Environmental and tribal groups are urging federal officials to deny preliminary permits for three hydro-storage energy proposals on the Navajo Nation.
As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, they say the projects threaten local water resources and communities.
The projects proposed for Black Mesa near the town of Kayenta on the Navajo Nation would include several dams and eight reservoirs.
A French company called Nature and People First wants to use hundreds of thousands of acre-feet from the Colorado and San Juan rivers and two local aquifers, but it’s unclear whether they have the rights.
Tribal groups opposing the projects say decades of coal mining have depleted groundwater that supplies local communities.
Nicole Horseherder is the executive director of the group Tó Nizhóní Ání.
“That’s water that we can’t give up, that’s water that we can’t spare, that’s water that we cannot allow someone else to use again. We have to keep it, we have to protect it. We have got to fight for what we have left.”
The groups say the projects could also displace residents and destroy land, pre-historic sites, and endangered animal habitat.
In a December filing, the Navajo Nation Department of Justice also opposed the projects.
Hydro-storage has been touted as a green energy source to augment wind and solar. But other such projects proposed on tribal lands in northern Arizona have been met with stiff resistance from conservation groups and Indigenous peoples.
The University of California San Diego is enhancing community spaces for Native students.
Among plans for this year – advancing research led by Indigenous scholars and hosting Indigenous youth to see what the university has to offer.
The Intertribal Resource Center, which serves as a space for students to connect and find belonging, is expanding with a new location and more staff.
In the spring, the campus will host the Dream the Impossible Youth Conference with more than 500 middle and high school students.
There are also new Native studies programs and a Native public art program.
University leaders say the enhancements help connect and support the Native community.
The university, located in San Diego County, is home to 18 reservations – the most in any county in the United States.
Wells Fargo has announced a $20 million commitment to advance economic opportunities in tribal communities by working with Native organizations.
The initiative Invest Native addresses housing, small business, financial health, and sustainability.
Tribal communities taking part in the program are located in Arizona, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
In the next two years, Invest Native seeks to advance housing, help small businesses access capital, strengthen infrastructure for Native organizations, and invest in training and research.
The first Native-led organizations to receive $500,000 grants are Lakota Funds, Native Community Capital, and Four Bands Community Fund.
IllumiNative, a racial and social justice organization, is debuting the Indigenous House at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT.
The Indigenous House will be a gathering place recognizing and celebrating Native creatives, artists, and industry leaders who are helping to advance Native representative in film and television.
A mix of events are scheduled to take place at the Indigenous House including panel discussions about the importance of Native visibility in the entertainment industry.
A number of Indigenous storytellers are taking part in the film festival.
Some of the Indigenous films premiering are “Bad Press” about the fight for free press in Indian Country; “Fancy Dance”, a family drama; and “Murder at Big Horn”, following the deaths of a group of Native women in Montana.
The film festival begins on Thursday.
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