The latest incarnation of the land and resource-coveting "Sagebrush Rebellion"
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 24 10:29:33 MST 2001
Note by Hunterbear:
Our RedBadBear list seems to be pretty representative geographically -- with
a fair number of bona fide Westerners. This is true, also, of some other
lists -- but there are those which have [certainly with exceptions] a
definite East Coast tilt. This is obviously inadvertant -- but there can be
"regional mis-readings." When, several weeks ago, I posted an interesting
historical/contemporary piece on the very complex Western polygamy issues
[presently very heated indeed] on several lists, it was received with
interest and appreciation by many -- but, on ASDnet and SocUnity, at least
one person very vocally viewed it as a deliberate effort "to stir up
controversy." Well, we does our best -- but you can't win'em all.
This so-called "House Western Caucus" -- focused greedily, among other
things, on our national forests [Forest Service] and park lands [Park
Service] and other public Federal lands [Bureau of Land Management] and on
Indian lands and resources as well, is simply the newest in a very long
series of land and resource grabbing schemes. [Much of this, BTW, has roots
in the East and even abroad.]
As always, these things warrant continual, ever-vigilant scrutiny. ["Ride
the fence-lines, folks!"] I should say at the outset that I am not against
all lumbering or metal mining by any means [ how could I be, I've worked in
those settings --although I'm certainly completely against any uranium
mining, milling, refining. ] My Anglo mother came out of an old Western
ranching family. There are ways of doing these things -- essentially
reasonable ways. [But bona fide socialist democracy, of course, is the most
reasonable context of all!]
Given the historic and currently voracious appetites of the corporations,
their traditional relationship with public lands/resources -- and with
Indian lands -- has at best been an armed truce. And, for at least the past
two or three generations, it's been more and more of an open war. If the
Clinton administration was, despite its friendly-media hype, a fair-weather
friend of the Native people and conservationists et al., the Bush entourage
is obviously an open foe.
In addition to just plain grassroots Native power, Indian country -- Indian
lands -- are mostly protected [albeit uneasily] by the special Federal
treaty/trust relationship grounded on Article 1, Section 8 ["commerce
clause" and general Federal primacy in Indian affairs] and Article 6,
Section 2 [ all treaties made by the US government are part of "the supreme
law of the land"] of the US Constitution; by the general exclusion of state
jurisdiction via Worcester v. Georgia 1832 [Cherokee Nation] and a myriad
more of comparable decisions -- and embodied [for better and worse] in the
U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. But, despite all of these bulwarks and more,
Indian land and resources are under constant attack [ and the Bush
administration is, as I've just noted, an open foe of Native interests ] --
and Indian people and our allies are constantly maintaining extreme
Lately, our enemies have focused mostly on trying to block land-claims cases
brought by various tribal nations -- and the generally paltry "settlements"
eventually secured. In all of this, too, the foes have generally been
unsuccessful -- but constant Native scouting and scrutiny in this realm are
also the absolute rule. The enemies have been somewhat more successful in
trying to impede Native water rights [guaranteed in treaties and via the
almost century old Winter v. US decision] by blocking and diverting the
water when its respective headwaters and initial flow are located in
But the most open goal right now -- as discussed in the following news
piece -- are the public lands of the West. The major coveting interests
are not so much the small or middle-sized ranchers. [Grazing and water
leases are now generally 25 years, in contrast to the 99 years of the
obvously much older Taylor Grazing Act.] The basic enemies are the mineral
corporations -- e.g., oil and gas, metal, coal; the lumber and sawmill and
pulp outfits; the big "recreational" and "development" companies. None of
these are -- or ever have been -- content with "reasonable" solutions. They
want it all. And fast.
It's an on-going fight and the Native Americans and the Real Westerners and
the Real People generally -- in contrast to these greedy predatory outfits
and their allies in Washington -- can use all the help we-all can get in
protecting these very vital sections of our turf.
It's an intensive fight -- always.
As I entered my teen years in Northern Arizona, a big kid, I had no
difficulty at all in that laid-back era in representing myself as 18 years
old when I was years short of that point. No problems -- people "in the
know" simply grinned -- and one of the arenas I went into full-force in the
years before I entered the Army was fire-fighting for the US Forest Service.
[ A great many Indian people have traditionally worked in that dramatic and
well-paying endeavour. It's also egalitarian: a forest fire really doesn't
care one way or another about your respective ethnicity. And the woodsmoke
and ash make everyone look very, very black.]
At 17, I ran a major fire and radio lookout on the Coconino National
Forest. Close friends of mine had fathers who were regular USFS employees.
But I can remember when, at the obvious instigation of two lumber
companies -- Saginaw and Manistee, and Southwest -- an excellent district
ranger and a dedicated conservationist was suddenly transferred out of the
Coconino into the "Siberia" of USFS Region 3: the old Apache National
Forest. That ranger, half a century ago, had been a sharp and effective
foe of ruthless lumber company expansion. "They" did a hatchet job on him --
but he certainly continued his vigorous conservationist activities on the
The predatory scope and the ruthlessness are now far, far greater than they
were 'way back in those far-away days -- infinitely more so.
I should add that Bureau of Land Management turf -- public turf -- begins
only a good stone's throw from my present back door here in Idaho.
[Hunter Gray [Hunterbear] Micmac / St Francis Abenaki / St Regis Mohawk --
and DSA, SPUSA, CCDS -- and three labor unions]
House caucus raising profile of West issues
Source: Las Vegas Reveiw Journal
Author: CHRISTINE DORSEY
Lawmakers promoting property rights, access to public lands and local
By CHRISTINE DORSEY
DONREY WASHINGTON BUREAU
WASHINGTON -- Members of the revitalized House Western Caucus carry a map of
the United States checkered in bright red and blue wherever they go: to the
White House, the Interior Department or the Capitol Hill offices of House
leaders shaping the Republican agenda.
The map is a colorful reminder of which counties voted for George W. Bush
and which ones did not.
A rich red hue representing Bush dominates hundreds of rural counties west
of the Mississippi River. Many of them are represented by Republicans who
say their constituents don't much like the federal government telling them
where they can graze their cattle, where they can mine for gold or which
critters have the power to stop them from using the land that surrounds
"We think we're good critters, too," said Rep. John Peterson, R-Pa.,
communications chairman for the House Western Caucus. Though his district is
in the East, Peterson said he shares many of the same concerns as his
This fall, Peterson, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., the new caucus chairman,
and more than 40 other Republicans reorganized the Western Caucus in hopes
of turning it into a force to promote property rights, more access to public
lands and local control over how those lands are managed.
The lawmakers believe mining, grazing, logging and other industries that
depend on public lands were denied a seat at the table during the Clinton
years, and the Western Caucus intends to pull them up some chairs.
"We need a strong rural, Western voice," said Peterson, who argued that
during the Clinton administration, national environmental groups drowned out
the voices of small-town America.
"We're going to try to fight back," he said.
The first order of business, said caucus members, is to get rid of
Clinton-era civil servants working in agencies that regulate the West --
mostly within the Interior and Agriculture departments.
"A lot of members are frustrated," said Matt Miller, caucus executive
director who works out of Pombo's office.
Career managers put into place by the Clinton administration continue to
carry out an agenda not shared by the Bush administration, Miller said. "In
some districts, priorities are being ignored," he said. "What we've got is a
complete philosophy of the Clinton administration embedded now in the middle
management of these agencies, and they're running head-first as quickly as
they can to do as much as they can before the door closes on them," said
caucus member Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.
Gibbons cited a recent decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service to grant
emergency Endangered Species Act protection to the Carson Wandering Skipper,
a small, orange butterfly found only in Washoe County and Lassen County,
Gibbons complained the decision left out local input.
"It has dramatic impact on use of private and public lands in that area,"
Gibbons said. "I mean, it was listed I believe with the subtle hope of
putting ranchers out of business up there."
Gibbons has fielded calls and e-mails from constituents unhappy with the
decision, and is looking into the matter, said his spokesman, Robert
Uithoven. Asked if Gibbons wants to remove Bob Williams, the Fish and
Wildlife Service manager responsible for the area, Uithoven said, "No
Randi Thompson, a spokeswoman for the Reno office of the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Office, said the decision was based on recommendations made by
local officials, and that Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed off on it as
part of an agreement with environmentalists over a lawsuit to list several
Gibbons and other caucus members have met with Vice President Dick Cheney,
White House congressional liaison Nick Calio and a handful of political
appointees within the Interior and Agriculture departments to talk about
endangered species listings, forest management and other issues.
"The White House is very interested in working with the Western Caucus,"
Miller said. "I strongly believe we're the most powerful caucus in
Environmentalists who generally oppose the group's pro-resource development
agenda are not convinced the lawmakers will make a difference on the House
floor or with the Bush administration because they have not shown the
ability to attract support from beyond the like-minded, especially in the
virtually evenly divided House.
"I don't see it," said Wilderness Society lobbyist Dave Alberswerth. "They
are preaching to the choir."
Alberswerth cited examples of House votes on amendments to the Interior
Department spending bill this year that illustrate a split among the
conservative and moderate arms of the Republican Party.
For instance, 28 Republicans crossed over and voted with Democrats to pass
an amendment blocking the Interior Department from rolling back new
environmental regulations on mining.
"There's an important regional split, and maybe that's what the Western
Caucus is trying to address," Alberswerth said, noting most of the moderate
Republicans are from the Northeast and Midwest.
U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., said the caucus is not going to sway
"Honestly, I don't think this caucus will change voting behavior on the
floor," Inslee said. "They're not going to convince suburban Republicans
from Philadelphia and New Jersey to vote against the environment. It's not
in their self-interest."
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
www.hunterbear.org (social justice)
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