Calpine Corp's Plans to Build on Sacred Land Fought by Native Americans

March 5, 2001

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On March 5, 2001, The San Francisco Chronicle reported that "some American Indians and environmentalists [in Northern California's Siskiyou County] are fighting a Calpine [Corp.] plan to build a geothermal facility on federal land sacred to the Pit River Tribe and Shasta Nation." The tribes have 2,500 and 1,500 members, respectively. "Many American Indians say it is the spiritual energy of the natural world and shouldn't be tapped, unless the intrusion is part of a traditional vision quest or puberty rite." Calpine has been winning over some tribal members by paying for their support or by promising to help with the petition for federal recognition of their tribes. Sean Haggerty of the federal Bureau of Land Management in Sacramento "estimated that the company spent at least half a million dollars in staff time lobbying the local American Indians -- plus more in property donated as gifts and long-term commitments such as college scholarships Calpine says are contingent on completion of the project...Because Siskiyou County's historically marginalized tribes do not speak with one voice, Calpine has been able to press ahead."