Owens Dry Lake: dispute settlement; Indian artifact protest

dry lakeWhile the Department of Water and Power and Air Pollution Control District reached settlement on seven legal issues, local citizens prepared to rally against dust mitigation work on the Owens Dry Lake to save what they say are thousands of Indian tribal artifacts at the lake bed.

In the first case, APCD Director Ted Schade said his agency had sued DWP for failure to pay attorney’s fees. The case was set to go to trial Monday in Kern County, but both sides reached agreement. In a joint statement, APCD and DWP said, “In the spirit of improved cooperation between the City and Great Basin, the parties agreed to settle the Kern lawsuit and resolve various appeals before the California Air Resources Board.”

DWP stood to potentially pay up to $8 million in penalties on this case. Instead, both sides agreed LA would give APCD $1.2 million for air pollution mitigation projects and $150,000 for solar power for six public service districts in southern Inyo. Plus both sides are continuing talks on “new and efficient ways to control air pollution from the dried Owens Lake bed.”

Meanwhile, the disgruntled were gathering for a demonstration at the dry lake today because construction in an area of reported cultural artifacts was forging ahead. Seems DWP has blamed the Air Pollution Control District, which said the ball is in DWP’s court.

APCD Director Schade said there is a legal procedure to follow on cultural artifacts. He said the his Board passed a motion that if DWP’s archaeologist finds significant resources, he has to call in a second archaeologist. Schade said, “If both say it’s important, we move the area out of the clean-up part of the lake.” As for the current situation, Schade said, “DWP needs to follow the procedure.” Schade said if two archaeologists decide the resources are significant, he will issue an order halting work on the area. Schade said DWP had proposed this procedure last summer.

Kathy Bancroft, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lone Pine Tribe, had reportedly stopped work on the site earlier this month. Tribal members say this site in question includes thousands of artifacts, in part, from a massacre of native people which “took place at the hands of the US military out of Ft. Independence.”

Tribal representatives say the APCD and DWP have failed to respond to efforts to protect cultural resources. DWP was scheduled to begin work in that area Thursday.

The rally at the site was scheduled for 1pm Wednesday off a road south of Boulder Creek off of Highway 395 to the East.

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16 Responses to Owens Dry Lake: dispute settlement; Indian artifact protest

  1. Andrew D. Morin February 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    Bennett: the ‘rally’ you site in your article is scheduled for 1pm, Wednesday, February 12, according to an email I received this afternoon from the Metabolic Studio.

    Andrew Morin

    • Benett Kessler February 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

      Thank you. Yes, it is Wednesday and I now have that in the story.

  2. Mongo The Idiot February 12, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    Now that its too late and the valley is dead there are signs declaring an emergency water shortage on the freeways of Los Angeles. Still The lawns are watered, the pools are full, and the cars are shiny and clean.
    Very few know why the valley is special; the scenic beauty, history, and people are strangers; why save the desert they say?
    The water conversation is enhanced by history and scenic beauty.
    Publish more of it.
    Give us something worth saving.

  3. Steve February 12, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    Please for the good of all that need clean air. Do not stop the Owens Lake clean up.

    Retrieve all the artifacts put them in a museum for all to see and tell your story.

    To do any thing that stops the Owens lake clean up is only playing into DWP. Kathy is being used.

    Owens lake dust blows on to the reservations just as it blows everywhere else.

    • JeremiahJoseph February 13, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

      Excuse me while I differ in opinion, Of course we all need clean air, but just for the record we are talking about a area that covers about 0.1 % of the lake, so the area that tribal members and concerned citizens are protecting in unity, is very small compared to the entire dust problem…and number two, to pick them all up and display them, to what I have grown to understand is against cultural fundamentals, we don’t have the right to pick things up in the idea of ownership or to hoard it within our own displays, MotherEarths resources are to be appreciated, shared and utilized for generations to come… not hoarded or used in a way of individual ownership..

      I almost take offense to your remark of “Kathy is being used” NO Kathy is fighting for the culture and history that is dear to her heart! anybody else in her shoes may have just given up fighting such a discouraging fight, coming from a tribal perspective we must work that much harder just to have a voice on the table, Its not a good feeling when you know you are on menu rather then at the table. It’s about fighting for what culture we still have, before its all gone!

      Yes the dust blows on the reservations, so what is your point? that we could be shooting ourselves in the foot by fighting dust mitigation in a culturally significant area (0.1% of lake to be exact)? That area already is a memorial for all the lives that were taken to soon, the last thing I want to see is LADWP implement a practice, only because it’s cost effective to them and nothing what the tribes recommended, That site should be respected in the way other historical monuments are! Thats our history, the whole valley’s history, and it’s obvious what entity in the valley has swept a lot of our history under a rug…

  4. Germaine February 13, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    “Steve” Kathy’s job is to monitor activities on the lake. She is doing her job. You might have noticed the 60 Inyo County residents standing with her at the Lake yesterday supporting her in this.

    Great Basin doesn’t represent our interests in the ongoing manifold disputes with LADWP. That is a fight we will have to take up.

    In the meantime “Steve,” do your research and point the wind blowing out of your face in another direction.

    • Steve February 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

      “Kathy Bancroft, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Lone Pine Tribe” Kathy’s title. I never said she was not doing her job. just that she is being used by DWP to stall the clean up of Owens Lake. This is something DWP has done for years. Now DWP can lay the blame on the tribe.

      Also I never attacked her just pointed out that she is being used. I fully support the monitoring of the Owens Lake as the clean up work is done. If it was not for the clean up and monitoring of the clean up these artifacts may have never been found in the first place.

      • Water Moccasin February 14, 2014 at 2:16 am #

        Seems Kathy “is being used” by you and Sierra Wave as a scapegoat; “…to rally against dust mitigation work…” Looks to me she is defending the gravesite of ancestors. Whether Great Basin or DWP try to use her is on them, not her.

        The human beings that were drowned there in their fight to defend their homeland and pastures from violent invaders have grandchildren to honor and defend them. Chased from the land into the lake to be chased again. They have returned to remind us that the water greed did not begin in the twentieth century, and that there are other stories that too must be heard. Our tears for our shortcomings as humans should honor the dust of their graves. How can we respect the air, if we don’t respect the ancestors?

      • JeremiahJoseph February 14, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

        “If it was not for the clean up and monitoring of the clean up these artifacts may have never been found” Steve you crack me up! LOL, Yeah I guess your right they may have never been found by those who would pick them up under the idea of ownership, tribal community’s in the valley know there is a huge cultural significance presence in this whole valley, that whole parameter of the lake has artifacts, that area was a prime area when in the hotter times of the year… this area in particular is obviously more sensitive because of the injustice that happened there, You know what I mean?

        ..and again, No she is not being used, Kathy is being vigilant and at the same time highlighting both LADWP and Great Basin’s short comings and how dismissive they are to the tribes!

  5. kwaaaaaak February 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

    Perhaps you don’t know what’s involved with the preservation of cultural sites. Ms. Bancroft is not being used, she is doing her job. There are many ways to preserve cultural sites, several of which are compatible with dust-suppression protocols. Many sites are located only when threatened with destruction, and there are steps that must be taken to properly deal with them. Look up NAGPRA, for example, before you start making ridiculous claims about how people are being ‘used’ or making uninformed recommendations about how to deal with the site.

  6. Yaney LA MacIver February 16, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    Hi First of all, glad to see you here, Jeremiah. Dear Water Moccasin I really can’t quite figure out your agenda if you are really indigenous why are you so against Kathy? Dear Steve, do you know what this site is all about? It is a massacre that was perpetrated by the US military and the pioneer/settler ancestors including my great great grandfather Alney L. McGee against the Paiute Shoshone on March 19, 1863. There is no way that disturbing this site is appropriate. And I certainly don’t want to put this in a museum. This wee bit of Owens Lake can and must be preserved as a sacred site, while the rest of the dust mitigation can occur. The LADWP are always eager to have one little reason as to why they can’t do something. I wish they would grow up.

    • Water Moccasin February 17, 2014 at 10:32 am #

      Yaney, I think Kathy is doing what is right and I support her. My objection was to the article not being more clear that some are rallying FOR sacred land preservation and not against dust mitigation as a whole.
      I agree with Jeremiah that Great Basin and DWP think they are the only ones concerned and are dismissive to anyone else. I worry that Sierra Wave and Steve may have fallen into this mindset also. We can mitigate dust and protect the site, and sell ourselves short if we believe we can’t. Thank you for reminding me also to choose my words carefully and be patient and kind with others.

      • Benett Kessler February 17, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

        Sierra Wave has not fallen into a “mindset.” We’re reporting the news with the best information we have.
        Benett Kessler

  7. Ken Warner February 17, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    In 1863, was this site under water or not?

  8. Yaney LA MacIver February 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    Also as I commented on the February 12 article. I bet it only takes moving a couple of sprinkler heads to somewhere else. I don’t think they are doing the whole lake are they?

    Thanks for the clarification Water Moccasin. I get worried about my words as well. I hope I choose carefully.

    And I don’t see why the McGee’s should have mountain or creek named after them. They brought cattle into the valley and destroyed it, destroyed the ancient irrigation system, therefore starving the Paiute. I can only imagine how beautiful the valley must have been. If anyone knows what the mountain or creek were named before. Please let me know–thanks.


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