense of necessity, based on Defendant's belief that
the United States of America was in violation of international law
including various agreements signed by the United States of America.
Dated this ________ day of March, 2003.
MORRIS POLICH & PURDY LLP
DAVID S. KAHN, ESQ.
Nevada Bar No. 007038
MORRIS POLICH & PURDY LLP
3980 Howard Hughes Parkway, Suite 400
Las Vegas, Nevada 89109
Attorneys for Defendant
CERTIFICATE OF MAILING AND FACSIMILE TRANSMISSION
I HEREBY CERTIFY that I am an employee of Morris Polich &
Purdy LLP, and on this day of March, 2003, a true and correct copy
of the foregoing DEFENDANT'S TRIAL BRIEF was served via facsimile and
U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, upon the following:
You can read more about the Family Spirit Walkers' journey(s) below, and by following the links to mainstream media sources too...
Here's mainstreamish news of the case of the Beatty 8;
it may not have many applications to the charges against the OTHER 18 defendants who were OR'd...
Newspaper on 13 October: ACLU helping political prisoners
Newspaper on 14 October: News Conference @ Sawyer Bldg.
Newspaper on 24 October, including more legal info than the other article from the same day below.
And this one's no longer on another website:
Thursday, October 24, 2002
ACLU challenging Nye County
By David Hare
The ACLU thinks something stinks in Nye County, and it smells a lot
like justice gone bad.
On the weekend of Oct. 12-13, a group of anti-nuke protesters were
arrested at the Nevada Test Site. The arrests occurred during the
Action For Nuclear Abolition Summit held in Mercury.
The eight men and women who were arrested for trespassing at the Test
Site were also charged with "obstruction" under Nevada Revised Statue
197.190, which mandates that any person who does not give their name
to an investigating police officer can be charged with a misdemeanor.
What has the American Civil Liberties Union crying foul is a decision
handed down earlier this year by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals in San Francisco, which ruled that NRS 197.190 is
unconstitutionally overbroad and, therefore, unenforceable.
After the arrests, Allen Lichtenstein, an ACLU attorney, agreed to
represent the protesters. When Lichtenstein showed up at the Beatty
Justice Court in Nye County, where the eight were scheduled to be
arraigned, he said he immediately challenged the constitutionality of
the obstruction charge.
Justice of the Peace Bill Sullivan, however, denied Lichtenstein's
motion, continued with the arraignment - and set a trial date.
Sullivan told CityLife his decision was based on the fact that the
Nye County District Attorney was not present at the arraignment.
Sullivan ruled that the matter of obstruction would be dealt with at
the trial, scheduled for Nov. 14.
Lichtenstein said he finds Sullivan's actions, and those of other Nye
County law enforcement officials, objectionable on several fronts.
First, he said his clients were jailed on a state law that's been
declared unconstitutional in a federal court.
Second, Lichtenstein said Sullivan violated the Nevada Constitution,
Article 6, Sec. 8, which states that justice court has no
jurisdiction to weigh-in on constitutional challenges.
After Lichtenstein challenged the constitutionality of the
obstruction charge, he said Sullivan then should have held the case
"But [Sullivan] didn't want to hear that," Lichtenstein said.
According to Lichtenstein, the only two law enforcement officials
present at the arraignment were Sullivan and his son, Gus Sullivan,
who is a jailer at the Beatty Justice Court.
Bill Sullivan said he's handled similar trespassing cases before, and
that this last time was no different. He advised the defendants of
their rights and the charges being brought against them.
"Nobody's rights were violated," he said.
Based on his constitutional challenge, Lichtenstein said Sullivan
clearly violated his clients' civil liberties by continuing the
arraignment and setting a trial date.
"How can there be a trial on the obstruction charge when it's been
invalidated?" he said.
But Lichtenstein also points a finger at the Nye County Sheriff's
Department for initially arresting the protesters on obstruction.
"In Nye County, law enforcement seems to take the position that they
don't have to follow the state Constitution or the federal courts,"
he said. "They'll enforce what they feel like it."
Nye County Sheriff Wade Lieske said police officers have a right to
know the names of people who are being arrested for other offenses,
such as trespassing.
"If it proves to be unconstitutional, I'm sure it will be corrected
in a court of law," he said.
In February, after the Ninth circuit court's decision, the attorney
general's office sent out letters to all law enforcement agencies in
Nevada, in essence, explaining that the obstruction charge is no
longer a valid law.
Lichtenstein said he called the attorney general's office after the
arraignment. "They told me the [obstruction] statute is not
enforceable," he said.
Lichtenstein said he is meeting with the Nye County district attorney
on Oct. 25.
"I hope we can work this out before the [Nov. 14] trial," he said.
David Hare is CityLife's staff writer. He can be reached at
702-871-6780 ext. 396 or email@example.com
STORIES and ARTICLES
PLANTING SEEDS OF RESISTANCE FROM NEW MEXICO…
BY OAK TREE WALKER
Good morning once again, relatives. I give thanks once again for this new day. I ask that the ancestors of this land be with us today and give us permission to pass through in a good way. I pray for the healing of the abuse and neglect that this land has suffered. I pray for all the people who have been affected by the terrible nuclear cycle, for the uranium miners and their families, for the people living downwind, for all those whose communities are dumped on and who are faced with sickness and death due to radiation and contamination, for the natives of this land who are still strong despite centuries of genocide and colonization, for the soldiers whose lives are endangered every day, with or without their knowledge, and for the military people who created this nightmare, I ask that our prayers and actions today open their eyes and change their hearts in a good way. I pray for the healing of this land, and I have a song ...
With words of prayer like these, shared quietly each morning around a sacred fire in the desert chill
before dawn, about thirty activists from around the United States and the world began each day of our 2 month, 800 mile trek — the “Family Spirit Walk” (FSW) — from Los Alamos National Laboratory, next to the pueblos and sacred sites of the indigenous Tewa people in central New Mexico, to the Nevada Test Site (NTS), home of the Western Shoshone nation, 60 miles north of Las Vegas. Guided by natives of the land, through four states and the sovereign territory of almost a dozen indigenous nations, our family of Walkers sought to raise awareness in communities along our route about the perils of nuclear radiation, encourage the healing of the land, and put an end to the industrial and military practices that Ward Churchill has called "radioactive colonialism."
Since the start of the Manhattan Project in 1942, native communities in the Southwest have borne a disproportionate share of the social and ecological fallout from America's deadly addiction to nuclear power and weapons. From uranium mining to nuclear testing to the transport and storage of radioactive waste, the original inhabitants of the Great Basin and Colorado Plateau have been negatively impacted by every stage of the nuclear cycle.
Our Walk, sponsored by the Las Vegas-based Shundahai Network (www.shundahai.org), began on native land next to Los Alamos, the scientific factory that produced America’s first atomic bomb. Taking up forty-three square miles of land indigenous to the Tewa people from the pueblos Santa Clara and San Ildefonso, the laboratory cuts them off from traditional shrines, which are either fenced off or contaminated. In addition, the local ground water has been contaminated. Today, the “war on terrorism” has been a boon for Los Alamos: the U.S. military has asked the lab to design a new “bunker-busting” nuclear bomb, and about 1,000 new employees were hired in 2002. Yet justice for the Tewa nation has been denied: Los Alamos scientists refuse to admit the possibility of any connection between their nuclear experimentation and the elevated rates of cancer and birth deformities found among the neighboring Tewa. After our Walk was blessed by Tewa traditionalists and we received the sacred staff that we would carry for the duration of our journey, we began to walk.
In the United States, about two-thirds of all known reserves of uranium lie underneath Native American reservations. The bulk of uranium mining has occurred around the Colorado Plateau, a vast swath of land stretching approximately from Albuquerque in the east to Las Vegas in the West and encompassing the Grand Canyon. This area of land is home to the greatest concentration of indigenous population remaining in North America. Over 1,000 abandoned uranium mines lie on the Navajo reservation, largely untouched by any attempts to cover or restrain the toxic wastes. From east to west, our route spanned the Navajo reservation and took us by much of this land.
At our roadside overnight camp north of Tuba City, a Dine’ (Navajo) man described to us how, as a child, he layed atop piles of leftover uranium tailings. His story, unfortunately, is not unique, but rather is
indicative of a history of racist and criminal negligence that has exposed the Dine’, among others, to
extreme health risks. Enlisted to help America’s war effort during WWII and the Cold War, Dine’ uranium miners lacked access to uncontaminated drinking water and labored without protection in air thick with dust that was, even by 1950 standards, 750 times more radioactive than generally accepted limits. By 1990, of a group of 3,500 individuals who mined uranium in New Mexico, 450 had died of cancer, more than ten times the average rate in unexposed populations. In1979, the world’s largest radioactive spill occurred within the Navajo reservation in Church Rock, New Mexico, contaminating Dine’ land as well as the Rio Puerco river. Since then, the land has not been cleaned up, but the Bureau of Indian Affairs has chosen it as a site to which Dine’ natives are to be relocated from their tribal homes! Groups such as Dine’ CARE (Citizens Against Ruining our Environment) are doing the necessary work to resist these manifestations of “radioactive colonialism” in Navajo country.
For some of the Walkers, a high point of our journey was walking backcountry on rugged, unpaved roads through the remote Big Mountain area of the Hopi reservation. Trudging through torrents of rain and ankle-deep mud, we hiked to the homes of traditional Dine’ individuals who are resisting the attempts of Hopi and federal government officials to relocate them from their land. They are also fighting Peabody Western Coal Company, which takes over 1 billion gallons of pristine water each year from the aquifer underneath their land in order to flush coal through a300-mile slurry pipeline to a coal power station in
Nevada’s Mojave Desert that produces energy for the metropolitan areas of Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix. The incredible courage, kindness, and simplicity of these beautiful people touched our hearts. We were welcomed by Dine’ –speaking grandmothers who live alone on their land, hauling their own water and chopping their own firewood. (To ease their burden, self-sufficient sheep-herders are desperately needed this winter!) If people from the cities of the Southwest could meet them and share their way of life for a day or two, as we did, would their allegiance to the vicious “civilization” that is draining the very life from their land weaken?
As we walked, we gained an intimacy with the land that can never be attainable from within the manufactured glass and steel of a speeding car. We witnessed ecosystems change around us, from desert to forest and back to desert again. We waved to passersby in their vehicles, shared words of explanation and
encouragement with curious travelers who stopped to see why we were snaking single-file along the local highway, and spoke with people in the communities we passed through. And, always, we prayed to the ancestors of the land for safe passage along our way.
Once we reached the outskirts of Las Vegas, the dynamics of our Walk changed. As others started to join us, our numbers swelled to nearly 100 people before we reached the NTS. This was a time of preparation for what lay ahead. We formed affinity groups for upcoming actions and held non-violence
trainings and discussed legal issues concerning the actions we were planning. At Nellis Air Force Base, a major air show was occurring while we were in town. So, to bring our message to those in attendance, we held rallies outside of it both days as people were exiting. In Las Vegas, we conducted a prayer circle
outside the offices of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the NTS. Later, we also held a free-spirited die-in outside the Las Vegas Federal Building and plastered its sidewalks with a cacophony of radical chalkings.
Our Walk was a long and excruciating, but ultimately invigorating and healing, process of becoming a collective that moved forward together in a true spirit of solidarity and love. Through two months of cooking, eating, camping, playing music, talking, joking and - most of all - walking and praying together, our group of disparate walkers fused into a tightly knit community that came to function, more or less, as one single Walker family. As with any family, arguments broke out, nerves frayed, controversies erupted (most frequently over the role of sacred objects, such as a number of staffs we carried, in the
communal life of the Walk), and the frustrations and pain that individuals carried entered into and impacted our group circle in various ways. Yet our basic commitment to each other, and to our common purpose, never wavered. Many of us came to believe that this was due to the conscious and focused, yet
open-ended, way in which we integrated spiritual activity into our daily experience together.
Collectively, through the sacred objects we carried with us and the sacred ceremonies we performed, we put spiritual intent into the physically and emotionally arduous direct action we were doing together. For Lamar, a Taos resident who has been involved in actions and ceremonies with the Western Shoshone and other tribes since 1992, prayer and ceremony are important because they “strengthen our cause by opening a space in which we can, from our hearts, express feelings we have repressed, and by creating harmony and grounding from which our collective vision and endeavor can emerge.” For Marieke, one of three Walkers who joined the Walk from Belgium, “sacred objects and ceremonies are the pivot on which my whole day hinges. If we are on a spiritual journey, honestly trying to walk in balance and in beauty, the energy of the sacred objects and ceremonies will unite us, because they constantly remind us of our path.”
And how did it feel to walk hundreds of miles, 15 or 25 miles each day? For Marieke, the entire walk was enriching, because everything that Happened “either contained a lesson that I had to learn on my spiritual
path or provided some confirmation for that path by giving me inner peace and a deep joy. Every walk feels healing to me, because to me it seems that walking is the right rhythm for a human being, and the more I am aware of every step I take and the reason why, and the cause of it, the more I get reconnected to Mother Earth and the Creator.” Marc, a Walker from Gallup, NM who tirelessly organized many of the practical details of the Walk, echoed this sentiment: “The more we walk (the less we drive), the more we come into harmony with the ways of our ancestors who KNEW how to honor and love the earth as second-nature. Double rainbows, humming birds, and other signs were regular gifts accompanying our journey. As we approached our destination, the NTS, with hundreds of other people, all standing up for life and against the nuclear tide, we were accompanied by the spirits of the creatures who have suffered from nuclear violence.” And for Lamar, who was the only Walker to walk every mile, the Walk “was phenomenal; the discipline and joy and devotion we all shared made it an inspiring success.”
When we arrived at the anti-nuclear Peace Camp next to the NTS, many Walkers felt as if our journey together had not yet been completed. Further steps, literally, would have to be taken. An affinity group of Walkers decided to prolong our action of walking by walking into Mercury, the restricted-access military town inside the Test Site. From Los Alamos to Mercury, from one place that has been, for decades, Ground Zero for the acting out of brutal dreams of absolute power and destruction, to another, our Walk would come full circle.
I pray for the healing of this land, and I have a song:
I hear the voices of the Grandmothers calling me. I hear the voices of the Grandfathers calling me.
They say: “Wake up, wake up. They say: Wake up, wake up. Listen, listen. Listen, listen:
May the rivers all run clear. May the mountains be unspoiled.
May the air be pure. May the trees stand tall.
May the Earth be loved by all; May the Earth be shared by all.”
OAK “TREE” WALKER IS A FOREST DEFENDER AND HOBO REVOLUTIONARY FROM NORTHERN CALIFORNIA WHO JOURNEYED WITH THE “FAMILY SPIRIT WALK” FROM GALLUP, NM TO THE NEVADA TEST SITE.
By Andrew Freeman, Arcata, CA
There’s something about being restricted access from a town that is really frustrating. As I sat in camp, staring at the far away yellow lights of Mercury, a mere snail trail on the desert floor, I decided I had to go there.
I had other motivations too. At the Nevada Test Site/Yucca Mountain peace gathering, some 60 miles north of Las Vegas at the border of the Test Site, in the middle of the desert, I’d been learning a lot about the people who live here and the challenges they face. The Shoshone people had this land robbed from them (for a second time) when the U.S. government broke the Treaty of Ruby Valley. Land once promised to the Shoshone forever has since been ravaged from decades of nuclear testing that ended in 1992, only to be resumed by the current Bush administration. As a result of this testing, the Shoshone have suffered from abnormally high rates of cancer linked to the heavy amounts of radioactive material covering their land.
Today, the focus has turned to Yucca Mountain, some thirty miles north of the Test Site, where the Department of Energy wants to bury over 70,000 tons of nuclear waste. The waste, transported from all corners of the country, would be buried under a mountain that is seismically active, only 80 miles from a major U.S. city, and a sacred place for the Shoshone people. When I walked with eleven brothers and sisters into Mercury, I did so knowing that the Test Site and Yucca Mountain belong to the Shoshone people, not to the United States government.
The night before our walk I'd been part of a demonstration at the Test Site border on the road into Mercury. Children led the march down to the “line”, where guards waited on the other side for any people daring to trespass. After passionate speeches and inspirational music, a number of people crossed the
line, many to be aggressively dragged off into a giant cage where the guards were detaining trespassers. Many of the children became very upset. "Why are the guards hurting them?" one asked.
I left the line that night in tears. “This is all so ridiculous,” I thought. “Nuclear war and weapons and energy have got to stop! It’s destroying the environment, forcefully displacing the rightful caretakers of the land, and the results of all this amount to nothing positive - only the most dangerous weapon ever known.”
At 3 A.M. I awoke with the others. For over an hour we spoke about the mission. Many things were unclear, except for one — the spirit was there.
We walked out of camp under cover of darkness. Heading south on the highway, we would occasionally duck down low when cars flew by, posing as sagebrush and yucca. We crossed the highway, snuck under some barbed wire, and entered the Nevada Test Site. Still in the dark, we slowly traversed the long, tilted plain, heading in the direction of Mercury.
As the sun rose we looked behind us to peace camp. Closing my eyes, I could imagine the sound of the drum as Corbin, one of the many hospitable Shoshone hosts, began the morning sunrise ceremony. I was taken back to a dream the night before of a giant serpent emerging from an unknown cave deep in the desert. With a strong shield surrounding it, the serpent cruised through the desert, gobbling up stashed nuclear weapons and other armory. The Army tried firing a nuclear missile at the serpent, but it simply absorbed it. After devouring every single nuclear weapon on the Earth, the serpent self-destructed. People were left with a new slate. Would we re-develop nuclear weapons, or not? I wish we could be faced with that question again.
Many cars drove up the long road to Mercury. The morning sun had us fully illuminated. It was only a matter of time until the guards came for us. We ambled along, crossing dry washes, maneuvering around yucca plants and other spiny desert fauna. Sure enough, we walked right up to the edge of Mercury, to the local exercise zone equipped with a running track, driving range, pull-up bars and other equipment.
The buildings of Mercury are square and colorless. Few trees line the motionless streets. From what I understand, no one actually lives there, but there is a post office, library and cafeteria to accommodate
workers who might stay in town for a few days. There seemed to be an excessive amount of vehicles for a town where we didn’t see one person outside for the nearly 45 minutes we were roaming around. Occasionally, a car would pass us, but the unaware drivers didn’t even notice us! It was really weird —
we felt like we had an invisibility cloak on. It felt like a Twilight Zone episode.
Our first destination was a building that, according to a friend, once served as a church when Mercury actually did have residents. It was our intention to re-consecrate the old church. Circling up and dancing, we prayed and sang together with an abundance of spirit and emotion. So foreign we must have looked on the streets of Mercury, awakening the spirit of the land there, celebrating the spirit of the people who rightfully belong there. We danced around the building, singing loudly, cheering the beautiful morning. Then, we spent some time sending out our personal prayers. Our ceremony was strong. It felt so necessary to be there letting the land and organisms know that we acknowledge their sacredness and spirit. The ceremony was also a strong affirmation of our intentions to put an end to nuclear madness.
Many of us left something of importance behind at the church. I left a copy of the book, “The Hundredth Monkey” on a bench outside the church. For me, this was a reminder of when I found a copy of the same book on a bench at the central plaza in Arcata, California. This was a magical experience, as that book had a significant impact on my way of thinking. I hope it may have a similar impact on someone in Mercury.
From the church, we continued through town. We meandered to the “Cafeteria & Steakhouse” and went inside. One of our sisters was given a free cup of coffee by the startled workers inside. Without a doubt, the highlight of the cafeteria was a vending machine full of microwaveable items. The top of the machine had an image of a nuclear explosion, and the machine was aptly named “Nevada Test Site Nukeables”. While we were in the cafeteria the guards arrived and our leisurely jaunt through Mercury was over. This was when things became ridiculous. What happened to us was not unprecedented or extraordinary. It was just a waste of time, completely silly and highly unnecessary. The guards loaded us in a van, took us to the front gate, and locked us up in the pens. Some of us resisted, as they loaded us into a van for a trip to the Nye County jail in Beatty, 30 miles to the north.
It was a long ride to Beatty, with the guards chatting about eating alligator and taking scuba diving lessons in Las Vegas. I told one of them that I think nuclear bombs are terrible for humanity. She told me many things are much worse, like cigarette smoking. The eleven of us were booked into jail on charges of trespassing on federal land. A few hours later, ten more illegal Mercury “tourists” arrived, causing quite a chaotic scene inside the small town jailhouse. To our surprise, after seven hours in jail, the guards began releasing us. I was the third to be released and came out of jail to a crowd of wonderful supporters. We kept vigil on the steps of the courthouse as, one by one, our friends were slowly released. Some of us maintained an overnight watch because eight people who had refused to identify themselves were kept in jail, in violation of Nevada law.
We were all released in time to take part in the final action of the week, a lively demonstration with puppet theater, hard-driving drums, dancers flying around, emotional bouts of political poetry, heart-felt singing and more crossings of the line to say: NO MORE NUKES!
Family Spirit Walk through Big Mountain area of Dine' Bikeyah.
It must've been around the second week of September that our walk from Los Alamos, NM to the Nevada Test Site passed through the contested area of Black Mesa. We had a rest day at the Hopi Cultural Center outside Kykotsmopovi where we were visited by Louise Benally and Tom Bedonie, native people of Big Mountain, Navajos.
They addressed our group of about 25, walkers hailing from different places across America and beyond. We heard a brief update on the struggle to resist relocation and preserve the land against stripmining. Some of us who were familiar with the situation and its history tried to fill in the blanks as we walked the next day through kykotsmovi and headed north towards Dinebito, a 22-mile day. In our prayer circle that morning we prayed especially for the rain to join us again-we hadn't seen it in a week or so, it had been heavy around Window Rock and Ganado.
We were warmly welcomed at the home of Elsie Begay and her daughters past Hard Rocks Chapterhouse. Our elder "No Nukes Norb", a 78-year old farmer from Washington and a WWII vet, had arrived ahead of us and we found him hanging out with their horses, getting along quite well. Elsie's daughters joined us for dinner with a warm and supportive statement about our efforts. It was Squaw Dance season and people were talking about two going on in the area.
Our group worked out a plan that would allow us to pass through the back country to Red Lake without vehicle support. So it would be a smaller contingent of "hard-cores" that would take the staff. Our firekeeper, a Native man from Southern California, and Vietnam Vet, insisted to join us, despite his bad knee. The rest would stay with the vehicles, the kitchen and the infamous potty trailer, at Begays for another night and then leave for Red Lake on the next day.
On the road towards Camp Anna Mae, "Big Mountain Boulevard", as they call it, we met again the rain. It rolled in from the north. Also rolling from the north in her daughters' little red Fiesta, we met Ruth Benally, a grandma in her eighties who had been arrested a year earlier and tried by Hopi Court the previous winter for organizing the Sundance without a permit, charged with trespass on the land where she was born. The case was dissmissed after four days on a technicality. I was glad to see Ruth, who I had gotten to know during the trial. Her daughter told me that when they came over the hill and saw us, she had exclaimed, "Pull over! My children are coming!" Although she was on her way to the squaw dance, she invited us to stay in her hogan by Camp Anna Mae, warm up in there and make some coffee. This gave us a lift as we trudged through the rain and mud. My thoughts wandered back to the time I had allowed the goats I was herding for her neighbor get mixed up with Ruths sheep some years ago.
"What a mess that was! I will have to tell her about it sometime. She'll get a laugh."
We got in to the hogan late that afternoon and got the fire started right off. And huddled around it out of the rain that lasted through that night: niltsan bi'aad, female rain.
The morning was sunshine. I left with a friend in a little car to look for John Benally, who was going to give us directions off-road over the ridge towards Pauline Whitesingers'. We had both been around before, driven many miles on those treacherous roads, so when John wasn't at his place we pushed confidently onward, "Maybe he's at Leonards". We took a wrong turn and the road got worse and worse as it emptied out into the field, drenched from last night's rain. "We're past the point of no return!", I declared, just before I settled the car snugly on a high center teetering over a four-foot wash-out hole.
We got back to Ruths on foot with the sun two hands up. John was there waiting for us.
We had arrived at the site of the savage destruction of the Big Mountain Sundance Arbor by Hopi Rangers and BIA/County officials. This was an important point in our walk and we had anticipated the opportunity to bring our prayer for healing to this place. We took our time with the prayer circle around the sacred fire that we had started from every morning. John spoke at length, and eloquently about the situation. Sufferings under an illegitimate law. The destruction of the land by the coal mine. The strength of prayer and love of the land that keeps a few here, resisting.
John and I walked to the top of the hill. He pointed to the most distant ridge and gave me long directions in Navajo. When he was done I said in english, "so you mean…" and he shouted "No, No, NO!… I think you're gonna get them lost!". Still in Navajo, the directions again. This time I figured out what he meant.
Over the ridge. Big Mountain to our right. I looked out from where the sun had come up on me so many times and saw Nashdoitsoh-wildcats' peak in the distance. There was a road winding out there somewhere. I think that's it. Around noon still under sun I contacted the ten year old Taro on the radio. "we've got your lunch here, where are you?" he said to me. We got down to the road and ate with John and his kids out of the van. Clouds rolled in from the west. The van left us from there and went towards Tuba City. Those who hadn't walked had visited the now fenced-off former sundance grounds and dug the little car out of the mud. There was an urgency to that lunch. The storm was coming.
And so nine of us started up the road to Pauline's place. The storm hit with gale-force winds, pelting hail, thunder and lightning. The water was really flowing by the time we passed Pauline's cornfield and we waded through a gulley in this desert area. It didn't matter, our shoes had been soaked since the day before.
The Sun broke through a cloud just as we came into site of her place. She told me when we got there that she had looked out with her clouded vision and thought she saw some horses or cows coming up the road, but it was us. We had a good laugh about this.
Who else would be crazy enough to be walking around through such a storm but horses and cows. She told us to sleep in her hogan and we gladly accepted, hanging wet socks all around the warm fire. Some of us chopped wood as Pauline, 83 years old and still living on her own, bustled around us excitedly, barking commands on deaf ears in Dine'.
I did my best to translate those things which would not hurt peoples' feelings. Over dinner, I tried to explain the situation at NTS and Yucca Mountain. She filled in the words I did not know-she knew the story already, about the violations of the Shoshone treaty and the sicknesses and destruction emanating from the abuse of the atom. I figured that the late Arlene Hamilton probably told her.
She came to us warmly in the morning with warm blue corn bread and oatmeal.
We gave her gifts and she joined us around the fire circle. She advised us to collect juniper boughs to use for prayer offerings along the rest of our way and placed tobacco in our fire, praying for our protection. We went on.
The corn was growing at the Blackgoat home. The door was open, and Roberta's son Danny was mulling around inside. I wasn't quite sure what to expect here at the place I had spent six months last winter at, up until Roberta passed on in April. It was good to see Danny there. It was good to see the corn growing.
"What can I do for this walk?" said Danny. "Well can I put some coffee on?" I asked. We got some coffee in us. Danny offered to drive our gear down to the Ata'gi Toho (3miles away) and give our backs a break. I took the staff and we went straight over there on the sheep trail. Upandownanupandown but straight. The Moenkopi wash was flowing deeper than I'd ever seen. That was as far as any vehicle was going that day. Danny turned around as the clouds came again, this time from the south. I figured we could make it to Babbit-Lanes by sunset, thinking back to how very short the day had seemed when we came from the other direction in 2000 with the Japanese Buddhists.
We took the safe turn at the fork. I guess I didn't know how much longer the "safe turn" was. Or maybe how late in the day it was. Darkness swept over us, wetter and muddier than ever while we trudged along the pipeline road. I had long since exhausted everyones faith in my knowledge of the area. Especially the europeans. It was pitch black and no sign of the Babbitt-Lanes. We camped on the side of the road.
When day came I dashed out to the high point behind us, looked to the south and saw Rena's herd milling around the pen, maybe 300 feet away. But of course. Soon we were in Rena's front yard. She rolled out of the house with a defiant look on her face: "Ok, what now?" she seemed to be saying. Rena Babbitt-Lane lives far out from the physical center of the resistance struggle, but she has been at the actual center of events a lot in the last five years. She is totally uncompromising with the authorities, never giving them an inch on her herd. She had a finger broken by one of the goons some years ago attempting to block his advance on her sheep. Rena's as tough as they come. She had not heard that we were coming and she was all alone. But she recognized me and soon we were in the warm kitchen drinking coffee and listening to the flip-flap of frybread dough on its way into the pan.
Rena gave us a song. We gave her corn seeds. The way she reacted to those seeds made me think that she might plant again next spring, especially with all this rain. Her well dried up years ago from the taxing of the water table by the Peabody Coal company and its slurry line. That slurry line runs about two hundred feet from Rena's hogan but she has to haul her water from Red Lake, 15 miles away. When the truck works, that is.
So she hasn't been able to plant corn. Too dry.
We jumped the fence behind her house and concluded our time of illegally tresspassing on what is now considered "Hopi Land". No trouble from the authorities.
We got four days of rain on Black Mesa. And they said it hadn't rained since April before that. So that was good, we carried that prayer on to the Test Site. Muddy shoes and all.
-owen johnson, 11/04/02
Beginning on August 9, I began walking 800 miles through the American desert to create positive changes in US nuclear policy. I am learning. I am learning to be thankful. I am learning to pray constantly, with my whole body, mind and spirit. I am learning from the indigenous peoples of North America about ceremony, sacredness, and my connection to the earth. I am learning about my world, first hand, and the nuclear industry that threatens to destroy it. I am learning about myself and I realize that all I can do is pray and walk and learn and work for change, regardless of the outcome. I am not alone.
The Family Spirit Walk for Mother Earth
I walk with 20 other people. We are the Family Spirit Walk for Mother Earth. We have been led by Native Americans through the traditional homelands of the Tewa and Navajo people and have been entrusted with their sacred items and welcomed into their sacred ceremonies. We are sending out our invisible prayer against an invisible force that threatens us all. It is right to fight it this way. We are praying with our bodies as we make the symbolic journey from Los Alamos, NM, where nuclear weapons and technologies have been created. We have walked through communities such as Crownpoint, NM, where uranium is mined and waste spills out onto the land. We will walk to St. George, UT, and other towns where sickness and death reside in communities downwind from nuclear testing. Finally, we will finish at the nuclear test site at Yucca Mountain, NV, where the Bush administration hopes to resume nuclear testing for the War on Terrorism and to bury 77,000 tons of nuclear waste on Western Shoshone land so that we can continue to produce more.
Two months ago I was not thinking at all about the nuclear industry and its effect on my world. I was serving my world and fighting more visible injustices: the death penalty, the prison industry, the School of Americas, and institutions of corporate globalization. I knew that nuclear weapon testing had been banned and that nuclear power facilities were no longer being built. I felt a sense of security, built on my refusal to see the realities of continued nuclear development and waste production in this country.
When I was told about the Family Spirit Walk for Mother Earth I had never participated in any kind of nuclear action. Somehow, I knew I needed to join it. I started to read and educate myself. When I tabled to raise money for the trip in my hometown of Arcata, California, I met many people who had fought the nuclear industry successfully in the 1980s. As we interacted we both knew that the fight is not over and that this is not the time for complacency.
The more I learn about the nuclear industry, the more I see that its effects connect to everything I have been working on during my whole adult life. I am here to fight the corporations making money off of the sales of nuclear weapons to both sides of international conflicts and the CEOs that run them (according to Helen Caldicott, Boeing CEO Philip Condit made $16 million dollars in 2000). I am here to fight the nuclear lobby, quietly led by Lockheed Martin's Norman Augustine, which Caldicott says contributed $2 million dollars to the 2000 presidential campaign. I am here to fight my government and the nuclear industry which pays it to dump nuclear waste on Native American land and employs its people in toxic uranium mines. I am here to say no to nuclear testing and the madness of nuclear proliferation.
As I continue to walk and pray and witness to the earth and the violence perpetrated on it, I am thankful to my teachers. Part of my prayer is that others will be open to learning as well. This is how change will happen. We will be walking for two months and anyone is welcome to join us or contribute. On October 12, Indigenous People's Day, we will reach the Nuclear Test Site at Yucca Mountain, NV, and spend the weekend there. If you can, find a way to meet us in Nevada. We will send up an interfaith prayer for positive changes, call for accountability, and we will rise up and resist. For more information about our journey or the weekend in Nevada, go to Shundahai.org or www.motherearth.org or call 800-471-4737. If we want a better world we have to stand up together. I will see you in Nevada.
Article - Press Release
By Marieke Van Coppenolle
While in Belgium hundreds of activists will inspect the US military base at Kleine Brogel on October 5th, a group of walkers in the USA is approaching the nuclear test site in Nevada, officially euphemistically called "Desert Research Park". The participants at this Family Spirit Walk for Mother Earth represent all kinds of peace, environmental and human rights organizations, including For Mother Earth - Belgium.
In 1992 the US declared a moratorium on full scale nuclear tests. However, the so called underground sub-critical nuclear tests are still being continued, up to three or four each year. The third one took place on August 29th, the fourth on September 26th. The American government states that these tests are necessary for the existing nuclear arsenal's safety and reliability. Meantime, new (nuclear) weapons are intensely being developed.
On August 6th, Hiroshima Day, some twenty participants for the walk gathered in Chimayo near Los Alamos, New Mexico. Here is the birthplace of the nuclear bomb: the American national laboratory for the research and development of nuclear weapons - that are also stored in the US military base at Kleine Brogel, Belgium. The participants at the base camp in Chimayo were involved with the set up of camp rules (direct democracy) and informed about the native customs of the locals, on whose land the walk would journey. On August 9th, Nagasaki Day, the walkers left for a nine weeks trip of about 800 miles to the Nevada Test Site. A representative with For Mother Earth - Belgium read a supporting statement at the start of the walk.
The nuclear tests have destroying effects on the environment and the health of the local population. This year the US government has made moves to resume full-scale nuclear weapons testing, Susi Snyder states, who is a former staff member of key organizer Shundahai Network and one of the walkers, And it also wants to open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Newe Sogobia, the Western Shoshone Nation. Newe Sogobia is already the most bombed nation on Earth: Since 1951 over 1000 full-scale nuclear weapons explosions have shaken the desert there. Sub-critical nuclear weapons testing continues, and Yucca Mountain is slated to become America's largest dump of nuclear waste and the world's only geological repository, despite the doubts of scientists as to its safety and the outcry of Nevada's citizens and hundreds of groups.
Both the Test Site and Yucca Mountain are on Western Shoshone lands, called Newe Sogobia. In 1863 the American government and the then leaders of the Western Shoshone Nation signed a so called treaty of friendship, the Treaty of Ruby Valley, that never passed on any land rights to the American government, but made up agreements about the use of the lands by the white colonists. The present activists refer to this treaty. Right on this moment this walk appears to be extremely meaningful. Susi Snyder: “In January, the Pentagon has released its ‘Nuclear Posture Review’ calling for increased spending on nuclear weapons, and a possible resumption of full-scale nuclear weapons testing at the Nevada Test Site. On July 9th, the Senate voted to approve Yucca Mountain as a high level nuclear waste storage area. The first transports are planned for 2010. That means over 50,000 shipments of high level nuclear waste through 44 states over 38 years.” Apart from the fact that Yucca Mountain according to independent geologists is totally unsuitable for the storage of high level nuclear waste, there will be far more waste by 2010 than the mountain ever can store. “So this is barely a solution,” thus Susi Snyder. The Environmental Impact Department of Energy figured that Yucca Mountain can store 77,000 tons of high level nuclear waste, transported over some 78,000 miles, with an estimated 90-590 accidents on route.
For the participants of the Family Spirit Walk these and other violations of peace, environment and human rights are reasons enough to set off. In this way they follow an ancient native tradition of taking a message from tribe to tribe. The daily ceremonies, grafted on native traditions, help restore and strengthen the connection with the Mother Earth and all life. The contact with the local people is very important. A Hopi couple pulled over when the walkers were having a break, and said, “You guys are walking for a good cause. The only thing we want is to live in peace on our land. If (president) Bush wants a war, he should do that without involving us and our territories. Unfortunately we can't join you physically, but we will sure pray for y'all. Yes, we'll pray for y'all.
On October 5th, the day of the civil inspection at Kleine Brogel, Belgium, the walk will have reached Las Vegas, Nevada. That day there will be an action in Las Vegas too, with a Peoples Nuclear Abolition Summit, and speakers of native communities and environmental organizations, and the action at Kleine Brogel will be mentioned. For the last five days, from Las Vegas to the Test Site, the organizers expect hundreds of participants. From October 11th until 14th they will set up a peace camp at the main entrance of the Test Site, hosted by the Western Shoshone National Council. Respecting their traditions no drugs, alcohol or weapons are allowed. Especially October 12th, Indigenous Peoples Day (officially Columbus Day), will be a day of solidarity with all indigenous peoples all over the world, who are still suffering the effects of nuclear colonialism. The participants will take actions - at Yucca Mountain as well - for the abolition of nuclear energy and weapons, on earth and in space, in all kinds of meetings, trainings, workshops, planning meetings, nonviolent actions and ceremonies, to “reclaim the land for all life.
Corbin Harney, 82, Western Shoshone spiritual leader, will like always be at the peace camp on the Test Site, to run ceremonies and so on. In a simple way he summarizes what it is all about: "It's in our backyard it's in our front yard. This nuclear contamination is shortening all life. We are going to have to unite as a people and say no more! We, the people, are going to have to put our thoughts together to save our planet here. We only have One Water, One Air, One Mother Earth."
Sources: Shundahai Network - www.shundahai.org, Citizen Alert, Environmental Impact Department of Energy, For Mother Earth Belgium - www.motherearth.org.
By Marieke Van Coppenolle
Terwijl in Belgie op 5 oktober honderden actievoerders de militaire basis van Kleine Brogel met een inspectiebezoek zullen vereren, nadert een groep stappers in de Verenigde Staten het nucleaire testgebied van Nevada, officieel eufemistisch "Desert Research Park" genoemd. De deelnemers aan deze Family Spirit Walk For Mother Earth komen uit verschillende vredes-, milieu- en mensenrechtenorganisaties, waaronder Voor Moeder Aarde vzw.
In 1992 kondigden de Verenigde Staten een moratorium af voor kernproeven boven een bepaalde explosiekracht. De zogenaamde ondergrondse subkritische kernproeven gaan tot nu toe echter gewoon door, a rato van drie tot vier per jaar. De derde van dit jaar vond plaats op 29 [of 30 ?] augustus. De Amerikaanse regering argumenteert dat deze proeven noodzakelijk zijn voor de veiligheid en betrouwbaarheid van het bestaande kernwapenarsenaal. Ondertussen wordt er intensief aan de ontwikkeling van nieuwe (kern)wapens gewerkt.
Op 6 augustus, Hiroshimadag, verzamelden een kleine twintig deelnemers aan de voettocht zich in Chimayo bij Los Alamos, New Mexico. Hier bevindt zich de geboorteplaats van de atoombom: het Amerikaans nationaal laboratorium voor het onderzoek en de ontwikkeling van kernwapens - die onder andere in Kleine Brogel gestationeerd worden.
De deelnemers aan het basiskamp in Chimayo werden betrokken in het opstellen van de leefregels (basisdemocratie) en gebriefd over de gebruiken van de plaatselijke inheemse bevolking, over wiens grondgebied de voettocht zou trekken.
Op 9 augustus, Nagasakidag, vertrokken de stappers voor een tocht van negen weken, zo'n 1300 km, naar de Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Een afgevaardigde van Voor Moeder Aarde las bij het vertrek een steunverklaring voor. [eventueel uit citeren]
De kerntesten hebben vernietigende gevolgen voor het milieu en de gezondheid van de plaatselijke bevolking. "Dit jaar maakt de Amerikaanse regering duidelijk aanstalten om opnieuw volledige [full-scale] kernproeven uit te voeren," zegt Susi Schneider, voormalig stafmedewerkster van hoofdorganisator Shundahai Network en zelf een van de stappers, "Verder wil de regering Yucca Mountain in Newe Sogobia, het grondgebied van de Western Shoshone, gebruiken als opslagplaats voor hoogradioactief kernafval. Newe Sogobia is nu al de meest gebombardeerde natie op aarde: sinds 1951 zijn er in de woestijn daar al meer dan 1000 kernwapens getest. Het subkritische testen gaat nog steeds door, en Yucca Mountain werd aangeduid om Amerika's grootste kernafvalstort en 's werelds enige geologische opslagplaats te worden, dit ondanks gegronde twijfels van wetenschappers over de veiligheid van die plek, en het protest van de burgers van Nevada en honderden organisaties."
Zowel de Test Site als Yucca Mountain liggen op het grondgebied van de Western Shoshone-indianen, Newe Sogobia. In 1865 [1868 ?] ondertekenden de Amerikaanse regering en de toenmalige leiders van de Western Shoshone een zogenaamd vriendschapsverdrag, het verdrag van Ruby Valley, waarin de landrechten NIET werden overgedragen aan de Amerikaanse regering, maar waarin afspraken werden gemaakt over het gebruik van het land door de blanken. Onder andere naar deze verdragsrechten verwijzen de huidige actievoerders.
Net op dit ogenblik blijkt deze voettocht bijzonder zinvol. Susi Schneider: "In januari dit jaar gaf het Pentagon zijn 'Nuclear Posture Review' vrij, waarin opgeroepen wordt meer financiele middelen vrij te maken voor kernwapens, en een mogelijke herneming van volledige [full-scale] kernproeven op de Nevada Test Site. Op 9 juli keurde de Senaat een wetsvoorstel goed, dat Yucca Mountain bestemt als nationale opslagplaats voor hoogradioactief afval van kerncentrales. De eerste transporten worden gepland voor 2010. Dat betekent dat er vanaf dan gedurende 38 jaar meer dan 50.000 kerntransporten zullen plaatsvinden door 44 staten van de VS."
Behalve het feit dat Yucca Mountain volgens onafhankelijke geologen totaal ongeschikt is voor het bergen van kernafval, zal er tegen 2010 al lang veel meer afval zijn dan de berg kan bevatten. "Dat is dus hoegenaamd geen oplossing voor het probleem," aldus nog Susi Schneider. Het Environmental Impact Department of Energy geeft deze cijfers: Yucca Mountain kan 77.000 ton hoogradioactief kernafval bergen, dat over 125.000 km vervoerd wordt, met een kans van jaarlijks 90 tot 590 ongelukken tijdens het transport.
Voor de deelnemers aan de Family Spirit Walk For Mother Earth zijn deze en andere schendingen van vrede, milieu en mensenrechten redenen genoeg om op weg te gaan. Ze volgen daarmee een oude inheemse traditie om op die manier een boodschap over te brengen van stam tot stam. De dagelijkse ceremonies, geent op de inheemse tradities, helpen het contact met Moeder Aarde en alles wat leeft te herstellen en te versterken. Het contact met de plaatselijke inheemse bevolking is erg belangrijk. Een Hopi-echtpaar stopte langs de weg toen de stappers een rustpauze hadden, en zei: "Jullie stappen voor een goede zaak. Het enige wat wij wensen is in vrede op het land te leven. Als (president) Bush oorlog wil voeren, moet hij dat maar doen zonder ons en ons grondgebied daarin te betrekken. Jammer dat we zelf niet mee kunnen stappen, maar we zullen voor jullie bidden. Ja, we zullen zeker voor jullie bidden."
Op 5 oktober, dag van de burgerinspectie in het Belgische Kleine Brogel, zal de voettocht Las Vegas in Nevada bereikt hebben. Die dag is er een actie in Las Vegas, met een 'Peoples' Nuclear Abolition Summit', en sprekers van inheemse en milieurechtenorganisaties, waarop de actie in Kleine Brogel vermeld wordt.
Voor de laatste vijf dagen, van Las Vegas tot de ingang van de Test Site, verwachten de organisatoren honderden deelnemers. Van 11 tot en met 14 oktober zetten zij een geweldloos vredeskamp op aan de ingang van de Test Site, waarbij de Western Shoshone National Council gastheer is. In respect voor hun trdities worden er geen drugs, alcohol of wapens totgelaten. Vooral 12 oktober, Dag van de Inheemse Volkeren (officieel Columbus Day), wordt een dag van solidariteit met de inheemse volkeren over de hele wereld, die nog steeds lijden onder de gevolgen van het nucleaire kolonialisme. De deelnemers zullen actie voeren (ook aan Yucca Mountain) voor de eliminatie van kernenergie en kernwapens, op aarde en in de ruimte, in allerlei ontmoetingen, trainingen, workshops, planningsvergaderingen, geweldloze acties en ceremonies, om "het land opnieuw op te eisen voor alle leven".
Corbin Harney, 82, spiritueel leider van de Western Shoshone, zal zoals altijd aanwezig zijn op het vredeskamp aan de Test Site, onder andere om de ceremonies te leiden. Hij vat eenvoudig samen waar het om gaat: "Het gebeurt in onze achtertuin… het gebeurt in onze voortuin. Deze nucleaire vervuiling maakt alle leven korter. We moeten opstaan als EEN volk en zeggen: 'Stop ermee!' Wij, het volk, moeten onze gedachten samenbrengen om onze planeet te redden. We hebben maar EEN water, EEN lucht, EEN Moeder Aarde."
Copyright: Marieke Van Coppenolle
Bronnen: Shundahai Network - www.shundahai.org, Citizen Alert, Environmental Impact Department of Energy (USA), Voor Moeder Aarde vzw - www.motherearth.org.
Info over de Family Spirit Walk en de acties aan de Test Site: www.shundahai.org, www.angelfire.com/retro/nuclear, waar de vorderingen van de deelnemers aan de voettocht gevolgd kunnen worden.
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NEWS RELEASE: 4 October 2002
CONTACT: Kalynda Tilges (800) 471 4737 Marc Page (505) 870 2275
FAMILY SPIRIT WALK ARRIVES IN LAS VEGAS
AFTER TWO MONTHS ON THE ROAD FROM LOS ALAMOS
WHO: Concerned people of the USA & other countries
WHAT: A faith-based prayer walk for nuclear abolition through the Southwest which began in August in New Mexico; continuing through Southern Nevada on October 4th, and over to the Nevada Test Site by October 11th 2002.
WHEN: October 4th 2002 in Las Vegas, NV
WHERE: Walking westward at 7:00 AM from our campsite near the junction of Las Vegas Blvd. and Hwy 15 (exit 58) to the National Nuclear Security Administration Building at the corner of Lossee and Energy Way (formerly the DOE Building) by 3:00 PM.
WHY: Bringing awareness to communities about the radiation hazards in the USA, the faith-
based walkers are encouraging healing of the land and an end of the radioactive contamination
and destructive nuclear science practices. Native Americans bear the brunt of these nuclear
industries. Steve Lamar, from New Mexico, has been with the group since it began
its journey in Los Alamos, NM says, "Humans are the custodians of planet Earth; we want to
protect it for our children and children's children."
Marieke Van Coppenolle, who left her two sons in Belgium to march with the group, says,
"Nuclear proliferation is a global problem. US weapons of mass destruction are stored in my
country." In this region, the Family Spirit Walk is focused on honoring the victims of nuclear
experimentation at the Nevada Test Site. Many "downwinders" (nuclear victims) in areas
surrounding the test site have carried the burden of the nuclear weapons tests, and now the same
families are being asked to risk their lives again as high-level nuclear waste is slated to be
transported through this area to Yucca Mountain, adjacent to the Test Site. The US Department
of Energy warns the people of the US of the likelihood of hundreds of accidents with such deadly toxins once shipments begin in a few years. These would occur in random locations along the transport routes, which converge mainly in Las Vegas area residents/potential victims.
Daily newspaper on: News Conference @ Sawyer Bldg.: 14 Oct
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Daily newspaper on: Louis Vitale goes to prison: 16 Oct