Sometimes sacred lands are threatened by government actions and sometimes by corporations. In Resource Rebels, a book on corporate environmental practices and indigenous peoples around the world, author Al Gedicks concludes, “There is an inseparable connection between massive environmental degradation and widespread human rights violations.” The hidden costs of resource extraction have been ignored for many years, but a campaign to hold corporations accountable is on the rise.Recognizing the impact of corporations on these lands, SLFP has produced a comprehensive new report exposing the enormity of the threat. The 80-page report contains six case studies on Indian Pass, Weatherman Draw, Medicine Lake, Black Mesa, Zuni Salt Lake and Cave Rock. Conclusions gleaned from these conflicts yield a number of reasonable steps that corporations and stakeholders can take to avoid conflict around sacred sites, including engagement in meaningful consultation with all interested parties and being willing to take “no” for an answer where alternatives simply do not exist.
“Corporate Accountability” is defined in an NGO statement submitted to the United Nations in 1997: “The aim of corporate accountability is to be sure a company’s products and operations are in the interests of society and not harmful.” A powerful global movement is growing to hold companies that refuse to act in a socially and environmentally responsible way legally accountable for harmful practices.
Corporations are destroying many sacred places, and threatening to destroy others. Peabody Energy is stripmining Black Mesa (AZ) and depleting Hopi springs, Calpine is drilling for geothermal energy at Medicine Lake (CA), and Glamis Imperial wants to dig a giant open-pit cyanide heap-leach gold mine at Indian Pass (CA). On the other hand, the Anschutz Oil Company decided not to drill for oil at Weatherman Draw (MT), and the Salt River Project has relinquished its leases and permits for a new coal stripmine that had threatened to dry up the Zuni’s sacred Salt Lake (NM) — two excellent examples of corporate responsibility.