Friday, June 1, 2007

Bury my heart at Melody

Most people regard me as pretty much ultra-liberal. Animal rights, gay rights, environmental justice...I'm all for 'em.

But my town is embroiled in a dispute right now that tries my liberal bent.

Picture this. You are a Native American, at home in your house on the land where you were born. Suddenly, a group of armed thugs invades your house, starts seizing your belongings, and orders you off the land. A huge crowd gathers to defend your rights and your home, yet dozens of officers intervene to allow the sacking of your property to continue. A treaty is signed saying that your home will not be destroyed- yet less than two days later, it is razed to the ground. Is this yet another example of cruel European imperialism?

We got these energy companies
who want to take the land
and we got churches by the dozens
trying to guide our hands
and turn our Mother Earth
over to pollution war and greed
no no

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" Buffy Sainte-Marie
(as sung by the Indigo Girls)

A minuscule group here is seeking to benefit themselves at the expense of the residents and the environment of Jamul by building a giant complex in our tiny town at the corner of Melody and Highway 94, a complex that will cause traffic to clog our one access road, strain our already-overtaxed services such as fire and water, pollute our dark skies with nighttime lighting, and blight our views and nearby property values. It's the builders of this monstrosity that evicted the rightful residents and destroyed their homes.

What is being built? A Wal-Mart? A polluting factory? Another mega-mall? Another ticky-tacky housing development?

Uh, no... a casino. By the noble, suffering, downtrodden sovereign nation that calls itself the "Jamul Indian Village."

That's right. In their eyes, it's the impoverished citizens of a desperately needy nation against the wealthy NIMBY white menace. They see the casino as their only possible salvation, and the tribal leaders have stated that they will do whatever it takes to get their casino.

Whatever it takes... which was, in this case, disenrolling several tribal members who opposed the casino, and bulldozing the homes of Walter Rosales and Karen Toggery, lifelong native American residents who opposed the casino as a desecration of sacred land where their ancestors are buried.

And, on that fateful morning in March, it was not other native Americans who stood side by side with Walter and Karen, as hired thugs sprayed them with pepper spray and struck them with batons. It was the residents of Jamul.

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