Manataka® American Indian Council



Proudly Presents



May 2011



Copyright © 2011 Evan Pritchard


How the Mistakes of a Few Put the Environment at Risk for All



The Mi’kmaq word for wisdom is "Unkeedassee-waq’n," "thinking big thoughts." This means "thinking ahead," even seven generations ahead. Young Algonquin fathers would sometimes plant cedar tree shoots at a scenic site for their grandchildren to enjoy 56 years later. They planted American Ginseng and waited seven years before harvesting it. They used ingenious controlled fire methods 12 hours before a rainstorm to produce an ideal garden spot two years later. They lived in the moment, but also thought big enough thoughts to reap benefits years into the future. These are the kind of native people that vowed to become Landkeepers, knowing they would remain in contact with the land as spirit helpers for a thousand years. According to elders from many nations, they are still working with us today.


This art of thinking ahead while acting in the now seems to be a lost art, judging by recent news. The engineers of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Plant knew they were building a large power plant near the ocean on a major fault line, so they did a study first, good planning. They found that there was a 10% chance that a tsunami would overrun the plant’s defenses but built it anyway. Bad planning. Log onto: id/42325085/ns/world_news-asia-pacific/


Rods were completely exposed. There was a hydrogen explosion at building #4’s reactor on March 17th. Part of the building crumbled. The government was prepared to pour water onto the exposed fuel rods, good planning. Most of the water missed the target. But that’s okay because the water that did hit the target caused some contaminated water to overflow into local streams and rivers. (CBS, 3/29/11) At the same time, unconfirmed reports are popping up that the main radiation cloud passed over New York State and is now in Eastern Canada.


Now radiation is leaking into the sea. Radiation is showing up 25 miles away; some levels are 400 times the yearly maximum. Singapore has told the UN that cabbage from Japan carries radiation nine times the maximum acceptable level.


The tsunami was caused by a 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Honshu Japan on Friday, March 11th, at 12:46 AM EDT. Then seismic activity quieted down for a while. But in the past week there have been an astounding 22 major earthquakes in that zone between 5.0 and 6.1, seven of them in a 27 hour period (March 29-30) which is highly unusual. This reminds us of the ongoing risk of further building damage and more tsunamis. It also reminds us that we tiny humans are no match for the power of the earth, which is what native people have been saying for years. Landkeepers help us communicate with the earth, even on the "grandmother" level, the tectonic plates, as horses and birds do, just before an earthquake. Before World War II, a large portion of homes in Japan had paper walls, and lightweight roofs that were not deadly, all easily replaced after an earthquake, good planning. Now earthquakes are very deadly as well as costly as buildings are made from heavy cinder blocks, bad planning.


The volatility of the Honshu fault this March has been greater than almost any since the beginning of Richter measurement, yet scientists must have known all along that it was unstable and should not have built there. Bad planning.


Likewise, Indian Point Power Plant is near an old fault line, which erupted with two 7.0 earthquakes on December 18th, 1737 and on August 10th, 1884, bad planning, but unlike Fukushima Dai-ichi, this plant is within 50 miles of 17 million people, 8% of the US population, really bad planning. The radioactive waters that are pumped through pipes at the cooling tanks are corrosive to the kind of steel the pipes are made of. I have been told by an employee (now deceased) that this liquid is now dissolving the forty year old pipes, but that this was part of the (bad) plan, and this is right on the Hudson River, which was used as drinking water above Bannerman’s Island by Native Americans a short 400 years ago.


Now certain radiation levels are ten times higher at Indian Point than they are at Albany. New York City’s waterways have historically the greatest potential for oyster growth in the region, and oysters have bivalves that can process and purify most toxins from the water, with the ability to restore New York Harbor to its former purity, however radiation kills them quickly. Bad planning.


Another piece of bad planning is that Long Island, counting all four counties, has a population of 7,559,372 (2006) mostly influential and affluent people with no where to go in case of an emergency. If it were a state it would rank 12th in population, and is the 17th most populous island in the world, in fact more populous than Ireland. Evacuation is almost impossible; remember Atlantis?


In case of a tsunami, there is no high ground. If a disaster happens to the west, you can’t go east, if a disaster happens in the east, you can’t go west. Manhattan offers only roads that are clogged 24 hours a day. In 1989, near Brookhaven’s multiple research nuclear reactor, (60 miles from New York City) GE built the Shoreham Nuclear Power plant for $6 billion, five miles from Calverton Naval Weapons center which tests previously untested military planes, MacArthur Airport, and one other airport. The Navy said they could not guarantee that a plane would not crash into the plant. Soon the roar of the protests of Long Island citizens drowned out the jet planes and the plant was stopped. The citizens were forced to pay the $6 billion, while GE didn’t pay a dime. Why can’t we close Indian Point? It’s considered one of the most dilapidated in the United States! Maximum property damage if all three units blow? $600 billion. Cost in human life? Priceless!


The Exxon Valdez carried 53.1 million gallons of oil when it crashed into Alaska’s Bligh reef on March 24th, 1989. 26,000 gallons of crude oil are still there, imbedded in the sand and soil. Valdez was a single hull oil tanker; these are now banned from European waters because they are so unsafe. It was later changed to an ore ship, but then on November 29th, 2010, it crashed into the Aali, and is now moored in Dalian. Exxon was first fined $5 billion for their bad planning, then in an appeal it was cut back to $2.5 billion, then at the Supreme Court level the fine was cut back again to only $507,500,000, of which they only offered 75%. They were fined for late payment.


Rachel Maddow’s TV team of researchers looked into the cause of the Gulf oil spill and found, you guessed it, bad planning. On her March 27th program Maddow stated: "New licenses have just been issued for drills even deeper than BP’s Deepwater Horizon. And this, without one change made to the practices and lack of safety which lead to this country’s largest oil disaster ever."


Maddow went on to say that the same conditions that would cause an oil derrick to blow would also cause the safety valve to break, rendering it completely useless in every case. See the above website to read about Rachael’s interview with Robert Cavnar, an oil industry expert. In addition, it has recently been learned that both BP oil spills and dispersants are both toxic. Blood tests begun in November of shoreline residents and waterway users (who were given the green light to surf, swim, and use the gulf) show high levels of related toxins.


This month, sea turtle and dolphin casualties in the gulf are leaping because of the BP oil spill, symbols of wisdom and compassion, respectively. Where is our wisdom and compassion, letting BP take their time cleaning this mess up? Its time for some Unkeedassee-waq’n!




 Source: The Landkeeper, A Newsletter of the Center For Algonquin Culture, PO Box 140, Salt Point, New York 12578






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