Skip to comments.Telescope project halted on Indian claims
Posted on 06/17/2005 12:49:42 PM PDT by SmithL
TUCSON, Ariz. - The National Science Foundation agreed to halt construction of a $13 million mountainside telescope complex after an American Indian tribe filed a federal lawsuit claiming the site is sacred.
The foundation said it will work with the Tohono O'odham Nation to assess the environmental and cultural value of the Kitt Peak area before resuming work on what the lead scientist said would be the most advanced system of its kind in the northern hemisphere.
"We are being very deferential to ensure that the tribe is on board every step of the way," said Charisse Carney-Nunes, a foundation attorney.
The tribe, which claims 24,000 members, withdrew a motion to halt the construction but said it will press the litigation. The lawsuit, filed in March, claims that the National Historic Preservation Act requires the foundation to consult with the tribe and the state Historic Preservation Office because Kitt Peak is considered sacred.
In the Tohono O'odham creation story, the universe gave birth to the world thanks to I'itoi, the deity who lives at Baboquivari Peak south of Kitt Peak.
Science foundation documents that are among court records acknowledge the importance of the two peaks to the Tohono O'odham people, formerly known as the Papago Tribe. "Both of these mountains figure prominently in tribal legend as the homes of ancient Papago gods," the papers say.
Amy Northcutt, a foundation attorney, said the group assumed it was in compliance with federal requirements because Kitt Peak National Observatory already operates on Tohono O'odham land under a 1958 lease with the agency. The site is part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, and it supports 22 optical and two radio telescopes from eight research institutions.
The new project, the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System, would eventually include seven scopes and is meant to detect gamma rays coming from black holes, quasars and exploding stars.
About $1 million has already been spent to grade the site, install power lines and pour concrete foundations, and work continued on the telescopes offsite.
The government filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in May; the tribe's response is due next Friday.
ON THE NET
Science foundation: http://www.nsf.gov
Tribe information: http://www.tocaonline.org
Oh my. It never ends, does it?
I suspect that the site is sacred to the astronomers for almost exactly the same reasons as it is to the indians.
Translation: They want to build a casino on the land.
Just wait until they find out Mohammad visited Kitts Peak in a dream and took a dump behind the sacred bush...
Then you'll have problems...
Creationism kills more science, film at 11.
This is not the way to get US Government support for their claim to a permament UN Security Council seat.
"Both of these mountains figure prominently in tribal legend as the homes of ancient Papago gods," the papers say.
Ill bet Papa GoGo would have really liked a nice telescope.
I'll bet they can figure out some ceremonial dance that will purify the telescope and allow the project to continue as long as they receive the appropriate funds.
some heap big chief didn't get his cut of wampum?
True...and, that would prove what a benevolent god they have too.
Maybe they can issue a subpoena to I'itoi and have him testify in person. He still lives at Baboquivari Peak south of Kitt Peak, doesn't he? < / sarcasm>
I was once doing research at a Native Law Center in Canada, and I was shocked to find out that they weren't teaching evolution in the residential schools, because they "conflicted" with the traditional beliefs of the Native population. Apparently, cheating an entire people out of the prospects of becoming successful scientists, doctors, etc, and preventing them from moving out of the mire of poverty and misery is OK if it means that their "traditional beliefs" are left respected.
Kitt Peak already has about a dozen telescopes, including radio and solar telescopes, and has for years. Many Papagos have made a good living working at the site. Kitt Peak astronomers have always been very sensitive toward the Papago, including letting tribal elders view Baboquivari through the solar scope, a very awesome view. This has got to be agitation by johnnie-come lately leftwing a--holes.</p>
This reminds me of the Mount Graham red squirrel debacle.
Here is just one example of that one:
Sigh. (I wonder what science will look like in the US 20 years from now)
Vine Deloria, Ward Churchill's mentor at U Colorado, is vehemently anti-evolution, becuase it conflicts with native creation myths. Creationists have quoted his 'work' approvingly here on FR.
I have no idea how anyone got the idea creationism is in any way affiliated with conservatism. Creationist are whores who will sleep with anyone who will further their cause; Islamic terrorists, anti-American nutballs, whatever.