ISLETA PUEBLO SUING GOVERNMENT OVER LOST LANDS 04/19/99 Isleta Pueblo is suing the federal government, alleging it took nearly 30 million acres of land _ almost half the size of New Mexico _ that the tribe claims is traditional territory. The pueblo is not asking for the land back, but rather wants "just compensation." The lawsuit does not specify a price, however. "It's just a matter of money," said David Mielke, the tribe's lawyer. The lawsuit is a routine claim to "aboriginal lands," the term that describes the territory a tribe traditionally lived in or used for hunting, fishing or gathering plants and minerals, he said. The lawsuit claims the federal government took the lands through the establishment of national forests and military bases and the granting of homesteads and mining, grazing, oil and gas leases. The land includes Conchas Lake, Elephant Butte reservoir, the Manzano Mountains, the Lincoln National Forest, a long stretch of the Rio Grande, White Sands Missile Range, the Mescalero Apache Reservation and pieces of West Texas. The pueblo's official boundaries now stretch over 211,000 acres in Bernalillo, Valencia and Torrance counties, spanning the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque and climbing to the ridge of the Manzano Mountains. The Department of Justice has denied Isleta's claim that its aboriginal lands extend to the boundaries it outlined. But the tribe and the government are still trying to work out a settlement. The government rejects Isleta Pueblo's claim that it "ever owned, used, occupied, possessed, exercised dominion over, or held aboriginal title to substantial portions' of the land identified," the Justice Department wrote in response to the lawsuit. The area the Isletans used actually extended well beyond the area the pueblo is claiming, Mielke said. "There's evidence that Isletans went as far as Oklahoma to hunt buffalo," he said. "Isleta was a large pueblo, and it ended up being a melting pot of sorts as other pueblos disbanded and migrated to and settled at Isleta." A monetary value for land under the Indian Claims Commission Act is based on the land's resources. Land that holds a large gold mine would be valued higher than grazing land, for example. The Zuni Pueblo received about $25 million in a settlement with the government over lost land _ $1.69 an acre for nearly 15 million acres the pueblo said was taken. Mielke also represented Sandia Pueblo in its successful lawsuit that sought control of the west side of the Sandia Mountains. The federal government is appealing that ruling and the parties are in arbitration. They're digging up the Cold War at a federal weapons lab and shipping off the artifacts. A crew of about 30 has been on the job for about a year to dig up a classified landfill at Sandia National Laboratories. From time to time, the workers abandon monstrous excavators and bulldozers to become amateur archaeologists. The finds: almost-complete nuclear bombs, hundreds of components that make them work, even rubber human heads whose purpose no one knows. The oldest burials could hold some surprises, since early records of the landfill were destroyed under the federal paperwork-reduction law in 1972. One can still find the ruins of the only U.S. town leveled by a train-load of WWII bombs passing through, headed for the West Coast, 500-pound bombs destined for airmail delivery over Japan. He wasn't supposed to be there. Spirit Caveman is the wrong guy, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. According to the standard anthropology script, anyone living in America 9,000 years ago should resemble either today's Native Americans or, at the very least, the Asians who were their ancestors and thus, supposedly, the original Americans. But Spirit Caveman does not follow that script and neither do more than a dozen other skeletons of Stone Age Americans. Together, the misfits have sparked a spirited debate: who were the First Americans? A lifelong volunteer archaeologist who helped identify an American Indian grave in Davis County wants to protect it from Bonneville Shoreline Trail construction. The grave belongs to the daughter of Little Soldier, a Northwestern Shoshoni chief whose band of 400 was the first encountered by Mormon pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley. George Tripp, who brought attention to the grave in 1963 and helped dedicate a memorial in 1989, wants a fence to protect the site from construction crews and others where the trail comes within 10 feet. Tripp said family members verified the location and told him the woman was buried with her live infant because women in the band were unable to nurse, so the baby would have starved anyway. A strangled horse also is buried, evidently for use by the woman when she passed into the spirit world.,1249,75004714,00.html? Last year, revenues collected at the Camp Floyd-Stagecoach Inn State Park fell woefully short of supporting itself as a state historic park. The park, located five miles south of Cedar Fort in west Utah County, was budgeted $113,000 from state coffers and only $2,400 was brought in. That situation may prompt state legislators to call for closure of the historic park unless some significant changes can be made immediately and for the long term.,1249,75004875,00.html? Organizers of a proposed $6 million Korean War Museum say they will look for a new site for their museum because land donated by the city contains American Indian artifacts. However, some officials believe the decision stemmed from organizers' inability to raise money. Archaeological excavations will begin June 16 and continue through August 15. The public is invited to see the excavations in progress, and for those with the time and inclination, there are brushes and digging implements available. During the nine-week summer research program, graduate and undergraduate students work alongside archaeologists, volunteers and others from across the United States. This is one of the only sites in North America that can show continuous human occupation for over 12,000 years. Wintertime precipitation in the U.S. Southwest may increase by 40% as global average temperature rises 3 degrees F over the next century. [ Will increased precipitation have an effect upon prehistoric and historic sites, adobe structures, etc ? ] Archaeologists are almost sure they have unearthed another segment of Tucson's historic Presidio wall. The wall was built over eight years, beginning in 1775, to protect the Spanish colonial fortress from Apache attacks. The adobe wall was a square, measuring 750 feet on each side. Scientists think the wrecks should be preserved as an underwater museum amid spectacular coral reefs. But treasure hunters have obtained a government permit to fetch artifacts, stirring fears the wrecks will be destroyed. Archaeologists worldwide are pushing for an international ban on maritime treasure hunting proposed by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. But they worry that by the time it's adopted few wrecks will be left. If you don't see it, Chipper Wichman will point it out: A wall of carefully piled black volcanic rocks hidden in the brush, then a level open space, then another row of rocks. What you're looking at are loi kalo, ancient irrigated taro terraces covered over by nature but untouched by development. According to radioactive carbon-dating of artifacts found elsewhere in the area, Hawaiians built this intricate agricultural system at least 700 years ago. The restoration will focus on preserving archaeological resources. The ancient irrigation system will be painstakingly re-created by hand: Water was diverted from the stream into the highest terrace and routed into the lower terraces before being returned to the stream.