Friday, March 22, 2013
Ward Valley 15th Anniversary Ceremony, Feb 10, 2013
Dark Medallion, Quarter Moon
--At the 15th anniversary of the defeat of a proposed radioactive waste facility in Ward Valley, an area of the Mojave Desert sacred to the Colorado River Indian people, February 10, 2013.
Near Interstate 40,
A few miles along Water Road,
In the heart of the Mojave
The deceased ancestors walk through
Ward Valley, 60 miles long
Until they reach the Milky Way
In the throat of the Turtle Mountains
And the wildcats and coyotes
Mark their paw print time
Near the Old Woman Rock Tower,
And the villagers grind grain on stone
On a February morn, before
Calendars are born. One soft moccasin
Is left behind, and it's advised
To follow the turtle for long life.
Cars speed by, stars wink goodnight,
The fire keeper turns, and walks.
--by Ruth Nolan copyright (c) 2013 by Ruth Nolan
A Few Words on the Ward Valley 15th Anniversary Celebration, February 10, 2013...
I was fortunate to be invited to the 15th anniversary celebration of the defeat of a proposed nuclear waste facility in the area designated by the Bureau of Land Mangement as the Heart of the Mojave. The struggle to safeguard this area, sacred to the region's Mojave, Chemehuevi and other desert Indian tribes for centuries and into the present day, attracted local tribal leaders, desert conservationists, international supporters, as well as members of environmental groups such as Green Action, and when defeated, thanks in large part to a 110 day occupancy by protestors in cold winter weather, was heralded as a major victory by environmentalists and anti-nuclear activists worldwide.
The 15th Anniversary celebration of the preservation of Ward Valley was a heart-warming event - under cold, breezy skies on a brisk winter day -, and participants included desert defenders from throughout Southern California, Nevada, Utah, and beyond.
This special day, which included a building of the sacred fire with the Ward Valley rocks that originally contained the continously-burning fire of the Ward Valley Occupation in 1997-98, featured speakers Steven Lopez and Ron Van Fleet, Mojave tribal leaders; Alfredo Figueroa, Chicano-Chemehuevi activist and historian; and a diverse range of environmental activists. The fire, and impassioned speeches, warmed everyone's hearts with the inspiration to know that victories to protect and safeguard the sacred spaces of the California desert are won, however difficult today's path against new and emerging environmental hazards may be.
As we move forward into the 21st century, the California desert - one of the world's few and precious remaining largely intact ecosystems, with a biodiversity quotient second only the the Amazon Rain Forest - new environmental hazards and threats to this pristine region, in particular, the dozens of proposed and under-construction, large-scale industrial solar and wind facilities, which have already proven to cause enormous amounts of non-recoverable degradation and damage to previously intact areas of the Mojave and other deserts in southeastern California and the western U.S.