20th Anniversary - Exxon Oil Spill - Chiefs Push For Recognition Of Virginia Tribes
Tuesday, March 24 will mark the twentieth anniversary of the disastrous Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska.
I invite you to join us as we commemorate one of the worst environmental disasters in our nation's history with 2020 Arctic Vision Film Fests at locations around the country. We'll show short documentary and activist films about the current state of America's Arctic as well as interviews with today's young people who provide a ray of hope for the future.
It was early in the morning on March 24, 1989, when the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef and spilled nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil, covering nearly 11,000 square miles of ocean. Despite devastating results that are still being felt today, oil and gas development continues in Alaska – particularly in America's Arctic.
During the eight years of the Bush administration, more than 4 million acres were leased to oil and gas interests in the Arctic Ocean, compared to just 186,000 in the previous eight years.
America's Arctic is a diverse, unique and fragile ecosystem. Alaska Natives have been relying on its natural resources for thousands of years. Another Exxon Valdez-type spill must not take place in America's Arctic. Now is the time to take a step back, study this amazing ecosystem, and create a comprehensive conservation and energy development plan.
Visit alaskawild.org/visionfest for more information
Films will be shown in the following cities on Tuesday, March 24 (except where noted):
Anchorage, AK (to be held Mon, Mar 23)
Santa Fe, NM
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One of the easiest and most important ways that you can make a difference is by spreading the word. Send this email to your friends and family and encourage them to get involved in the fight to protect wild Alaska.
Keep up the pressure: Halt drilling in 'Polar Bear Seas'
Many new legislators don't have these critical facts: Before leaving office, George W. Bush authorized an expanded drilling zone in the Arctic Ocean that contains the entire American population of polar bears.
The government's own experts predict a 40 percent chance of a major oil spill in the Chukchi Sea alone, yet Big Oil admittedly lacks the technical ability to clean up a spill in the Arctic's icy conditions.
Your support is crucial in the fight to halt further Arctic drilling. We have fresh faces in Washington and we have the facts, but we need your support to connect the two. We've already held more than 150 meetings with Congress and the new administration this month, and we have an ambitious plan to keep up the pressure.
In the waning days of their administration, George Bush and his cronies attempted to push through one more favor for Big Oil — a new plan to open broad swaths of the outer continental shelf (OCS) of the United States to oil and gas development.
This plan threatened to put our nation's coasts, beaches, ocean life and coastal economies in great danger. It also attempted to open up even more of America's Arctic Ocean to drilling — adding further stress to polar bears, walrus, bowhead and beluga whales and Alaska native cultures that have lived off these waters for thousands of years.
Thankfully, since the Obama administration took over, cooler heads have taken charge. Secretary Ken Salazar recently announced that the Department of the Interior will take a step back to fully consider the plan's immense risks to our nation's precious ocean waters.
He extended the plan's public comment period and is conducting four regional public hearings across the country next month. Sec. Salazar will personally attend the following public hearings:
Atlantic City, NJ - April 6
New Orleans, LA - April 8
Anchorage, AK - April 14
San Francisco, CA - April 16
Alaska's national treasures are your lands and waters. This is your chance to have your voice heard by the Secretary of the Interior himself. Alaska Wilderness League is working hard to build a chorus of voices for Alaska at each of these meetings. We'll show the broad support across America for conserving America's Arctic fragile ecosystem and we'll advocate against Bush's plan for a massive expansion of drilling.
If you would like to help with these hearings or are planning to attend yourself, please drop us an email [email@example.com].
Please contribute to support our efforts today!
Online Communications Coordinator
Alaska Wilderness League
Alaska Wilderness League,
122 C St. NW Suite 240,
Washington, DC 20001
CHIEFS PUSH FOR RECOGNITION OF VIRGINIA TRIBES
From The American Indian Report
By Joanne Kimberlin
The Virginian-Pilot© March 19, 2009
They've been here before, to this marbled city, this gilded room. So often over the past 10 years that they've lost track of exactly how many times they've made their case to Congress.
Nevertheless, Virginia's Indian chiefs journeyed to Washington on Wednesday to tell their stories again, hoping that this time would be different.
They're asking for federal recognition and the benefits - such as education, housing and health care assistance - that come along with the official stamp.
Such decisions traditionally lie with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That path, however, can take decades. The application list is long, and standards are stringent. Tribes must prove they've been in continuous existence for at least a century.
Virginia tribes say that's nearly impossible for them. State officials in the 1920s began systematically changing birth, death and marriage certificates to reclassify resident Indians as "colored."
The only remedy, the Indians say, lies here, with an act of Congress. This is the fifth time that U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, a Democrat from Alexandria, has sponsored legislation on behalf of the roughly 3,000 Indians who make up the Chickahominy, Chickahominy Eastern Division, Upper Mattaponi, Rappahannock, Monacan and Nansemond tribes.
Wednesday's hearing was before the House Natural Resources Committee. A vote by the committee, taken weeks or months from now, will determine whether Moran's bill makes its way to the full House. In 2007, the House passed this bill's predecessor but the Senate let it die in committee.
Concerns about casino-style gambling - an option that often comes with federal recognition - have blocked the bill in the past. It's now crafted to prevent gaming on tribal lands. Opponents say they also worry about being fair to the hundreds of other tribes waiting in line at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine spoke in support of Virginia tribes, pointing out that 562 other tribes are federally recognized. Kaine called it "especially tragic" that none in Virginia share that designation.
Many Virginia Indians are the descendants of the Powhatan tribes. Their ancestors were the ones who helped the first colonists survive at Jamestown.
"Let us, once and for all, honor their heritage," Kaine said.
Looking back is well and good, said Stephen Adkins, chief of the Chickahominy: "Recognition acknowledges that we were here first, we are still here, and we have a unique position within the fabric of this nation."
But now, it's "about the future more so than it is about the past."
Joanne Kimberlin, (757) 446-2338,
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