Center for Biological Diversity

Protecting endangered species and wild places through
science, policy, education, and environmental law.

News Advisory
For Immediate Release: July 8th, 2002

Contacts: Jaime Chavez, Water Information Network 505-255-4072
Pablo Padilla, Pueblo of Zuni 505-782-7032
More Information: Zuni Salt Lake Coalition


Sacred Zuni Salt Lake Under Threat

Albuquerque, NM-- Pueblo leaders, Intertribal allies, and the Zuni Salt Lake Coalition will hold a press conference on Tuesday, July 16th at 11:00 am MDT at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (2401 12th St. NW) to announce broader opposition to the proposed Fence Lake Coal Strip mine proposed by Arizona-based Salt River Project. According to Zuni tribal officials and religious leaders, the coal strip mine will destroy the sacred Zuni Salt Lake and surrounding Sanctuary Zone.

The Department of the Interior recently approved the controversial mine that Zuni officials say violates the trust obligations of the U.S. government to protect tribal sacred sites. After the press conference, tribal leaders will travel to Washington, DC to testify before the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee. According to Zuni Governor Malcolm Bowekaty, "The purpose of our testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee is to highlight the inconsistencies and failed processes of the Federal Government to protect sacred places such as Zuni Salt Lake."

Zuni Salt Lake is not only important to the Zuni Tribe, it is a central religious and cultural site to most southwest tribes. Governor Vincent Lujan Sr. of Taos stated that in order to protect the Sacred Taos Blue Lake, the tribe engaged in a 20-year successful struggle that was ultimately recognized and mandated for protection by then President Nixon.

Governor Bowekaty and the Zuni Salt Lake Coalition will reveal the failures of Gail Norton and the Department of Interior in carrying out their trust responsibility to the tribes and the protection of their sacred sites. Because sacred sites across the country are under threat, the Zuni governor will join other tribal leaders in a national effort to push for true protection of sacred sites like Zuni Salt Lake.

The Zuni Salt Lake Coalition brings together diverse groups who seek environmental justice with the Zuni tribe. Coalition members include these grassroots and environmental group: The Center for Biological Diversity, the Citizens Coal Council, Sierra Club and the Water Information Network.

What: Zuni Salt Lake Coalition Press Conference
Who: Zuni Governor Malcolm Bowekaty, Taos Governor Vincent Lujan Sr., Zuni Religious Leaders, Tribal runners, and members of the Zuni Salt Lake Coalition,
When: 11am MST, Tuesday July 16th
Where: Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, 2401 12th St. NW, Albuquerque, NM

Press conference will include excellent photo opportunities and refreshments will be provided.

Other members of the Zuni Salt Lake Coalition can be contacted at:

Carolyn Johnson or Andrew Taylor at Citizen's Coal Council 303-722-9119
Bryn Jones at the Center for Biological Diversity, 520-320-3957
Andy Bessler at Sierra Club 928-774-6103 or 928-380-7808


more press releases. . .

Go back