"OLD FLAGSTAFF," AND KCLS RADIO [Hunter Gray 1/10/02] UPDATED 2/22/07
Native Tribes and People, Lands and Resources -- and the Predatory Forces [And the Bingaman Indian Energy Bill] Hunter Gray 1/07/02
Note by Hunterbear:
Although I'm posting today's [January 7] Albuquerque Journal article
dealing with the somewhat hopeful Indian energy development bill introduced
by U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman [D-New Mexico], I do have some very necessary
background and interpretative context:
First, Native Americans [and Fourth World tribal peoples generally] aren't
capitalists -- either "natural" [if there really are such creatures] or
"conditioned." Oh, there are exceptions, to be sure. But tribes, by their
very real and enduring nature, are communalistic -- communistic, if you
will -- and the basic cultural ethos lies in serving one's community rather
than serving one's self.
Beginning in the very early 1970s, I was a board member of a valiant,
all-Indian inter-tribal effort -- spearheaded by an excellent and dedicated
servant of the Indian people, Willard LaMere [Winnebago], which had as its
primary thrust tribally owned and operated economic development. It was an
altruistic, not-for-profit endeavor -- and, in fact, I was instrumental in
its getting 501 [c]  status from IRS via working with law students at the
University of Iowa. [I was a professor in the UI Graduate Program in Urban
and Regional Planning which was formally linked with Law.] Once launched,
however, our Native efforts in this arena [one of a number of such
endeavours nationally] had predictably tough going -- with the Federal
government displaying its usual consistent and singular disinterest in
tribal economic operation. Little funding was ever forthcoming from that
direction. We did receive some from private sources and were able to
accomplish some positive things in implementing our mission. But our
particular effort -- and others -- did not survive the decade.
The basic, enduring commitment of Native people and Native nations is to
family and tribe and tribal culture -- and their basic policy thrust is the
preservation and expansion of Indian lands, the preservation and maintenance
and implementation of treaty rights, the recovery of lost dimensions of
sovereignty, and the development and achievement of genuinely functional
And where Native people and interests are involved, the basic and enduring
commitment of the Dark Forces -- capitalism and its governmental and other
allies in both the United States and Canada et al. -- is to eliminate
Native people in the socio-cultural sense and to end treaty obligations and
to secure remaining Native lands and resources. This is as axiomatic as the
existence of the class struggle. And this is certainly the plight of
Fourth World people in the Hemisphere and in much of the rest of the world.
From a Native perspective, one of the most critical needs in Indian country
is tribally owned and controlled and operated economic development -- within
the framework of the respective tribal culture. And this has been a more or less "formal" policy vision of the occasionally better forces in Indian Affairs ever since the Indian New Deal of John Collier -- during most of the FDR
administration: e.g. Indian Reorganization Act [1934.]
But, given the relentless and predatory thrusts of the Dark Forces --
capitalism and company -- the matter of developing Indian
tribally-owned/controlled/operated economic development has often been
tougher going than peach orchards in North Dakota or fish farms in the
Funeral Mountains of Death Valley. In the "old days" -- not very long ago at
that -- the ever-obliging U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs [vested with
ostensible trust responsibility for Native land and resources and general
Indian well-being] unilaterally and routinely leased those Indian lands and
resources to non-Indian corporations on terms extremely advantageous to the
Now, after much Native struggle, it's somewhat better: Tribes are a part of
the decisional process -- and, for the last twenty years or so, tribes can
levy taxes on non-Indian outfits doing business on their respective
reservation. But, all of this notwithstanding, it's still mostly the
non-Indian, corporate forces that are entering Indian country to develop and
market and profiteer -- that which belongs to the Native people.
In addition to all of that, there's also another dimension of continuing
controversy: The non-Indian resource development forces are certainly
guided to the letter by that consistent capitalistic beacon: exploit
whatever -- land and people -- for maximum profit. Nothing more and nothing
less: ravaged and poisoned land -- and people drained and dead.
The Native view, of course, is to use the land carefully and respectfully
within the framework of the Creator's Plan. This certainly precludes much
"mineral development" such as strip and open-pit mining -- and sometimes
underground mining -- and occasionally drilling for oil and gas. Grazing
and lumber resources, from a Native perspective, are almost always handled
with great care.
But again, Native efforts to develop tribally owned/controlled/operated
resources have had a very tough row to hoe and most of the tribal
enterprises have been, through no fault of the Indians, relatively minimal.
The Federal government, virtually always moist clay where corporate
interests are concerned, has never been willing to meet its obligation
[essentially one of many treaty obligations] to provide the tribes with the
funds for bona fide and meaningful economic development.
In the last generation, especially, those few tribes able to get substantive
land claims settlements [e.g., the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy Abenaki
nations of Maine -- and others] have invested in tribal land purchase and
land use and tribal businesses. In other instances where tribal casinos have
developed [almost always quite controversial in tribal settings -- if not
downright stormy], revenues have supplemented critical tribal services [now
often being cut-back by the Feds in de facto treaty violations] and have
occasionally been sufficient to seed a few tribal business enterprises.
In this context, the Indian energy resources bill just introduced into
Congress by New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman is worth watching carefully.
It obviously leans heavily in the direction of tribally
owned/controlled/operated energy resources -- and it would serve the
interests of Native energy consumers as well. And it seeks to do all of
this with great sensitivity to Native cultural concerns -- placing, among
other things, considerable emphasis on Sun and Wind as power sources.
It's a bill worth watching. If it remains relatively "pure," then it's
worth supporting -- as an essentially positive step.
What will happen to this bill in that jungle of human and institutional
predators into which it's now been formally introduced is -- well, highly
speculative. The Bush administration's response to it is, at this incipient
juncture, pro forma polite -- but those forces are certainly talking up
"business involvement. " And, obviously, that's not just a pervasive
Most Democrats in the House and Senate are certainly in the same corporate
canoe -- on the same River of No Return.
That's why many of us humans are socialists -- and that's why, as an Indian,
I happen to think, always, that Native tribes and people will fare far
better under bona fide socialist democracy than we ever will under
And again I say: The Dark Forces always -- in both the U.S. and Canada --
are the corporate and land interests and their mainline political allies. It is
these that, among other things, are seeking an end to the "Indian / Native
problem" and it is these that covet always Native American land and
Again, this is as axiomatic as the existence of the class struggle.
And, just as basic, is the fact that oppressed people -- whoever they are,
anywhere -- have to organize and fight with cunning and determination and
militancy to safeguard their rights and to expand those rights: always and
always toward the Sun.
Watch things keenly and carefully -- always and forever -- as does the
great Toltec deity, Tezcatlipoca, whose black and vigilant obsidian eyes see
everything in the Universe simultaneously.
And never stop fighting.
In Solidarity -
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Monday, January 7, 2002
Bingaman Energy Bill Would Help Tribes
By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - America's Indian reservations have vast supplies of untapped
energy, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman is urging the federal government to help the
tribes harvest it.
Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee, unveiled last month a bill with wide-ranging solutions
to America's energy problems.
Included are proposals to help tribes help themselves, and their country, by
producing more oil, gas, wind and solar power and creating markets for those
"There is a lot of potential for increased production," Bingaman said in an
interview last week. "I see it as a win-win arrangement. It's good for the
tribes to get the revenue ... and it's also good for the country because we
need the energy."
The U.S. Department of the Interior has estimated that only 25 percent of
the oil and less than one-fifth of all natural gas reserves on tribal land have
been developed. About 90 American Indian tribes have energy resources,
including oil, gas, coal, wind, solar and geothermal, according to the
Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Bingaman's bill aims to help the tribes in two fundamental ways. It would
give tribal economies a boost by increasing the production and sale of Indian
energy resources. But just as important, Bingaman said, are provisions to bring
more low-cost power to Indian consumers themselves.
More than 14 percent of all Native American homes have no electricity,
compared with only 1.4 percent of all U.S. households, according to the U.S.
Department of Energy. The situation is even worse on the sprawling Navajo Reservation, where approximately 37 percent of the homes have no electricity.
David Lester, executive director of the Denver-based Council of Energy
Resource Tribes, said tribes can't flourish economically until they have reliable,
affordable electricity. Bingaman's bill would address the problem in part by
helping tribes gain easier access to electrical power grids through
financial incentives and technical assistance.
"We need an additional focus on making sure the tribes have an adequate
electricity supply for their own use and development," Lester said.
Many Native American leaders in New Mexico and around the country are
excited about the proposals in Bingaman's bill.
Merle Pete, a spokesman for the Navajo Nation, said the bill would help his
tribe, which has long relied on oil and gas extraction as a source of
income, expand into other realms of energy production, such as wind, solar or
"We want to go into other areas and it does give an opportunity to expand
into those other areas," Pete said.
Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye, in a speech last month in Denver,
said tapping the potential for energy production in Indian country will require
investment by the federal government.
"The Navajo Nation, along with other Indian nations and tribes, have the
potential to provide energy sources that would allow the United States to be
less dependent on foreign oil," Begaye said. "But to do so, the United
States must be willing to invest in Indian country and assist us in developing our resources."
Bingaman's legislation leans heavily on the U.S. Department of Energy for
leadership in that area. The bill would require the agency to create an
Office of Indian Policy and Programs, which would be responsible for creating grant and loan programs to support new tribal energy development. That office also would be charged with helping to streamline often cumbersome federal
regulations related to energy production on Indian lands.
"I don't anticipate it being a large bureaucracy," Bingaman said of the new
office. "I see the secretary developing this comprehensive energy program
and having people whose responsibility it is to help (the tribes) meet their
A DOE spokeswoman said the department wouldn't comment directly on
Bingaman's bill. An energy bill passed by the Republican-controlled House last year didn't include similar language directed at boosting Indian energy production.
But in a speech at an Interior Department National Indian Energy Summit in
Denver last month, Secretary Gale Norton said the Bush administration is
eager to help Indians produce more energy.
"We will explore exciting partnerships between the tribes, businesses and
government to help develop and market tribal resources," Norton told the
Bingaman said he doesn't expect partisan wrangling over the idea of boosting
energy production in Indian country. He said the legislation is in sync with
President Bush's repeated call for more domestic energy production.
"It's very consistent with what the administration has talked about in its
energy plan," Bingaman said.
The legislation would help create markets for tribal-produced energy in part
by allowing federal agencies to give preference to tribes or tribal businesses
when purchasing power. Carson Vicente, a member of northern New Mexico's
Jicarilla Apache Tribal Council, said such incentives would help tribes
compete with established industry players.
"The tribes are in need of these types of incentives to get us on the right
track," Vicente said.
The Jicarilla Apache tribe is believed to be New Mexico's most prolific oil-
and gas-producing tribe. Most Indian governments don't make their financial
records public, but Vicente said oil and gas revenues are the cornerstone of
his tribe's operating budget.
In 1999, Indian lands generated 9.3 million barrels of oil, almost 300
billion cubic feet of gas and 21.4 million short tons of coal. Over the past 20
years, American Indian lands have contributed about 11 percent of all coal and
onshore oil and gas production in the United States, according to the Department of the Interior.
In New Mexico, Indian tribes account for 3 percent of the oil and gas
produced in the state, according to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. Bob Gallagher, president of the association, said Bingaman's bill could help
double the amount of oil and gas generated by New Mexico tribes.
"Indian land is very important to the oil and gas industry, and we think we
need to increase production," Gallagher said.
Gallagher also said the bill would be helpful in eliminating some
bureaucratic red tape that can hinder a company's willingness to lease tribal lands for energy production. He said that, often, the headache and cost of leasing Native American land forces prospectors to look elsewhere.
"Any time the government will attempt to remove roadblocks, we think it's a
positive for the industry," Gallagher said.
Kevin Gover, a Pawnee Indian and former director of the federal Bureau of
Indian Affairs under President Clinton, said Native American land is ripe
for not only oil and gas production, but wind and solar uses. He said many
reservations are in regions with sun and wind that could be harnessed with
investment in technology.
"Certainly, there are some energy resources on the reservations that have
not been tapped," Gover said. "The potential for alternative energy
(development) is vast."
He also said Indian land is attractive for all types of energy production
because it is often in remote areas that won't trigger lots of public
controversy about development.
"American Indians and Alaska Natives actively embrace renewable energy,"
Norton said in her Denver speech last month. "The technologies have the potential to generate power for thousands, if not millions, of American homes."
However, the administration has been adamant that renewable energy could
only realistically meet a small portion of America's overall energy needs.
Many tribes might prefer to tap into sun, wind and other natural elements
rather than drill for oil and gas, which carries inherent environmental
risks, Gover said.
"Tribes take environmental quality much more seriously than other places,"
Gover said. "With every tribe I know of that has considered (increasing
energy production), the environment is a primary consideration."
Lester, of the Council of Energy Resource Tribes, said Bingaman's bill
represents a significant step forward for tribes that now are only on the
fringe of the energy industry.
"It doesn't move us to the cutting edge, but it brings us into the game as
definite players," Lester said of the bill, which is expected to be debated
in the Senate in early February.
Energy-bill breakdown Some objectives of Sen. Bingaman's Indian energy plan:
* Establish an Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs in the U.S.
Department of Energy to help tribes meet their own energy needs and make
money through increased energy production.
* Streamline the rules and regulations for permitting, leasing and siting
energy development on Indian lands.
* Require federal review of laws related to Indian energy and suggest ways
to remove barriers to development and encourage more production of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, on Indian land.
* Require various Federal Power Marketing Administrations to give Indian
tribes technical assistance in using high-voltage transmission lines for delivery
of electrical power.
* Provide incentives, such as federal grants, to encourage development of
renewable energy sources on tribal land.
* Require the federal government to purchase at least 10 percent of the
renewable energy it uses from Native American producers.
* Find ways to help tribes gain easier, cheaper access to electric
and distribution systems.
Copyright 2002 Albuquerque Journal
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
"OLD FLAGSTAFF," AND KCLS RADIO [Hunter Gray 1/10/02] UPDATED 2/22/07
NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR [FEBRUARY 22 2007]:
Dear Rustywire and Hunterbear,
I am Charles J. Saunders, Sr. who built radio station KCLS.I put it on the air August 8, 1950 and operated it till 1984. I enjoyed the article by Hunterbear, "Old Flagstaff, and KCLS Radio" --1/10/02; as well as Rustywire's article �Navajo Hour� and thought I should throw a little more information your way.
Former Chairman of the Navajo tribe, Raymond Nakai was on the air in the beginning until he became Tribal Chairman. It was then that Danny Deschinny ran the program until he went to Washington, DC and studied to be a lawyer which he became and went back to the Navajo Reservation where he practiced his art. Coming back one night from Gallop, Danny apparently suffered a heart attack in his pick up truck. He was taken home where he apparently passed away.I cared deeply for both of these men.To me they were as fine as they come.
Raymond Nakai�s son enjoys great popularity playing his flute. Danny Deschinny�s sons are successfully employed in the electronic world.Danny�s wife is noted for those beautiful colored charts.
If you are ever in this area, I would enjoy taking you to lunch and talking over the old days.
Charles J. Saunders, Sr.; Scottsdale (Arizona resident from 1948, former Mayor of Flagstaff 1958)
AND HUNTER BEAR'S LETTER TO CHARLES SAUNDERS:
Dear Buzz Saunders:
[Scroll a bit down for the KCLS pieces etc -- H.]
Note By Hunterbear:
The Navajo Nation is almost 19 million acres in geographical size -- mostly
in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico [with a small portion in
southeastern Utah and just a bit in southwestern Colorado. Tribal
membership, most but not all of which is on or very close to the
reservation, now exceeds 250,000. The Navajo are very much intact
socio-culturally: family/extended family, clan structures -- with much of
the traditional culture to the fore.
Key bordertowns are Flagstaff, Winslow, and Holbrook in Arizona and Gallup
and Farmington in New Mexico. Flagstaff ["Flag" as we generally refer to
it] is my home town and our family has always been consistently and deeply
involved with the Southwestern tribes. I grew up very much among the Navajo
especially, and much also with the Laguna [ a New Mexico Pueblo nation.]
This account, by the well known and gifted Navajo story teller, Rusty Wire,
focuses on the good work of Flagstaff radio station KCLS, and provides some
excellent insights into Navajoland and its people and culture.
I can't remember precisely when KCLS radio started up in Flagstaff but it
was soon after World War II. It was certainly there for the Winter of
1948-49 when 17 feet of snow fell in three weeks -- and then more came. [I
had to shovel a great deal of that.] In those days, positive media coverage
of Indian people was rare in any of those border towns. At Flag, the
newspaper, Arizona Daily Sun, owned and edited by Platt Cline was solidly
good. Radio stations either ignored Indians or were hostile and crude.
[Because of the mountains, television didn't get to Flagstaff until the late
But when KCLS arrived -- a conventionally broad radio station -- Indians
had something friendly to which to listen. This post by rustywire
discusses one particularly well known Navajo program -- Navajo Hour -- and
its positive effects.
Once, when I was in high school, another radio station interviewed a group
of us about our views on current issues. I was the only Indian in our
little entourage -- and I attacked Christian missionaries on and around
Indian country. On the Saturday evening that that program was due to air,
my folks and I waited by it to hear my first air waves appearance. Instead,
we got a half hour of "Tennessee Ernie." Dad angrily called the station and
was told a "gremlin" had gotten into the works.
KCLS radio certainly broke much positive ground for Indians and other
minorities at and around Flagstaff. In time, things changed [ e.g., the "No
Indians or Dogs Allowed" signs that some of the Flagstaff restaurants had
posted on their front doors came down -- a long, long time ago -- and
there've been many more breakthroughs [much remains, as always, to be
done.] Media at Flag and the other bordertowns generally have gotten
infinitely better on Native issues -- and on other minority matters.
But it was KCLS that blazed a Sunny Trail on the radio front. And, of
course, tough as ever, it still carries on in that big, big corner of
Northern Arizona -- beaming the world around the San Francisco Peaks and
Mount Elden and through the yellow pines and across the sage and Painted
Desert world to many, many ethnicities and cultures
And here's rustywire's excellent account:
In the early morning hours, somewhere near Grand Falls mils North Winslow,
Arizona, in Kaibeto, Gray Mountain, and Lechee on the Navajo Rez, an old
Sanii (grandmother) would turn on the Phlco radio and find KCLS in the wind.
Borden Milk he would say, turn the can around and cut out the coupon on the
back, they were worth a penny a piece. Be sure and save them, Borden Milk,
the best canned milk in Navajoland; they used to pay for the hour slot. Some
people sound good on the radio, their voice carries far, and when they speak you can listen to them all day, they have a voice that lifts you up. He spoke
English well and Navajo even better, he could switch back and forth with ease, it was the voice from a Navajo college student at Arizona State College by the name of Daniel Deschinney. He would come on the air and say, Yahtehee Binaa (Good Morning) Time for Mary Salt to get up, someone needs to go to the Shonto Trading Post and wake her up, go ahead and bang on the door, she might yell around, but tell her her boy friend, Chee Wilson from Leupp said, Get Up Lazy Bones and he would laugh. His voice had a special quality. He would talk about the immunizations for children, the news from the Navajo Tribal Council at Window Rock, the news on the Navajo Hopi land dispute and he would mention the Hualapais from near the Grand Canyon, the folks down in Parker from the Colorado River Tribe, the news from Second Mesa and translate the state and local news into Navajo to let those old Saniis what was going on beyond the horizon. There would be a few Navajo jokes. He was young, with a new wife back then.
There were two tall Navajo boys by the name of Jackson, attending the Flag
Bordertown dorm, they played first string, one of them Leonard was high
scorer in the state basketball tournament playing the monster sized school Phoenix Union, he said they were from Cow Springs, some called it Red Lake, though there was never any water there all year long, just when it rained, it is on the northside of the road halfway between Tuba City and Kayenta, he would
say. He would talk about the scores from Tuba City and how the games turned out. He would mention the song requests for different people, saying this is for
Pearl going to school at the Flagstaff Beauty College from Sharlene at Cameron
store, near Gray Mountain on Highway 89, playing a little Waylon Jennings. He spun tales and talked about little things, like the road conditions on the back
road between Tuba and Kaibeto, that the sand had covered the road so the road had moved west a little bit.
Navajo Hour was the voice of Navajoland back in those days. He would speak
about the upcoming ceremonies and squaw dance notices way out there by
Dilcon, you follow the gravel road to Selba Delkai to the second dip then turn East two miles then turn right at the house with the red roof, Kee Mikes bighan, his place that is where it is at. Then he would talk about the Navajo School Clothing program, about who in each community a person had to see. Then he would talk about the tourists, that over by Skeleton Mesa there was wagon seen with four white horses with New Mexico plates, the wagon had rubber wheels and one of the girls was seen at the armory at the Flag Pow Wow grounds, dancing to Buck Owens, when you see the horse drawn wagon be sure to say hello to Shirleta. Yeeeeeee!!!, he would say.
In 1968 when the snow came and it was four to six feet high and people and
live stock were trapped way out in the middle of nowhere he was their lifeline,
telling them the National Gaurd was flying in food and hay by helicopters,
telling them to lay blankets outside their hogans on the snow and food would
be dropped to them. During the heavy rains when the roads would be washed out he told families to check on each other, and that people in the area would be there to help them. He was the calm voice who like to laugh speaking through the small Philco.
Yes, way out in the boon docks, out by Sand Springs, Shonto, and Cedar
Ridge, the coffee brewed, the potatoes were peeled, biscuits made, corn meal mush boiled and people chopped wood and hauled water to the sound of Daniel Deschinney and his Navajo Hour. It is morning, the sky is still dark but on the East there is a band of light, and I can hear his voice calling
out....Yahtehee Bina...Good Morning...