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Energy crisis a continuing concern for California Indians



Ted DeAdwyler
SFSU Office of Public Affairs
(415) 338-1665


Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs


Tribes, energy officials, and government leaders to meet at SFSU Jan. 30-31

SAN FRANCISCO, January 20, 2004 --- Rotating blackouts and questionable financial practices have made the energy crisis in California well known. And issues stemming from the crisis continue to affect public debates over energy development needs and long-term challenges of 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, San Francisco State University's American Indian Studies Department will sponsor a two-day symposium Jan. 30-31 on the campus featuring representatives from California Indian tribes and tribal organizations, the energy industry and government regulatory agencies.

Discussions at the symposium will cover topics such as the proposed national energy bill, California energy law, the protection of sacred sites and energy development. Participants also will 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 relicensing process.

"The issues of energy and California Indians are complex and diverse," said Joanne Barker, assistant professor of American Indian Studies at SFSU and faculty organizer of the symposium. "While the media focuses its attentions 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," she said.

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 alumni of San Francisco State University; Joe Shirley, Jr., president of the Navajo Nation; and A. David Lester, executive director of the Council for Energy Resource Tribes.

Participants include Clarence Atwell, chair of the Santa Rosa Rancheria Tachi Yokut Tribe; Mark Macarro, chair of the Pechanga Tribe; Alfreda Mitre of the Southern Paiute Tribe; Larry Myers, executive secretary of the California Native American Heritage Commission; John Nash of the Tule River Tribe; J.D. Williams of the Office of Legal Counsel of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation; Manuel Alvarez, director of strategic policy and regulation for Southern California Edison; and, Jim McKinney of the California Resources Agency.

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 & Knight and Monteau & Peebles.

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


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Last modified April 20, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs