Eastern Arizona Courier - Sunday, April 18, 2004

San Carlos Rejects UA Proposal

By John Kamin, Assistant Editor

San Carlos Tribal Councilors rejected a proposal submitted by the University of Arizona on behalf of its partnership with the University of Minnesota and the University of Virginia.

The proposal offered the San Carlos Tribe $120,000 in credits to programs including UA summer camps as compensation for the partnership's telescope projects atop Mount Graham. This occurred during Tuesday's special session for the San Carlos Tribal Council.

The tribe joined the White Mountain Apache Tribal Council in opposition against the universities' telescopes, which led to protests throughout the last 15 years. The Apaches consider the mountain sacred and refer to it as Dzil Nchaa Si' An. The proposal was presented by UA Law Professors Robert Williams, Robert Hershey, and UA Indian Law Clinic Coordinator Don Nichols.

Apache Elder and Chairwoman of the Apache Survival Coalition Ola Cassadore Davis referred to the proposal as "offering cash in exchange for our Apache religion and culture."

"You talk to us now, offering us bribes of cash in exchange for letting go our defense of our Apache religion and culture: something like giving us a little ice cream to quiet us down," she said in the Apache language. "Money, like ice cream, does not last, but our mountain stands there for us and we must stand for our mountain. I would like to see if you all tell us the truth for once, and that the telescopes are to be stopped… They always lie to your face (the U of A). They are lying!"

The U of A has three telescopes atop Mount Graham. The latest telescope, the Large-Binocular Telescope (LBT), will be the world's strongest telescope once it is completed. The LBT's first light is scheduled for this fall.

The council's vice-chairman, Robert Howard, said he admires Davis' stand against the telescopes.

He said, "As a more modern Apache, being the youngest of the group here, I am opening the doorways.

The people here are more culturally enriched and they have educated me on these issues. I rely on Ola Davis. The Mount Graham matter really bothered me." Councilor Myron Moses, who represents the reservation's Bylas District, said the U of A would have never considered making a proposal to the tribe if it weren't for the telescopes.

The board also discussed a controversial letter allegedly signed by Chairwoman Kathy Kitcheyan on Oct. 28, 2003.

The letter thanked the universities for working with members of the tribe.

The letter says, "Your support has permitted us to enhance resources in the areas of education, self-government, and economic development."

Kitcheyan said, "In October of 2003, a letter was written and apparently given to me. I do not remember that this letter had been signed."

Council member Harding Burdette of the Peridot District said he wasn't pleased with the proposal before making a motion to reject it.

He said the U of A is "deceiving and full of lies" because they claimed to work with the Tribal Councilors.