Waco Wake-Up

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's comments on his "gun-nut conspiracy theorist" friend/candidate Phil Murphy ("Ballot Boxing," October 29): OK, Tom, that's it--you have officially bitten off more than even your prodigious jaws can chew. Usually, I can endure the mushwitted soccer-dad stand-up routines you pass off as editorial comment with little more than a roll of the eyes, but this time your ignorance has truly outdone itself.

Mailbag Having viewed the so-called "X-Files" videotape of our brave federal law enforcement agents emptying their clips into the Davidian compound, I can assure you that you don't need to be a gun-nut, conspiracy theorist or even Libertarian to see it. In fact, said videotape was even reviewed by nearly every member of Congress, who then proceeded to belittle or deny its very existence. Is that where the "X-Files" connotation comes from? Or is it just a convenient label to affix to anything that could potentially disrupt the delicate feng shui of your yuppie fishbowl existence?

But hey, Tom, thanks to the remaining tatters of our civil liberties having been studiously applied by a few dedicated individuals, even someone as far down the mental evolutionary ladder as yourself can watch that videotape and learn the truth. It's part of a documentary released last year called Waco: Rules of Engagement, which includes not only the shooting footage (an aerial view from the government's own spotter plane via a FLIR or Forward-Looking-Infra-Red camera; machine gun fire is seen being sprayed into the burning compound where most of the victims congregated) but loads of other, equally damning evidence (Congressional testimony from witnesses, agents, and survivors, FBI video from within the compound during the siege, 911 audio, etc.). The kind of evidence even a right-wing conspiracy theorist can't fabricate....

So I've got a challenge for you and anybody else who still clutches at the futile delusion that our country isn't yet a police state. If you've got the cojones and/or the grey matter, head on down to the Casa Video at Speedway and Country Club (sorry, Blockbuster and other corporate sucklings won't carry anything that might foment independent thought or controversy), find the documentary section upstairs and, if it's there, take the aforementioned videotape home and watch it with a group of friends who hold similar viewpoints vis-a-vis Waco. If, by the time it's over, any of you can still spout the pathetic government lie about "the-Davidians-did-it-to-themselves" with a straight face, then I will personally buy you breakfast at the greasy spoon of your choice, be it a Waffle House or the Arizona Inn, just so I can find out what passes for humanity and justice in the suburban mind.

If, on the other hand, you find your views on Waco altered, as I did, then write about it, as I have, and help spread the truth like a real member of the Fourth Estate. Otherwise, the only stones you'll be able to lay claim to will be the ones in your wedding ring.

--Chuck Aubrey

Neither A Begger Nor A Batterer Be

To the Editor,

Regarding "Hunger Dogs" (Mailbag, October 29): No wonder the author didn't want her/his name included with the appallingly badly written letter which found excuses for assault and battery. The writer says that anyone "with even cursory training in critical thinking" must perforce agree with him/her. I agree that that writer's "training" in critical thinking must have been very cursory, indeed.

The criminal assault described in Tim Vanderpool's "Anatomy Of A Blunder" (October 8) was in no possible way excusable, yet "name withheld" spends the entire letter making excuses for the assailants.

First of all, you have the absolute right to be "selfish" if you so choose. If someone demands your food or your money or your watch or your car or anything else, you need make no apologies for saying "no," and that should be the end of it. But "name withheld" then goes on to finger-wag at all the rest of us because we don't seem to be as enlightened as he/she is about why people steal. First of all, Mr. or Ms. Withheld, you should apply some more of your (doctorate-level, I'm sure) critical thinking and notice that the three assailants were not pathetic, starving Vietnamese or Cuban boat people who just risked their lives getting here after escaping from their anti-capitalist worker's paradise. The article clearly states that they are violent criminals with records here and in other states. The fact that they spent an enormous amount of time hanging around Fourth Avenue instead of going to a church soup kitchen or some other charity, or (gasp! what a concept!) actually working to earn money for food, emphasizes that they are just lazy, violent bums.

"Name Withheld" apparently wants us to feel guilty (don't hold your breath, pal) because some hungry people may do violent things when they want your food. Hey, a date-rapist uses the same excuse: "Oh, gosh, I'm so sorry, but I'm really the victim here. I wouldn't have had to use violence if I weren't so horny, and if the bitch had put out like I demanded. I mean, how dare she say no?"

Listen, I've been down-and-out, too, but if I didn't have something, I acted like a grown-up (Wow! another new concept to "Name Withheld") and went without. I would suggest that "Withheld" get a job as a jailer or probation officer or a social worker, and then try to find those former bleeding hearts within those professions who have become embittered and hurt and justifiably cynical by the knowledge that there are so many people who are not "unfortunate"; they are instead manipulative, mean, violent, sneaky, completely untrustworthy and astonishingly lazy; and they manipulate and laugh about gullible suckers like "Name Withheld" behind his/her self-righteous, pompous back.

--Gail B. Viator

Death Be Proud

To the Editor,

Regarding "Dead On Parade" (October 29): Thank you for bringing The All Souls Day Procession to the attention of a wider number of the Tucson community. The true spirit of this event lies in the support and participation of the many organizations and individuals who have worked over the past five years to make this event grow. We feel it is important to draw attention and give props, in print, to: The Mat Bevel Institute, Nervous Duane Orkestra, Ace Tomato Co., Poppets Presents, Datura Gallery, the Toole Shed, Zenith Center, Bureau of Ideaphoria, Tucson Fire Society, Tucson Thrift Shop, Burn em up in Effigy co., BICAS, Fourth Avenue Merchants Association, Not Breathing, Club Congress, Rialto Theatre, Susan Johnson, Potential Urge Prod., Taya and crew, Dondi and the Capoeira troupe and so many more folks that we apologize if we have missed.

We feel lucky to live near a culture whose holiday so inspires us. We in no way feel this celebration is meant as an appropriation of a living religion. We see this as an opportunity to come together in all our varied media and create a truly unique expression of the mortality we all share.

--Nadia Hagen

Jeff Thomas

Matt Marcus

Peak Performance

To the Editor,

The Tucson Weekly's Skinny column has seriously misrepresented the Tohono O'odham Nation and our religious interests in "Pastor's Baboquivari Gamble" (October 15). Since 1916, we have struggled to have the eastern side of Baboquivari returned to us. Our struggle is not a matter of "spin"; rather, it is one in which we seek to change historical decisions that effected a loss of our most important spiritual site.

Your article cavalierly states that with the return of Baboquivari to the Tohono O'odham Nation you may be "treated to the Desert Diamond Baboquivari Casino." Your statement implies that we have only one objective--construction of a casino on our most sacred site. You also state that we are "not interested in maintaining the protections now in place" and Congressman Pastor was "flush to hand over the land without any guarantees for environmental protection." These statements are not only false, but in light of the significance of Baboquivari such statements are particularly offensive. What is missing from The Skinny is an objective analysis of the facts that led to H.R. 4119, "The Baboquivari Religious Restoration Act of 1998." Here are the facts.

The entire dispute over Baboquivari originates in 1853 and 1854, with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Gadsden Purchase, which together created the international boundary between the United States and Mexico. The new border also divided our traditional land base and our communities, and brought us into contact with a growing number of non-O'odham.

The period dating from 1854 until 1917 became a desperate time for Tohono O'odham. Only a month after the purchase, Congress authorized the disposition of the public lands to non-O'odham homesteaders, without regard to the rights of the O'odham. Non-O'odham settlers and ranchers forced our people off the lands in the eastern part of our territory and made our people strangers and trespassers in their own land. The findings in the September 10, 1968, decision of the Indian Claims Commission documents this dispossession of our people. One part of the decision notes:

The encroachments by non-Indian settlers after the Gadsden Purchase, was in an important respect distinguishable from Apache raiding. The white man, with the encouragement of the United States government, came there to stay, to settle and make his permanent home.

In belated and inadequate recognition of the desperate condition of Tohono O'odham and the steady intrusion of non-O'odham on our land, efforts were made by the local Indian agent and the Commissioner to provide an adequate land base for the O'odham, despite strong opposition from local white settlers and politicians. In 1912, Special Allotting Agent Aspaas was sent to Arizona to study O'odham land needs and to recommend an adequate reservation. The reservation he recommended included the Baboquivari Peak and range, which was, he stated, absolutely necessary for the O'odham to "continue as a self-supporting race...."

Finally, in 1916 and 1917, our main reservation, which is called the Papago or Sells Reservation, was created by two Executive Orders. It is these Executive Orders which created the problem we attempted to address through H.R. 4119. The original Aspaas recommendation, which included all of Baboquivari Peak and range, was rejected because of the opposition of non-O'odham settlers. As a consequence, the 1917 executive order established the crest of the Baboquivari Mountains as a part of the eastern boundary of our reservation. Without any consultation with, or involvement of, the Tohono O'odham, a boundary line was run right through the center of our most sacred Peak. It was as if a brick wall was constructed right through the center of your most sacred church or temple.

H.R. 4119 did not result from "election-year eagerness," as you suggest. The loss of one-half of our most sacred area has been a wound in the body of our people for over 80 years. Pastor rightfully recognized our wound. Prior to H.R. 4119, we have not fully been able to assert our rights and bring to the attention of the appropriate American officials the injustice done to us. Yet we have always been seeking the return of our sacred area.

In 1990, the eastern half of the Peak and surrounding area was included as a BLM component of the Arizona Desert Wilderness. We took some consolation from the knowledge that at least it would be somewhat protected by BLM from desecration. But, the hearts of our people remain burdened with sadness and grief because Baboquivari still stands divided in two. And yet The Skinny has the audacity to suggest that we would construct a casino on that site?

The Skinny also appears oblivious to the fact that environmental protection has always been a priority for the Tohono O'odham Nation. Articles 16-18 of our Constitution guarantee preservation of our lands and water, and specifically provide for environmental protection. The Administrative Plan for my administration, as passed into law by the Tohono O'odham Legislative Council, requires "(i) environmental protection codes and standards; (ii) research to assess our environment and plan for its protection; and (iii) uniform penalties must be established by statute for any pollution or contamination posing any danger to our natural resources,. the People, the Districts or to the Nation." From these laws and through gaming dollars, we have finally been able to implement environmental protection, filling a gap left by the United States and the State of Arizona.

Implementation of environmental protection came about through a 1997 Resolution of the Tohono O'odham Legislative Council, which established both an Environmental Protection Office (staffed by environmental specialists and planners) and a Solid Waste Management Code. The Solid Waste Management Code is the first comprehensive environmental statute for the Nation and it is devoted to keeping the Nation's lands clean. The Code also established an Environmental Trust Fund from which environmental damage fines deposited into the fund would pay for environmental clean up operations. Establishing both the Code and our EPO, however, was almost entirely an O'odham effort.

Where the states have received huge amounts of federal environmental dollars, it has only been in the last five to six years that the tribes generally and the Nation specifically have been able to access some of that money. Federal funds do not pay for all our environmental efforts. Our Solid Waste Regulatory Office and Solid Waste Management Program, for example, are solely funded by gaming dollars with over $1 million for operations and $800,000 in equipment. We made this investment because we--not the United States, Arizona, Pima or Maricopa Counties, or the Tucson Weekly--are the only ones interested in and committed to environmental protection on our lands.

Our commitment to environmental protection was embodied in H.R. 4119 and our Baboquivari Peak Wilderness Land Use Management Plan. Where The Skinny falsely states that we are "not interested in maintaining the protections now in place," the truth of the matter is that we will maintain the same protections utilized by the BLM. Our Plan in fact requires that the Nation "will manage [the eastern portion of Baboquivari]...As a wilderness area under the provisions, requirements, and use restrictions applicable to lands that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System managed by the [BLM]."

Unlike the BLM, the Tohono O'odham Nation has a stronger interest in and ability for managing the eastern portion of Baboquivari. Not only do we have comprehensive environmental plans, standards and laws, but Tohono O'odham have the only historical, traditional and cultural interest in Baboquivari's environmental preservation and protection.

--Edward D. Manuel
Chairman, Tohono O'odham Nation

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