It’s good to have a little star power on your side. This wasn’t the case Sunday when Robert Redford wrote a column for the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Redford refers to himself as an activist and his many appearances over the years prop up that label. His Sunday column was about the greatly debated Verde Transmission Line, almost all of which runs through Rio Arriba County.
We had a few problems with his prose, aside from the fact he was writing to a Santa Fe audience about a mostly Rio Arriba County issue.
The first issue we have with almost all celebrities is that when they want to wade into an issue, they try to sell themselves as local. Redford claims to be a 36-year resident of Santa Fe. We don’t doubt he owns property there but does that make him a resident in the same sense most people use the word resident? Not likely.
He can also probably claim to be a resident of Park City, Utah and Los Angeles, Calif. That claim would be fair in the sense the state statute addresses residency. In the case of candidate and voter residency, a location can be called a residence if the person intends to return there one day to live.
The big issue we must take up with Redford is his total acceptance of allowing pueblos to use their land in any way they see fit.
We understand the sovereignty issue very well. Pueblos are allowed to do whatever they wish with their land. However, a reasonable person would talk to their neighbors before allowing a huge (unneeded) power line to run through three pueblos resulting in a battle to stop the line on Bureau of Land Management property.
None of the pueblos have demonstrated any sort of desire or will to be those good neighbors. They’re strictly out to improve their respective tribal councils’ coffers. They’re not subject to any sort of review and are not accountable to tribal members. Unscientifically and anecdotally speaking, most tribal members are against the Verde Transmission Line. But they have no voice on tribal councils.
The pueblos have put everyone outside of pueblo boundaries on the defensive in regard to the Verde Transmission Line, all in the name of making a buck. We acknowledge it’s a lot of bucks, but that doesn’t make it right.
We’ll not see the Española Valley improve until many things change. One of those things is Indian pueblos working with the city of Española and Rio Arriba County. Ramming a power line down everyone’s collective throat is not neighborly and will blight pueblo and non-pueblo property.
A dollar seems to trump Indians’ claims to the sacred land from which they come. How can running power lines over ancestral land be acceptable?
The power line will not lower power costs for anyone, including pueblo residents. None of us in Rio Arriba County will see any benefit from the line, save tribal councils.
For Redford to flippantly state he agrees with pueblos’ rights to do with their land what they wish is to assume we all live in a vacuum. In this era of global repercussions we are even more interconnected, especially when it comes to water, power, energy drilling and pollution. Surely Redford wouldn’t agree it’s fine for Mexico to put manufacturing plants eight miles south of the U.S./Mexico border? Mexico has the right to do so but it’s not ethically or morally right.
We don’t expect the pueblos to come to their senses and see past the dollar signs, but bringing a celebrity stamp of approval into things doesn’t help the matter. A good environmental activist would oppose a useless power line such as the Verde Transmission Line, period. To say it’s OK for Indians but not for non-Indians is disingenuous.
That would also hold true in Park City, Utah, where Redford “resides.”