Navajo's Coal-Powered Desert Rock - 'It's a Go' - South Dakota Rejects Tribal ID Bill
By Kathy Helms
WINDOW ROCK – Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., was congratulated by dozens of Navajo Nation Council delegates shortly after the council voted Friday, 71-8, to approve right-of-way legislation for the Desert Rock Energy Project.
“I'm very happy and elated that the Nation's council voted the way they did,” Shirley said. “That means we can continue to move forward on a massive project that we started a long time ago.”
The President said the vote reiterates the Navajo people's desire to see the Desert Rock project built because it will bring needed jobs to the people, revenues to the Nation, and equity by using the Navajo Nation's own resources of land, water, coal and workers.
He said the vote also sends a positive message to Washington, D.C. In his Tuesday address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama said the United States would invest $15 billion a year to develop energy technologies that included clean coal.
President Shirley said with the Navajo Nation's commitment to a power plant as advanced as Desert Rock, he believed the Navajo Nation could become part of President Obama's strategy.
“I think we have every chance in the world to tap into part of that to look at carbon capture and carbon sequestration,” he said. “I think this plant is to be built with it in mind that if the technology comes around, they'll put it on. So I'm very happy that President Obama is talking clean coal technology, using that to continue to create energy, jobs and revenues.”
Doug MacCourt of the Ater Wynne law firm in Portland, Ore., which represents DPA, called it “a great day for the Navajo Nation.”
“What this is really all about is changing the way energy projects are built in Indian country and outside of Indian Country. We've structured the business deal so we comply with preference in employment, preference in contracting. It is all designed to shift the way these power plants used to be built,” MacCourt said.
When DPA interviewed companies that had the capacity to build a project like Desert Rock, it had three criteria. The company had to have a background in building low-emission, high-tech coal plants; it needed a strong financial partner with the ability to bring $3.5 billion to the project; and it needed to be able to respect tribal courts, tribal laws and write that into the contract, he said.
DPA General Manager Steven Begay was happy with the outcome. “I've been working on this close to 10 years, and this was the fourth piece of legislation that we needed. It's like the fourth leg to a chair – the lease, the tax, and the water are the other three legs, and this right of way is the fourth leg. This project stands on firmer ground to push toward development.”
Herbert Pioche of DPA's board of directors said the project is for the benefit of the Navajo Nation, “for Navajo people for many, many generations. We don't own not 1 percent of the two power plants that are on the reservation. This will be the first time to have an opportunity to have ownership in this new power plant.”
Steven Kee, a resident of Ganado, disagreed with the benefits to the Navajo people. “What the Navajo Nation Council has acted on with Desert Rock, to me, this is just like genocide to the Navajo people, even from our newborns to our elderlies. We need clean air.”
Some believe the best opportunity for economic development will be through Desert Rock; others believe it will be through renewable energy. Not discussed was the demand for the electricity Desert Rock would generate if built given the economic slowdown and a U.S. decline in energy consumption.
COMMITTEE REJECTS TRIBAL IDENTIFICATION CARD BILL
Submitted by Lynn Hart, Yankton Sioux
By David Montgomery
PIERRE — A legislative committee rejected Tuesday a bill aimed at making tribal membership cards valid forms of identification, but opposing legislators said they believe the concept will become law eventually.HB1296, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Fargen, D-Flandreau, would have made a tribal identification card valid in all cases where a South Dakota driver’s license is needed for identification. The House Local Government Committee voted 7-5 to kill the measure after opponents raised objections about security, business rights and feasibility.
The measure was prompted by complaints from some American Indians about businesses not accepting their tribe-issued identification cards for activities such as cashing checks.All tribes provide their members with identification cards, which are used to prove membership in a tribe for receiving certain federal services and scholarships. Under the current system, tribes have broad leeway in what format their card takes.
Currently tribal identification cards are valid forms of identification for some purposes but not others. All tribal ID cards are valid for voter registration and identification. Cards issued by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, under a special agreement between the state and the tribe, are valid as one of two forms of identification to get a driver’s license, but no tribal identification cards can be used for vehicle registration.
Local businesses such as Metro City in Fort Pierre and the Lynn’s Dakotamart liquor store do not accept tribal identification cards for purchases of alcohol or tobacco.“All the training that I’ve had has said it has to be a state- or government-issued ID card,” said Matt Boyd, manager at Jake’s Good Time Place.
Julie Olsen, manager of Direct Check, said they accept tribal identification cards for cashing checks provided the card has both a photo and an expiration date.
Violet Catches, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and a language specialist at the Pierre Indian Learning Center, said many American Indians — particularly older people — may not have identification other than their tribal cards.“This is the only form of ID that some might have to cash checks,” Catches said. “I was born in 1950. Before me, they probably don’t have birth certificates.”
Legislators said they are open to the idea of tribal identification cards counting as valid, but only if the cards are secure against fraud and identity theft.Rep. Tim Rounds, R-Pierre, voted against the bill but said he hopes a more polished form will become law next year.“I believe the language was there, but we need to clean it up,” he said. “It needs to be brought again, but we need to have some testimony, some investigation, some fixes during the off season.”
Copyright © 2009 Capital Journal
Lynn Hart Yankton Sioux wrote on Mar 5, 2009 4:54 PM:
" Proponent of HB 1296 on March 17th this bill needs the support of all SD citizens, I propose a march on Pierre during the 2010 legislative session to send a message to state officials that the tribal IDs will be addressed. It offends me that SD businesses are discriminative against Native citizens buying goods and services. We serve in the military but are separated from participating in commerce. Our right to life and our pursuit of happiness is violated. It's embarrassing as a USMC Vet, we serve our country but our country can't serve us. "
Helen wrote on Mar 5, 2009 1:55 PM:
" The opponents to the bill included a lobbyist on behalf of the retailers association. He was ill-informed about WalMarts conflicting policies in regard to diversity, "we love people of color but we don't accept Tribal ID's to conduct financial transactions but you can use a tribal ID to get a job with us blah blah blah..." He was clueless about the situation that had occured between WalMart and Lynn. I see it as a leadership issue for state and tribally elected officials to see to it that all citizens are treated fairly. The tribal "
Citizen of Cheyenne River wrote on Mar 4, 2009 4:04 PM:
" I'm not native, but i work on a reservation and I think comments like "Citizen of Pierre" are flat out racist. Tribal IDs are the only form of identification that many elders have. Tribal IDs are government issued. When is South Dakota going to join the 21st Century, and treat all its people with respect and dignity? We are stuck, stuck anout 50 years in past and the rest of the world is just passing us by. "
High Head Jim wrote on Feb 27, 2009 8:56 PM:
" I know this problem all too well. The Oklahoma DPS wont accept my Tribal ID as a valid form of ID. The wanna be cops they have hired to validate documentation are very condescending and of no help whatsoever. I was told I couldn't get a replacemnet ID without an acceptable ID, of which I don't have. My wallet was stolen with the proper ID's and I can't replace any of those without a state ID. I guess I 'll cease to officially exist. "
Looking for a winner wrote on Feb 22, 2009 11:28 PM:
" Citizen of Pierre. Wake up. Your abnormal mentality about Natives and no doubt the world, makes an abnormal perspective of which your ignorance pounds with prejudice. Wake up, you might find a bigger world than the box you live in with your fears and superiority complexes. Have you ever lived anywhere else besides Pierre? "
Lisa wrote on Feb 21, 2009 11:53 AM:
" I can't believe how ignorant "citizen of pierre" is. Like white family members don't look alike. Hello! I don't know which tribal id's you were looking at but my tribe and most tribes I know put the DOB on all tri9bal id's. "
Too a Few wrote on Feb 20, 2009 1:54 PM:
" The Tribal ID'S are a valid form of ID. The Police accept them, Voting Registration accepts them. MMMM They are Goverment Issued and a whole lot harder to change. So get off your Prejiduce horse. If you haven't lived on the Rez then don't tell me that we need a state ID. I am a business owner and I still accept the ID's Leg. law or not. "
Citizen of Humanity wrote on Feb 20, 2009 11:06 AM:
" I get where you're coming from! There are so many white, black, Asian, Hispanic, Jewish, Hutterite families in which many family members look too much like each other that state issued IDs can be exchanged among them. Citizen of Pierre exhibits the normal ignorance that pervades South Dakota squatters that is abnormal. "
vicki wrote on Feb 19, 2009 9:08 PM:
" Treat all people alike. If non native americans need picture id's. Then all people need them. Natives are no different then anyone else. "
pat wrote on Feb 19, 2009 7:41 PM:
" First of all as Native Americans, we are "normal" people. We are not Less than you. Second of all read up on Native Americans and the view the United States government took with tribes, and you will learn about what kind of relationship the United States government has with tribes. Third, We do not all look alike. This is a very ignorant statement. Do you think all white people look alike? Lastly, there has to be some give and take. Like negotiating a card that is acceptable with perhaps more mutual defining data. Tribes are soverign countries, USA. "
citizen of Pierre wrote on Feb 19, 2009 4:12 PM:
" If we are going t accept tribal IDs as a valid form of an Id, then they need to have all the informaiton on them such as a birthdate. Otherwise there is no legal way to tell if a person is of legal age to purchase tobaccol and alcohol. As a former C-store attendent, I do not believe that a Tribal ID should ever be considered as VALID. They are too easy to echange between family members that look too much like each other. Why can't the tribal member obtain a State Identification card like any other normal person? "
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