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Exploring energy issues and Indian tribes

January 26, 2004

Image of logo of California Indian Energy SymposiumRotating blackouts and questionable financial practices have made the energy crisis in California well known. And issues stemming from the crisis continue to affect public debate over energy development needs, responsible use and conservation.

But what is not well understood is how these issues impact California Indian tribes.

To examine the impact of the energy crisis on California Indians, the American Indian Studies Department is sponsoring a two-day symposium Jan. 30-31 featuring representatives from California Indian tribes and tribal organizations, the energy industry and government regulatory agencies.

Discussions at the symposium will cover such topics as the proposed national energy bill, California energy law, the protection of sacred sites and energy development. Participants will also explore supply and demand issues regarding conservation, electricity rebates and tribal gaming, state and federal incentive programs for renewable energy options, and the federal hydropower re-licensing process.

"The issues of energy and California Indians are complex and diverse," said Joanne Barker, assistant professor of American Indian Studies and symposium organizer. "While the media focuses its attention on American Indian issues in California on tribes with gaming, many more tribes are either completely without a land base or do not have access to the state's energy grid, cable or phone, running water or paved roads."

Barker notes that the symposium will address the complexities of energy use and development needs for a diversity of California Indians. "It will provide a forum for tribal, industry and government representatives to discuss issues ranging from sacred site protection to renewable energy options to rebate and upgrade programs for gaming tribes."

Barker, an expert on American Indian law and politics, is planning the symposium with Darcie Houck, a staff attorney for the California Energy Commission in Sacramento, and Michael Pfeffer, executive director of California Indian Legal Services in Oakland.

Speakers and panelists appearing at the symposium will include leading experts on energy issues facing California's Indians and Indians in neighboring states. Keynote addresses will be given by Deron Marquez, tribal chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and an SFSU alumnus; Joe Shirley Jr., president of the Navajo Nation; and A. David Lester, executive director of the Council for Energy Resource Tribes.

The symposium's sponsors include the California Energy Commission, California Indian Law Association, California Indian Legal Services, the Navajo Nation, and the American Indian law firms of Holland and Knight and Monteau and Peebles.

The registration fee for the symposium is $200 per person and includes meals or $350 for MCLE (minimum continuing legal education) credit. For more information, call Joanne Barker at (415) 338-2013 or visit the symposium Web site.

-- Ted DeAdwyler


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Last modified January 26, 2004, by the Office of Public Affairs