09-30-20 September in the news
Welcome to native America calling from Studio Forty nine in Albuquerque. I'm Monica brain an investigation by spotlight. New Mexico raised allegations of illegal marijuana production labor law violations, and threats of violence and a massive hemp farm on the Navajo Nation. We'll hear from reporter on that report. Also, some tribal leaders accused the bureau of Indian education of bonding. The start of the school year and the head of a controversial mine proposal stepped down after secretly recorded conversations surfaced these stories and more coming up this hour in a regular news roundup. This is national native news on Tonio Gonzalez. A nurse has been fired and an investigation is being launched after a dying indigenous woman was taunted in the Quebec little as Dan Carpenter reports before her death, the woman took a video of herself pleading for help joys, John. Had Gone to the hospital in Juliet northeast of Montreal complaining about stomach pains before her death she filmed herself from her hospital bed. The video showed she was in distress and pleading. For help it also showed two female hospital staff coming into her room and making insulting comments. One says she's stupid as hell and that she's only good for sex and better off dead that video after going online widespread anger it also led to an appeal from gives land picard of the assembly of first nations to call on the Quebec government to address a culture of racism. In that video, you can clearly hear the nurses insulting Joyce because she is. Because she is indigenous. Re recognize that filthy prejudice that continue to exist today because as a coroner's inquest won't change anything about the racism displayed by the nurses. He says, it's a question of attitude in culture and discrimination in public services is still far too prevalent. The Premier of Quebec offered his condolences to the family and confirmed that a nurse had been fired. He acknowledged that racism exists in Quebec. He added that what happened is unacceptable. He said there would be to inquiries one from the coroner another from the regional health authority for National. Native News. I'm Dan. Carpenter truck. Tribe in Southeast Alaska has one permanent protection of a historic site as Coast Alaska's Jacob resnick reports complex negotiations secured one hundred and fifty acres. Burg Bay lies on the Western shores of Glacier Bay made famous to the outside world but the writings of nineteenth century naturalist John Muir. But centuries earlier, it had been a major cling population center. Then huge ice sheets forced its inhabitants to relocate south to its now modern day who. Has a tremendous cultural significance to. The. Cat Bob Star Bard is tribal administrator of the Indian Association he says much of the site is encompassed on one hundred and fifty acre parcel. That was an original native allotment belong to the Saint Clair family and two years ago the family put the acreage up for sale the asking price one, point, seven, million dollars we knew that there were some development interests on the part of. The Lodge owners. Interested. In developing and that was a use that we felt was incompatible but financing such a large deal proved difficult. The National Park Service was also interested but the federal agency found that the asking price exceeded what the government considered fair market value. That's when the Conservation Fund Got Involved It's Virginia based nonprofit that buys land deeds it over to agencies for conservation Brad. Nichol? John is the funds anchorage-based Alaska representative heard. Fairly from the park that they wanted to find a creative way to make this happen because of the history of the use of the park by. The folks from Hunan the fund partnered with the National Park Foundation. Another nonprofit with a similar mission to buy the property outright for an undisclosed sum. It's deeded the hundred and fifty acres to the federal government added to glacier. Bay National Park and preserve the tribe will get special access. Philip hoagie is the National Park Superintendent. He authorized inking a formal agreement Koto flying special rights for the tribe, and it's been a long road to return that sense of homeland and to have the park service recognize fat formal plans will be worked out between the tribe and park service each spring the Grassy Valley in twenty two, hundred feet of beach along Burke Bay will be for both tribal members and Park visitors to enjoy I'm Jacob resnick and Antonio Gonzales. National Native News is produced by Broadcast Corporation with funding by the corporation for public broadcasting. Support by vision maker media's first indigenous online film festival, and online five week long celebration of American Indian Alaskan native and worldwide indigenous films from August thirty first October fifth at vision maker media. Dot Org. As an American Indian or Alaska native you help elders, young people and native businesses. When you exercise your right to vote November third, your vote makes a difference in Washington D. C., and at home, go to native news dot net for more information brought to you by the Carnegie Corporation of new. York. Native Voice One, the native American Radio Network. This is native America. Calling Monica brain a citizen of the Navajo nation is in business with a Chinese company to grow hemp. But law enforcement officials are having a hard time confirming whether the massive industrial farm on the Navajo. Nation is growing hemp or illegal marijuana an investigation by searchlight new, Mexico looked into it and found so much more to the story including allegations of labor violations and even human trafficking. We'll talk with journalist Ed. Williams about his what his investigation found. Also just as the controversial pub mine proposal in Alaska is getting consideration from federal regulators. The head of the company abruptly resigned and environmental group secretly recorded Tom Collier claiming among. Other things the mind project could be much bigger than proposed. We'll talk with Indian country. Today's Jacqueline estes about the latest development but I. The bureau of Indian Education had a rough start to the school year and August the Bi sent a letter to tribal leaders requiring schools to open for in person instruction. Then just weeks later following backlash from Tribal Leaders Agency reversed the decision the sudden back and forth meant teachers and students weren't fully ready for online only classes to talk to us about this we've got marionette. Pemberton she's national correspondent for Indian country today and a citizen of the redcliffe cliff ojibway tribe. Welcome back to net native America Calling Mary. Oh, thanks for having Monica. Alright. So what what what have you been hearing from folks in the Bi community about you know this push to open school in. person. Well, you know, I mean I think it was pull politically motivated people were pretty I think clear in their understanding of that You know trump has really pushed for in person schooling, and since the B. I e you know as you know, probably their types of the ice schools directly controlled by the federal government and then those that are tribally controlled. So the federally controlled schools were saying that. They would be open only for person schooling and people were upset about that particularly on the Navajo reservation where I think like almost half of the. directly be a controlled schools are and you know they were very concerned and as you know the the code infection rates have been quite high as as the death rates. So they finally appealed actually to one of their council people who Daniels. So who's the head of the Health Education and Human Resource Service Committee for the Navajo Nation and he and his and his fellow committee members I think they pursued you know like a discussion with the Bureau of Indian education. and. What came from that discussion? Seemed to be a policy change. What do you know about About what happened What conspired between the head of the BI and The Navajo Nation leadership, and before you answer that I just WanNa invite you to the conversation today. If you WANNA join US give us a call at one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight if you'd like to talk about be schools and the. Start that they had this year or. If you've got kids who are NBA schools if they're studying online and you want to share a little bit about that gives call one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight, go ahead Mary. That's a really interesting question the current administration of Navajo, nation Jonathan Nez and his vice president lies. My reminder have not been very transparent and not very responsive to media inquiries So I don't I don't know what you know transpired between the meeting with twenty year man who's the director of the Pov Indian education but I did hear from Daniel. So who is the council delegate of the Navajo? Nation is also the chair, this health education. Human Services Committee that he reached out actually to US representatives commit New Mexico Ben Ray, Luhan and DEB Halen, and neither of those off the representatives of offices would tell me what they did. But somehow you know a meeting cocoa took place and and like of his interesting and kind of it plays on the same day that Democratic Representative Ruben Gago of Arizona. Which is the chair of the Subcommittee held this this oversight hearing about. Education reopening guys, and they invited some day from the to attend and and the opted not to because it was being done virtually. I thought that was fascinating that. In this time of covid that the reason to be felt they could not attend was because it wasn't in person as opposed to the you know you would think it would be the latter. If it was in person, they would say, no, we can't do this. Do. You think that speaks to the again this push behind the administration of. Everything needs to be in person. I think it does you know peop-, you know this change So this was like on September eleventh and people just went back to school September sixteenth. So it was right down to the wire suddenly you know they get this new information we're we're going to do remote schooling. So you know I got the sense that the schools were like kind of. You know struggling to make sure they had enough devices and connectivity Yeah. They did not get too much warning. The other thing is we don't really know at least I, don't I haven't. Called around and it's difficult because the B. I e.. Really is quite stripped. Not to speak to media so and I have I have great respect for people wanting to keep their jobs so Difficult to just to just call up and ask that these other schools on other than directly controlled schools I don't know. I do know there is a school in Pine Ridge on the Oglala Sioux tribe reservation that are doing remote learning. But as far as like have, they changed their policy across the board and that's anybody's guess I don't know. So we don't really know if. The schools are They've been instructed to to go online just for the until October is my understanding of it, but we don't know what the schools did or if they are in fact, online I did read a Navajo Times article that said one school was struggling so much because the covid funds didn't come through in time and so students didn't have laptops they didn't have wifi hotspots, and so they were just taking paper packets to the students to fill out every day, and then at the end of the day, they would hand them in on. I think maybe the school buses go around and pick them up and things like that. Have you Have you heard anything else about what's going on in terms of the school year? I'm afraid I have and I've kind of moved onto other. No understand the inning country today is fast and furious with their publishing schedule, which we always really appreciate well. That out there for our listeners. If you are at a school if you're tending if you're working at a Bi school, you send your kids grandkids to one folks that keely listening on Keeley or keep. and you've got kids at that school on Pineridge and you WanNa. Talk about it. Give us a call right now we want to hear from you one, eight, hundred, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight that's one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, native house. The school you're going hasn't been a rough start our kids at home. Do you have Internet to do have to get Wifi? did you have to get yourself a hot spot so that you could have an adequate learning environment for your students Again, the number is one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight, I know you said you moved on Marionette but is there anything else about Bin Schools or education in general that you guys will be looking into in the future? Well. Yeah. Always we WANNA keep our ear to the ground for sure. Nothing, you know nothing that most immediately has. got. My attention in the stream of little twigs that float by continuously so. Not. Right now, not not today I'm on something else today. But. I'm sure we'll try to keep. We'll try to keep abreast of what's happening. Yeah definitely and. We're also going talk about a couple of other articles that you've published. But if you want to if you want to read marionettes work, you can go to any country today dot com I've also got a link or after the show will have links to her articles specifically this article and we're GonNa talk about vaccines next as well as a wild rice article phone lines are open your voice is needed in this conversation we want to hear from you give us a call the number is one, eight, hundred, nine, six, two, eight, four. Social One, eight, hundred, nine, nine, native, and I've got these phone lines lighting up so I definitely want to. Stay on the spy schools thing just for a bit more marionette. You you briefly mentioned. A little bit about the schools, the differences between the two and I wonder if you could expand on that just a little bit. So some are FA run directly be by the. and. Then, some tribally run schools. But they get funding from the is that right? Yes. Yeah. Some tribes you know seek funding elsewhere too but you know as the name implies tribally controlled the tie really determines the policies and has you know much is much more involved. You know with hiring and firing and all of it all that sort of stuff. Yeah well, after the break, we're GONNA take a caller from Pine Ridge. I gave a call out if you are listening in Pine Ridge and you WanNa talk about the schools we want to hear from you. The number is eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight. Also you know if your kids are going to a non visa school, which is ninety percent of native students and you're struggling with. Getting them to sit in front of the computer or you just want to share a little bit about you know what their teachers have been up to in terms of. Education and things like that. They're space for you to do that as well. One, eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight also after the break I'm GonNa talk to Mary Annette about a really interesting article on vaccine. Studies. That May. End Up on some of our tribal nations, and we're going to have a full hour on that tomorrow as well and wild rice my favorite the. My favorite food to eat during a pandemic and we'll get. An update from Mary. A handful of large pharmaceutical companies are rushing to develop a Kobe nineteen vaccine at least three tribes. Okay'd their citizens for voluntary human clinical trials that's drawing both criticism and praise from community members testing Kobe one, thousand, nine vaccines on the next native, America calling. Support by AARP fighting to protect voters fifty plus and making sure their voices are heard on issues like protecting social security and Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices. AARP is helping American's fifty plus from working parents to family caregivers to seniors in nursing homes to vote safely from home or in person more information at Aarp Dot Org Slash election twenty twenty. That's AARP dot org slash election twenty twenty. You're listening to native America Calling Monica Brain, and it's irregular news roundup today on a Wednesday and we're talking with Marian at Pemberton. She's national correspondent for Indian country today citizen of the Red Lake Gibb Way Redcliffe Ojibway tribe before the break we were talking about schools and the start of the school year on add at a call to our conversation. We've got Dana in yellower South Dakota tune-in on I'm guessing Keeley, Hey, there Dana what do you think in? Good afternoon my name is Dana Brave Eagle and I am the tribal education agency director for the Pine Ridge Indian reservation the Oglala Sioux tribe we have twenty two schools which are students attend within the next to our our reservation we have over five, thousand, six, hundred students. We only have one bi operated school but earlier in the year our tribe the. Tribe took action and place the shelter in place ordinance that disgust education would be distance learning and that continued into the fall and so when the state and the federal government were providing guidelines are telling schools to follow their local government. Then our tribe had already set in place there ordinances and so every school within our boundary. Be went to distance and virtual learning, and they're going to continue that for the first quarter and then reassess reassess. They've also sent in plans on how they would reopen and addressing our tribal ordinances to be included in that. our tribe is really. Looking out for the health and Welfare and safety of our people, and we know that we don't have the infrastructure to survive an outbreak whether that be with IHS are financial assistance or any other help. So our tribe is really taking a stand and protecting its future and people. Yes, Dan it sounds like so there was no decision for the school to have to make because You know you're going to default to the tribal law first and foremost before the federal government. Steps in. House connectivity on Pine. Ridge are you finding that? A lot of these students are needing to get hotspots or. What about the Computer Situation So. Monday is education committee meeting and we invite every single administrator to those meetings. They're all zoom meetings administrators all come on and meet with the Education Committee which consisted of our Council representative Dr Valentino Daniel is the chair and keenum meals is the vice chair, and so they've been meeting with the administrators every since March, and they continue to meet with them and one of the number one challenge for our our students in our schools is connectivity we've been trying to work with our local telecommunication Pro. System, here on our reservation because we'll have one and we're trying to make sure that we can make it affordable accessible and that our students have that but it is still a challenge where we have a vast amount of land and we have individuals and families in really remote connections, which they have a hard time getting connected vity. Interesting? and. Yeah. You're right. You know the state and the federal government default because they didn't set forth guidelines before our our tribe or tribe acted swiftly to get these in place to we also have border monitoring on our at our Lines so that we are also doing dot protection for our people as well, and so our tribe acted really swiftly to protect our people and so everybody else does state we have state schools we have six state schools within our boundaries of our reservation as well. Dana. Thank you so much for giving us a call today and giving us a report on education on Pine Ridge anything else you want our listeners to know about how the school year's going. You know the the the thing to nowadays is we just have to. We're in this together, we have to stay together and work together because that's how we're gonNA come out and very strong and so you know students, parents, grandparents, and stop. Let's just get through this together and staying strong together. So all right. Thanks Dana appreciate it always great to hear. From pineridge if you want to get in on this conversation, you can as well the number is one, eight, hundred, nine. Six two, eight, four, eight. We're going to switch gears and talk about vaccines for a little bit but also I wanted to throw that out there. If you watch the debate last night and you want to weigh in on what you saw in the debate, their space for you to do that as well. Call us one, eight, hundred, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight. That's also one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, native. Marionette. So what can you share with us an article about these proposed vaccine study that's going to be on a three reservations. It's all voluntary anything out. So you can share with us about this Yeah. It was like really a a a a big story and got a lot of reaction i. think it stems from Bellamy three things. One you know native people have how of res a reason to be suspicious of Government, in their with their dealings with with US anyway, and then also there has been a long history of research on wrong or research that has not benefited people or even some medical research that has harmed people. So I mean it's a reason it's reasonable. I think for people to have that You know to. You know to express an opinion based on that experience and then I think combining that with you know the environment, the current political environment where in this sort of rushed nature of the vaccine trials, he isn't just needed people that are concerned and maybe have some suspicions about the the safety a lot of people do. and I think what ended up unfortunately but kind of has gotten laws is you know what? What the trials are really about in how they're conducted by not in any way advocating for it but I think it was the you know some folks just could not be. I, think they just had this visceral reaction and I would emerge. Was the failure of some type of governments to really respond to that effectively to realize that they they had. You know it would induce such a strong reaction people. Well, yeah I'm sorry going to ask me something no, no I mean, it's true. We've done a couple of shows about research in native communities. I know have soup I had this lawsuits. About DNA research in their community in their tribe and It's really interesting to me that folks. Really are. Wanting to know more information about it. Also naturally suspicious and. But at the same time, you know we have some serious issues with our covid rates and our death rates and you know a vaccine may be something that saves us and so We're we'RE GONNA. Spend the whole hour talking about this tomorrow, but I just wanted to. Also. Ask You. Why do you think that tribal leaders would allow something like this on in on their communities? Well you know they have before I mean Navajo for instance, with with John Hopkins, they've tested you know a number of vaccines and the way it's like a cone allowing it's You know it is you know it's it's on a voluntary basis and the way that these trials work. When they get to this level, it's called a phase three trial. So it isn't as though they've just suddenly created by okay. We're GONNA injected a bunch of people you know it's it's gone through a lot of it's passed. It's fairly rigorous is my understanding as far as not harming people you know. So now we're at a point where were they're testing would have phase three trial is you know we've determined it doesn't hurt animals it doesn't email it doesn't seem to hurt people. We want to have it on a broader population and what's really crucial is that you have some diversity population. You know if you only test my way people, I'm middle class white people. Who make all kinds of different different maybe health care. Conditions or disparities you know it's not gonNA. Be You know render like I mean as me as much meaningful resin information is if you were to try to test it directly on, you know folks that are unlike native people. So like for instance, on Navajo, they have tested the HIV. Kid You probably hear that I can't remember what the acronym stands for. It's like really complicated but you know it's like to protect them from meningitis and stuff like that and I forget what other they also tested another vaccine there and they've actually tested drugs for like you know for colon cancer and the thing is that they find that that actually needed people seem to do better with a little different dosage. So if they hadn't done that those trials, they would know they would know that information so. You know. So there's like. A, very nuance complex kind of an issue and then this could send people get paid. You know. So you volunteer to get paid. You don't pay the lots they and even the people at John Hopkins were real. They're really concerned. They don't want to quote unquote incentivize. People especially people are you know perhaps it really low income and really you know desperate for money but then again, you don't want to cost people money to come participate. So I think they're paying about like seven hundred and ten dollars over a two year period. So you come in you'd have to you know you get like a little bit of money each time So. You know as I said, it came you know at initial examination people they're paying us. We're desperate for money. So where people are out of work and they're going to put their health on the line for this So that was you know it was some a very emotional response to ask. But then as I said, there's additional. Then there's sort of this additional elements of it the thing about there was like I really I spoke to two different Tribes about this the Navajo Nation government was really not very transparent to people's concerns people wanted to know they do have like a human, Research Review Board, and it passed that review board and it's made up of Navajo people. You know healthcare professionals and research professional did pass that but you know it was not a transparent process but people you know I it seemed as though I think two people express. The concern that you know leadership is dodging questions during the did they did have some town halls ritual town halls and Napa Hall and people you know people were expressing anger a lot of concern and leadership was responsible you being negative? You know we don't. We don't want to hear any negative comments was one. One woman WHO's a professor at? The college. Professor Army and she asks him questions in in commented. I. Guess in ways that they would have defined as negative features like prevented from commenting anymore and they scrubbed all her comments. So I don't think you know unfortunately, you know politics has really entered into this. And I. Think it's it's clouded A lot of issues you know both just getting out the the information to people. And then also really escalating concerns that you're you're you're selling us down the river, you're not giving us full information. versus alumnae. Nation in Washington I think they really just genuinely it was a misstep. They just didn't. You know they announced if they didn't include enough information and the people citizenry may had very similar responses as the folks in on the Navajo reservation you're making a skinny pigs and let's not take it and then of course to the tribal leaders, you guys better be the first ones in line. We do. Well. As they did make their you know they made their process. People available that were involved in the process of You know the that particular trials with AstraZeneca and which actually has been paused because they're having some problems with right but they did make the I. Think we're making a genuine effort to respond to people and try to be more transparent about their process. Well. We'll like I said tomorrow we're going to spend the whole hour on this. If you WANNA weigh in, you can give us a call tomorrow to talk about it before let's go Mary I. Just wanted to note your most recent Article Minoan will carry you through about wild racing season, which is right now and although you collected some interviews and and such from last year's season. Is Wild race getting you through the pandemic. Order in right Oh als kept have my rice at ten Minoan. Really. Important to what we just like to eat it, and then you know has has to be present in all of our feasts and you know our ceremony. So I mean, I grew up eating rice and. You know my kids may not you know like it as much as I? Do, but here they want to eat sometimes that's what I got. Well I, really recommend everyone check out this article if you're looking particularly, if you need to wash off some of the negative news of the day, it's a it's a good read. It's funny. There's a great video to go with it and it will fill you up much like a large steaming bowl of wild rice. Mary Annette a pepper is the national correspondent for Indian country today. Thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Thanks for having me Monica it's always great to talk to you and it is our monthly news roundup. If you want to join our conversation, give us a call. The number is one, eight, hundred, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight up next, we're gonNA talk with Ed Williams he's reporter for searchlight New Mexico and We're GONNA talk about hemp growing operation on the Navajo nation. If you WANNA get on that, give us a call right now the number is one, eight, hundred, nine, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight ed thanks so much for joining us today. Welcome. Thank you. It's great to be on. This story is just was just shaking my head. It was amazing. It was an incredible. I couldn't believe the reporting that you and the the sources that you got on this give us a quick summary of of what you found. Well I'll try it's a big and complicated story. But let me try to put an end not show So last year the San Juan River Farm Board President WHO's a guy named Nali launched a giant hemp farming project in brock chapter of the nation, and he brought in a big consortium of business partners and financiers from China and started sub leasing plot after plot of. Farmland up in the northeastern part of the reservation for what he said was hemp cultivation and it's an enormous operation I mean it costs more than twenty million dollars the B., I. A. Estimates that It's now about four hundred acres or more traditional farmlands that had been turned into farms. He's farms are made up of hundreds of industrial greenhouses and patrolled by hired guards. And his partners brought in over a thousand workers mostly immigrants from China and South East Asia to work on these farms and most of them are living in man camps next to the greenhouses There's also quite a few local people working there many of them are teenagers and summer as young as ten years old in from the beginning Navajo police in the San Juan County sheriff. Department had believed that the farms are really just a cover for giant the legal marijuana operation. Tensions have been building up in the community over the summer you know to the point of violence in some cases and Navajo Nation Attorney General has been working to shut them down So that's Yeah A, that is a quick. Summary of what's going on we're GONNA get into it more in more detail after the break. But This is this is fascinating to me and I'm just going to give you a little lake taste of what we're. GonNa talk about after the break. searchlight New Mexico actually got their hands on was given some of this. so-called hemp and they sent it away for testing, and so we'll talk about what those results came up with. But we're going to go to a short break one, eight, hundred, nine, six, two, eight, four, eight. Support for journalism that raises the awareness of child wellbeing to citizens into to policymakers provided by the Annie E. Casey. Foundation, building a brighter future for children, families and communities information at a eighty cf dot org support by AARP fighting to protect fifty plus voters making sure they're heard on issues like social security and Medicare prescription drug prices and ensuring that fifty plus Americans can vote safely from home or in person more information at Aarp Dot. Org. This is native America Calling Monica Brain we're talking with Ed Williams who's reporter for searchlight New Mexico about and we're talking about his most recent story about hemp farming on the Navajo nation so. Ed, how did you find this story? How Did you stumble upon this? It's been a big issue locally in ship rock in north. North Western part of New Mexico are listed cindy insurance chilly of the not the whole times have been following this from the beginning the AP and PBS Newshour Farmington daily is boss coverage, different development but I actually heard about it personally from one of our reporters searchlight she grew up in ship Braga Sunny Clutches Chili, and Sunny was working on a separate story in rock with our photographer John. Donne Essner They brought the issue tour editor. So what we thought we needed to explore further was you know how can we investigate what's going on inside of these secretive operations with actually being grown in these farms who are the immigrant workers living there you know who the people and businesses financing and managing the forms. So those you know that's how the story got started for us. All right and So I mentioned this before the break The big question is you know he that they say that It's just hemp that's growing there. But there's lots of speculation and allegations that it's not. It's actually marijuana and so how did you go about investigating that? The first thing to do was to you know get as many sources as we could who were working in the farms and what have direct knowledge of you know what was actually going on and what was being grown. They're very secretive like I said, I mean they're they're surrounded by tall blackout fencing patrolled by guards that sometimes carry weapons It's not like you can just. Walk in and ask, and also they're not feeling the normal kind of paperwork that you know that that you would expect a business to fill out. So we didn't have a paper trail to go with. So we ended up finding seven employees who had worked in the farm ranging from their thirty s to thirteen years old on each of them said that unequivocally the most. The most like quantity of the proportion of the plants being grown at the farms are actually marijuana wannabe employees like you mentioned, gave us three samples of the plants which were given to him as an incentive to work which a lot of people said was a common thing that was offered to at least the Navajo workers on the. Work hard. We'll give you a bag of this. Hemp. Air Quotes and so we did take that to a laboratory in Santa Fe to get it tested at a at a state certified lab and those tests showed THC levels between twenty and twenty seven percent, which is really high. Even for something, you'd get a dispensary and it's obviously a lot higher than zero point three percent THC limit enhance, right? I mean. To be clear, there's no way for us to verify samples actually came from where the source said they did we don't have any reason to doubt it, but this is not you know track, there's no barcode to scan, but we did also talk to one of the Banal. His main business associates a guy named irving. Lynn who has been part of this project from a management perspective from the beginning and he actually confirmed on the record on the phone the farms were in fact growing marijuana. Well, you can't get more definitive than that. I guess. One of the things that I found a amazing about the story is the number of workers particularly foreign workers that were coming in to this area to help with a hemp farm. Is there is there any evidence of human trafficking going on In this operation. That's to answer because human trafficking is such a complex legal question usually like even law enforcement can't say whether human trafficking has occurred until after a long investigation whether they're able to figure out, you know what kind of debt the worker has their supervisor what kind of control is being held over the workers ability to leave and things like that. But what sources did tell me unequivocally that there are major major flags for human trafficking in this case as well as Labor. Trafficking and other kinds of exploitation So for example, people in the community have described a lot of cases taking pictures of Asian workers apparently trying to escape the farms like standing on the side of the road with their luggage, for example, or standing outside of gas station asking for help getting home in one instance resident told us about a time a few months ago when a Vietnamese woman wandered up to her family home in a really remote part of shipwreck. Just, begging water and asking for help with their passport. So she could get back to Saigon and shoot apparently been walking through the desert for hours and sandals just trying to find a way out So these are the kind of things that have law enforcement traffic have kids very, very concerned Yeah I can imagine. What are some of the jurisdictional issues here? So in your article, you mentioned that law enforcement is concerned and looking into it, but it doesn't look like charges have happened And or you know warrants or raids or anything like that? So what's going on? Yeah. There's quite a few limitations that law enforcement have been dealing with. It's been really frustrating for cheap Francisco of the Navajo police especially, I think. So tribal law enforcement can't arrest non native people on the reservation in this scenario I think there's an exception for domestic violence but in this case, he's been limited in terms of his ability to arrest or intervene with these Asian workers, and there's a thousand people again involved in this who are not native Now, the whole lot doesn't really address the we gallery of hemp cultivation very clearly. So it's been hard for police to get a warrant to search the farms for marijuana. And plus t Francisco's had a hard time finding a drug lab they could test the plants for him and also Sheriff Shane Ferrari in San Juan County only has very limited jurisdiction within the reservation. So his hands are mostly tied unless something illegal happens outside of the reservation you know in the county So yeah, local law enforcement had had a very hard time investigating this even though it's been happening way out in the open and in a really audacious way share Ferrari, just describe it to me as you know, didn't even always been able to operate in the cracks and we're all just standing here kind of scratching our heads. Wondering. How do we? How do we proceed with this I'm so at this point, I think it's very likely to become a federal issue. Yeah I was GonNa ask you what the agency is. That is in charge of hemp cultivation and. Keeping Track of that. The USDA is in charge of him. Cultivating tribes can get their own license from the USDA that has not happened with Navajo nation yet They do have a little limited license to grow like five acres out of Nappy, their agricultural area with New Mexico State University. So that's kind of like a university research area but beyond that, there's no license and that's part of the legal problem here and so that would be the USDA The state also has a story in this. In this scenario you know we're talking about drugs if we're talking. About marijuana in a state like this where you know especially, we don't have recreational marijuana we do have medical marijuana but this is kind of an off the books operation in that would be the DA or criminal issue. I mean, even if Navajo police were able to to prove that it was marijuana or show court probable cause, they could intervene I believe. So you know it's just kind of a complex maze of people that that have just everybody seems to have kind of a little bit of jurisdiction. Nobody has enough to kind of attack it you know. I had on I will say to that Sheriff Ferrari has. Formed what he describes as a task force with G. Francisco have never hope TV and the Attorney General and New Mexico and Da Homeland Security and FBI I mean they've all been meeting and trying to attack this you know and and get investigation underway Well I really you know we'll put a link to this article on our website. Native America calling dot com also mentioned that you did get an interview with two named Bonaly about this, the businessman who is in charge of this operation and he had some interesting things to say about it. Ed Williams. Thank you so much for joining us from He's reporter for searchlight New Mexico, thanks Ed. Thank you. All right, and for our last story of the day, we've got to Jacqueline estes. She's national correspondent for Indian country today and she is. It Jacqueline Welcome to native America calling. Thank you good to be here. Okay. So the pebble mine it's now being called the pebble tapes I believe it's almost like Watergate in terms of This issue what can you share about this proposed project and and this audio that was leaked this month. So the pebble mine is a gold copper and molybdenum mine it's a proposed mine. And the idea is that the largest. Mind of its type. Would be set about a hundred miles from Bristol. Bay. In Western LASCA. And Bristol as famous as a huge fishery where half the world Sockeye Salmon. Are Harvested and sold all over the world. It's an enormous fishery. And so what happened most recently is. Environmental Investigations Agency and Environmental Group that. Sends investigators out you know to do research and find documents and back kind of thing. Posed as investors and they videotaped a zoom meeting with two of the top people with the pebble mine. And they the pebble folks were. Indiscreet to say the least They were pushing hard to sell the project. These would be investors. So they described project that's a lot bigger and with last a lot longer than what they've put in the official documents where they're applying for permits. Yeah and they also boasted about how they had all these politicians on their side. with the implication that the politicians are effecting the regulatory process. Yeah. When I, when I talk a little bit more about that but I actually have a clip from the now former CEO of partnership limited, Tom Collier talking about the potential to expand the mind beyond the original proposal now I in America there's not a single major mind and there certainly isn't a major oil field. The didn't start out small. smaller than it has. And there have been constant expansions that have been suggested. As let's that's what would happen here where this is a well-worn path that we're following. To build something that allows us to show the community and the state that we can do it. We can do it well that it's not dangerous and they will come in. At some point, the future and request an extension of time probably an expansion of how much we are producing. Doc Jock Lendu do. Does that. When you hear that audio does that sound like what Tom Collier has been on the record with publicly as well in terms of the mind will be you know, yes, we will expand or have you been hearing something different that which is like the mine only for twenty years and and that's that. Yeah I mean the ladder. What he said there is not at all with the been saying officially, but they were saying officially is that they'll take so many hundred tons. Of or out every you know every day. For. Twenty, years. And then they'll start wrapping things up. And, the the the whole plan is kind of geared around that. So they have a gas line that extends from you know across an inlet and I mean. This is an enormous project with a port. Roads a power plant. The gas lines that I mentioned fiber optic lines. And all of that. would be set up and they're. Setting up in such a way that they can continue the project. They hope for two hundred years not twenty. So that's that's a you know it's really different from an end, the amount of or that they would be digging up every day would be a lot more than what they have in the official documents and I wonder if we should maybe explain maybe not for our Alaska listeners but for everybody else why this is so controversial you know you have united tribes of Bristol Bay and the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation. All speaking out against this I think even the president's son said, he didn't support this mine What can you share about what the major concerns are with this mind? Well, they're the water table in the is really high and it's a it's a really wet environment. There are a lot of wetlands and streams and the water I mean the toxins that would be released in the mining process would enter the water system. which drains into Bristol Bay which like I said, is this enormous Fishery both for subsistence. For putting food on the table locally. Commercially. I think it creates a like twenty thousand jobs. And it's worth three hundred million dollars a year to the to the state's economy. And it's just a sportsman's paradise. People fly in from all over the world to go fishing for Salmon, and that's why the president's son came out in opposition to the project because he's been out there and he's been sports fishing. It's really a beautiful beautiful place. And and you know the fishery has been going on for Millennia I mean as long as people have been living there salmon have been coming back every year. You know giving that up would. Really. It. Any town that's gone through the loss of its major industry I think can relate to this. How did Northern Dynasty respond to these these pebble tapes? Well. Northern Dynasty is the. Parent company to the Pebble, Partnership Limited, and they fired the CEO. And I'm calling your lost his job and now the interesting thing about this is that the they head of northern dynasty was recorded in one of these videotapes to. was going to say he yeah, he didn't lose his job. Well. I will put a link if you want to listen to the tapes as well as read. Jacqueline estes coverage on this in Indian country today Jacqueline it's great to hear you on the radio again and and to chat with you. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks for having me. And That's GonNa do it for our show today. Thanks to our guests marionette pepper Ed Williams, and of course, chocolate estes. We're back tomorrow with conversation about testing and the covid nineteen vaccine on our native nations. I'm senior producer Monica Brain. We'll see you tomorrow. Teams. 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