Published February 6, 2017
JACKSON, WYOMING – GOAL Tribal Coalition, one of the largest tribal organizations in North America has challenged members of the Democratic caucus on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who voted with Republicans to approve President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke, to reconsider their votes when the process reaches the full Senate floor. Democrats Sen. Joe Manchin, III of West Virginia, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maine Independent Sen. Angus King, favored Rep. Zinke in the 16-6 vote.
“I particularly appreciate Congressman Zinke’s strong record of defending public lands, even when it was unpopular among others in his party,” said King after the vote. At his senate confirmation hearing Zinke stated, “I want to be absolutely clear on this point, I am opposed to the sale or transfer of (federal) public land.” However, Zinke’s testimony came just two weeks after he voted for H. Res. 5, the rules changes for the 115th Congress that include provisions to enable the easier transfer of federal lands to states and other bodies. “The House Republican plan to give away America’s public lands for free is outrageous and absurd,” Rep. Raul Grijalva said in response. “Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it is also a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people.”
A trophy hunter and advocate for Safari Club International, Zinke was recommended for Secretary of the Interior by Donald Trump, Jr. Both Don Jr. and Eric Trump are trophy hunters and Safari Club supporters. At its convention in Las Vegas this week, the Safari Club is scheduled to auction 280 trophy hunts in South Africa to swell its lobbying efforts with the Trump Administration, seeking the relaxation of protections on threatened and endangered species including lions, rhinos, elephants and leopards. On sacred and ancestral tribal lands in the US, Zinke supports the delisting from the Endangered Species Act and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear. 123 Tribal Nations have now signed a treaty opposing delisting, citing the sacred nature of the grizzly and threats to sovereignty, religious freedoms, treaty rights and sacred site protections that are jeopardized by the action.
GOAL Tribal Coalition, which predicted Zinke would be Trump’s Interior pick early in the president’s campaign, sent communications to each of the Democrats who aligned with the Trump Administration. Following is the coalition’s email to newly elected senator, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada.
Dear Senator Cortez Masto,
As one of the largest coalitions of federally recognized Indian tribes in the country, which includes Tribal Nations in Nevada, we write to express our profound disappointment and concern at your vote to confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Interior, Rep. Ryan Zinke.
Our objections to Rep. Zinke are comprehensive, and while we will not recount his record in full here, it is necessary to cite some of the more egregious positions the congressman has adopted that are clearly anti-Indian and anti-environment. There would appear to be little justification for handing oversight of federally recognized Indian tribes to a congressman who supports the Dakota Access and KXL pipelines, who opposed $344 million in funding for Violence Against Women programs in Indian Country, who sought to repeal the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, and who advocates for the Native American Energy Act (NAEA), which has been described as, “a 21st Century equivalent of the Homestead Act for the benefit of Big Energy.” President Obama vetoed NAEA due to similar concerns. With your vote, you have added to the serious jeopardy of both the Walker River Paiute and Yerington Paiute in respect to the Anaconda Mine, and to the cultural devastation facing the Te-Moak Bands of Western Shoshone who are confronted by Halliburton’s expansion of the Rossi Mine.
Further, Rep. Zinke is a vocal advocate for the delisting from the ESA and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear, a being revered as sacred by Tribal Nations across the continent. We hope that it has not escaped your attention that 123 Tribal Nations recently enacted the most signed tribal treaty in history which opposes the delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear, and the associated threats to tribal sovereignty, religious freedoms, treaty rights, sacred site protections and consultation mandates that the issue threatens. Tribes throughout Nevada are signatories to this treaty.
We respectfully remind you that Rep. Zinke has a 3 percent lifetime environmental voting record, a well-earned stain when considering that in addition to delisting Yellowstone’s iconic grizzly, the representative has led efforts to delist the wolf, gut the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and through the SHARE Act champions the aerial gunning and baiting of grizzly bears and denning wolves on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, hunting with hounds, and the use of steel-jawed leg traps. Under SHARE, Rep. Zinke enables “sportsmen” to import polar bear carcasses and ivory from African elephants, both of which are anathema to the clear majority of the American people.
Oasis Petroleum has consistently been Rep. Zinke’s largest campaign contributor and the oil and gas industry is his third-largest sector contributor. In voting to confirm Rep. Zinke, you have furthered the interests of the Koch Bros. over your tribal constituents and those who voted for you in Nevada. In view of the aforementioned, we urge you to reconsider your position when Rep. Zinke’s nomination reaches the full Senate floor.
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