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PROPOSED GOLD MINE ON SACRED TRIBAL LAND INCITES DEBATE 03/12/99 Supporters of a proposed gold mine promised to implement measures to protect sacred tribal land in the area, but tribal leaders and environmentalists remain opposed to the project. "It's our ancestral dwelling. Our cultural resources have been there for centuries," Quechan tribal member Barbara Antone said at a public hearing Thursday. "You may want to go for economic development and you may want to go for jobs, but that is not the place." The Imperial Project about 45 miles northeast of El Centro would construct an open-pit mine with a processing facility between three mountains _ Picacho Peak, Black Mountain and Cargo Muchacho _ on property owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Developers and tribal members alike aired their concerns during the six-hour meeting in hopes of persuading the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation to resolve the issue. The government advisory board will try to develop a compromise in coming months before handing the decision off to the county Board of Supervisors, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs and other state and federal agencies. Over the next 20 years, the project could process more than 1,500 acres of land, yielding 150 million tons of ore and 300 tons of waste rock, according to information in an environmental impact report. The project could also bring an estimated $500,000 in annual property taxes, as well as $3.5 million in state sales tax revenues while construction is underway, proponents said. Tribal members and environmentalists contend the project would destroy religious symbols, including petroglyphs, religious circles and shards of pottery, obsidian and quartz. Officials from Glamis Imperial Corp., the company proposing the project, said they will take measures to create a balance between cultural interests and economic needs. "We take the concerns of the Quechan very seriously," said Gary Boyle, general manager of the project. "We will take intensive steps to mitigate effects on the cultural resources." Some argued during the meeting that Quechan members have drilled on the same land they now say is part of their cultural history. In an interview with The Imperial Valley Press, Quechan tribal vice president Keeny Escalanti acknowledged that his tribe drilled on sacred land, but said the drilling was done as an exploratory measure for the Quechan to learn the value of their land.

NAVAJO LEADER DECIDES AGAINST ZOO SHUTDOWN 03/13/99 Despite the urgings of tribal medicine men, Navajo Nation President Kelsey Begaye has decided not to close the reservation's zoo or to free its animals. Begaye said Friday the small zoo at Window Rock, Ariz., would remain open, without being expanded, until its animals die. Residents of the Black Mesa region of the reservation reported last year they had been visited by two Navajo deities who warned that Navajos were neglecting traditional religious practices and creating a natural imbalance by caging sacred animals. The gods reportedly cited bears, eagles and snakes. Milton Bluehouse, Begaye's predecessor, decided he would order the zoo closed in accordance with the advice of medicine men, but he left office without executing the order. The matter became Begaye's problem. Begaye announced his decision Friday. "There's no plans to close it," he said. "The idea is to let the animals live out their lives there." The controversy has been rooted in traditional Navajo beliefs about animals, which differ greatly from non-Indian attitudes. Traditional Navajos speak to the Holy People through prayers and offerings made to animals, and Navajo beliefs prescribe a number of animal-related taboos and rituals. Bluehouse had envisioned a series of chants and prayers to protect the animals as they were released into their natural habitat this spring. Begaye, who melds Christian and traditional beliefs, said Friday he believed the animals would not survive on their own. And he said an outpouring of letters from Navajo schoolchildren, who wanted the zoo to stay open, persuaded him it should not be closed. "I haven't had a visit from any medicine men or any traditional people," Begaye said. "All I've heard from is the kids." Loline Hathaway, curator for 16 years, said she wants direction from the president's office about whether she may continue to accept injured animals or allow zoo animals to breed. The zoo hosted about 35,000 visitors last year. A black bear, three mountain lions, three bobcats and two Mexican gray wolves are joined by coyotes, elk, deer, a porcupine, a raccoon, several snakes and hawks, two great horned owls and a bald eagle besides domestic farm animals. On Friday, sheep gave birth to four lambs.

BYU CONSIDERS SHIPPING BONES TO LOS ANGELES 03/12/99 Officials at Brigham Young University are thinking about sending the school's extensive collection of dinosaur bones to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. "We wouldn't sell anything. It would be a transfer," BYU Academic Vice President Alan Wilkins said in a copyrighted story that appeared Friday in The Salt Lake Tribune. The fossils would be pulled out from under the school stadium grandstands, where they have languished for years, and sent to the California museum to be prepared for study, a project BYU can't afford. But some Utah paleontologists and museum heads oppose the plan. "It would be tragic for a major collection of this importance to leave the state," said Sarah George, director of the University of Utah Museum of Natural History. George said she will suggest BYU transfer the fossils to her museum, which has state funding to hire staff to work with them. Jim Madsen, Utah's state paleontologist from 1977 to 1987, also said losing the fossils would be a shame. Most of the collection under the grandstands is still encased in rock or protective plaster. Madsen estimates that clearing the bones to ready them for study would cost around $1 million. Many of the fossils can't be sold because they came Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service lands in Utah and Colorado. But BYU could transfer them to another museum if they would be properly cared for, said Utah BLM Director Bill Lamb. BYU also does not own bones of Allosaurus _ Utah's state fossil and other dinosaurs in its collection that were excavated from eastern Utah's Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry and loaned to the school by the Utah Museum of Natural History, George and Madsen said. Chris Hill, spokeswoman for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said there have been "very initial discussions" between BYU and her museum. Museum Director James Powell, curator David Whistler and collections official John Heyning are set to fly to Utah on Monday to meet with BYU officials, according to Heyning's assistant. "We'll have to see what they have in mind," Wilkins said. "We haven't seen a formal proposal." The public can visit a Tumamoc Hill archaeological dig next Saturday during the Arizona State Museum's annual open house. Free tours of the excavation will be offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 20, said archaeologist Suzanne Fish, who is leading the dig. Tumamoc is one of six Tucson-area walled hilltop archaeological sites known as cerros de trincheras. All six were occupied by the Hohokam between A.D. 1100 and 1300, and Tumamoc holds evidence of a much earlier occupation. Mission San Juan Capistrano scrambles for cash to repair centuries of decay. Stone formations that follow rivers and streams and line mountainsides and fields are remnants of Native American prehistoric ceremonial sites honoring an ancient creation mythology or a vast navigational network.