Tribes sue Bureau of Land Management and Interior over rights of way for SunZia transmission line
The Tohono O’odham Tribe and the San Carlos Apache Tribe, in cooperation with Southwest Archeology and the Center for Biological Diversity, have filed a new lawsuit against the federal government for their role in allowing a high-voltage transmission line through the sacred sites.
The lawsuit, filed on Jan. 17, alleges that the Bureau of Land Management and the Department of the Interior ignored executive orders and federal laws that would protect sacred sites from part of Pattern Energy’s SunZia energy project, which aims to create clean energy infrastructure. Between Arizona and New Mexico.
The transmission line in question would pass through the heart of the San Pedro Valley, which in turn would cause “irreparable damage to the feared cultural sites of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the San Carlos Apache Tribe, and other tribes,” according to a joint report. statement.
In 2023, the Bureau of Land Management allowed the project to move forward without first notifying the tribes involved, which is inconsistent with the National Historic Preservation Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, and multiple executive orders on preservation and tribal consultation, the tribes wrote in their report. Their joint statement. They also claim that the office failed to conduct an adequate inventory of cultural resources in the area, and ignored repeatedly raised concerns about cultural integrity.
“This disregard for tribal cultural resources corrupted the NHPA process and led to the illegal award of the LNTP allowing SunZia and Pattern Energy to proceed with construction despite lasting damage to sacred and cultural resources in the San Pedro Valley,” the tribes write.
Tohono O’odham Nation Chief Verlon Jose said the line “must be rerouted” to avoid harming cultural resources in the area.
About the Author: Chesley Oxenden (Lumby-Schiraw) is an Oklahoma-based reporter for Native News Online and its sister publication, Tribal Business News. His journalism has appeared in the Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Native Oklahoma Magazine, and elsewhere.\ r\n”