Carlota Complaints

Tribes allege that archaeological and burial sites on mine grounds are being violated

Wood's response: "There's a lot of stuff in there that's just flat-assed wrong."

None of the affected archaeological sites was Apache, he says. There was no Apache pottery found, for example, even though potsherds are scattered on the ground at the site.

"We have a grand total of one Apache site in the area," says Wood. And he points out that that particular site, a rock shelter with petroglyphs, has not only been excluded from the mine area, but removed from inventories of historic properties altogether to protect it from the public. The purging of the record, Wood contends, was done at the request of the Apache tribes.

On August 6, the Hopi tribal chairman, Ferrell Secakuku, sent a letter to the secretary of agriculture that lifted verbatim several sections of the letter Riley signed. And it stated that certain "significant historic properties" had been excluded from consultation.

Hopi spokesman Kurt Dongoske says, "We have for a year and a half told Tonto that there may be significant historic properties that our office is not aware of." Each Hopi clan, he says, has its own cultural history that may be unknown to other clans. He says elders from each clan must be interviewed to get an accurate picture. Furthermore, he thinks there are "undoubtedly" more human remains in the mine area than the Forest Service is aware of.

Wood and other archaeologists involved with the project are unsure what the tribes mean by lack of consultation.

Ginny Newton, an ethnographer for SWCA, a consulting firm under contract with the Forest Service, personally consulted with representatives from the Salt River Pima, the San Carlos, Tonto and White Mountain Apache, and led them on tours of the area. The Hopi, she contends, refused to come because the Forest Service would not pay their expenses.

". . . they have not come forward and identified anything that's out there that needs to be included in the cultural resource survey," Newton says.

Meanwhile, Boulanger of the Mineral Policy Center hopes Senator McCain will write a letter supporting the tribes. And if not McCain, than perhaps Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell. Both senators, it should be noted, have already stated their support for the Carlota Mine.

The Tonto National Forest, perhaps bowing to the pressures from the advisory council and the tribes, has convinced the Carlota Mining Company to pay for an ethnographic study of the area that will include interviews with elders from the various tribes in the hope of identifying other significant cultural properties.

Boulanger and John Welch, the BIA archaeologist, both contend that the Forest Service did not make a good-faith effort in their consultations with the tribes.

Scott Wood, the forest archaeologist, draws a line between consultation and tribal consent. He says, "We get standard complaints from Hopi, sometimes from Zuni and sometimes from the Apaches, saying, 'You shouldn't be out there until we give you our permission.' To which our standard reply is, 'Your consent is not required on federal land. It's only required on tribal land.' It's quite clear. We are only required to consult and we've been consulting over this for a very long time and we still have gotten nowhere."

Dongoske responds, "It depends what you mean by consultation." The Forest Service, he says, considers consultation to be, "This is what we're going to do and we've already done it, thank you very much."

Under the terms of the Native American Graves Repatriation Act, Tonto National Forest must return prehistoric remains to their descendants. But here, a relatively simple concept falls into a complex cultural black hole ("Bones of Contention," June 15, 1995).

The Hohokam and Salado civilizations are claimed as ancestors to the Hopi and Zuni tribes, but also by the four southern tribes, the Salt River and Gila River Pima, the Ak-Chin, and the Tohono O'odham tribes. All their claims are archaeologically tenuous, based more on oral histories than hard science. Because of their religious beliefs, most tribes will not allow the kind of DNA testing that could prove ancestry.

Scott Wood and Lynn Teague of the Arizona State Museum recently published an official government opinion awarding ancestry to the four southern tribes. It may be a coincidence that the four southern tribes are also more willing than the Hopi and Zuni to take possession of human remains and funerary objects. The latter prefer not to confront the actual remains for religious reasons, and want them to be reburied as closely and as quickly as possible if they must be unearthed at all.

Regarding challenges to the assignment of patrimony, however, Wood says, ". . . we have received exactly none. They have not followed up with any of those things they said they would do in terms of providing more evidence and bolstering their claims. . . . We have gotten a bunch of nasty letters saying we haven't consulted with anybody--which is hilarious, considering the number of times we've met, taken people out to the field to show them things, written letters back and forth."

Dongoske says that such a protest is forthcoming.
Because of the stalemate, Tonto National Forest is holding more than 700 sets of human remains collected from various locations over several years, and possibly millions of dollars' worth of pottery and other funerary objects that someday must be reinterred. Furthermore, they must be kept safe from pothunters and grave robbers.

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