Before “It”

The view you see at the top of my page is the view before “it”. My husband and I have lived in the Mojave desert for 30 years, in this house for 25 of those years. We live on a dirt road, off another dirt road. We are surrounded by acres of desert, The Joshua Tree National Park, a few scattered houses and 160 acres of Native American Land. We have woken up each morning to the sounds of our closest neighbors: the coyotes and the hawks, we have watched countless sunrises and sunsets across the expanse before us. We have celebrated full moons, blue moons, solar and lunar eclipses . We have gazed past this land off into the distance above the mountains to trace shooting stars and comets. We raised our sons to be respectful of the land, the Indian Land, the Desert Land, Our Land. Our boys have explored this land with each other and their friends, teaching those city slickers about the pencil cactus and the jojoba, the iguana and the tortoise, introducing many of them to their first natural desert experience, always mindful and aware.

We have heard the rumors for years, “something will come”, but it never did. There were surveyors and studies, once we had an asphalt batching plant on the far northeast corner for 6 months, an ugly, smelly thing, but temporary, to make the asphalt to repave the National Park Roads. This winter the rumours flew fast and furious and then there was a meeting, and then a website, and then a sign, and then people, more people than we have ever seen up here, pacing the land, conducting test drilling, spray painting numbers and sweeping lines across the soil, marking the path of the water and the sun. We attended every meeting that we could and were constantly reassured that “it” was coming but “it” would be done in an aesthetic and environmental friendly manner, with attention paid to the surroundings, the night skies, and the community.

What is”it”? ” It ” is a casino, an rv park, a sewage treatment plant, a 1 megawatt solar plant, a 200 foot wide concrete water diversion channel, and a storage pond, “it” is also, further in the future, a retail store, a bowling alley, and possibly a golf course. We respect the fact that the native people have the sovereign right to do as they wish with their land, and deservedly so. We are not pleased that it will be in such close proximity to us, but we are resigned to it. We felt that the spirit of cooperation was alive and that our concerns and ideas were met with interest and acceptance. We were sure that the 29 Palms Band of the Mission Indians did care about their land and would make sure that what they developed on it, would uphold their trust as “caretakers” of the desert.

The rumors this week are that of the 160 acres, 130 acres will be scraped clear, not a creosote bush, not a cactus, not a yucca left standing, not only that, hundreds of cubic feet of dirt will be gouged out of the higher part of the property and re-situated on the northern part, raising the elevation by 2 feet. There are methods of building and developing that are less invasive, less harmful to the land, granted they are more costly and take forethought and careful planning but this land has been here longer than any of us and it deserves to be treated with respect. True caretakers of the land would investigate every option and make every effort to honor their heritage.

4 responses to “Before “It”

  1. You tell EVERYONE about it girlfriend!!! I am very excited about your new blog and all that will evolve from it. I know you’ll be posting pictures of your patio snakes and other wildlife… that is if they aren’t wiped out by more development. What a shame.

  2. Mita, I love that you are doing this, and hope you love it!
    Dreadful what is happening there–Sometimes I think Native Americans act too much like rich white folks.
    Keep us posted. The good stuff too, eh?

  3. Good Morning Mita “B”!
    I LOVE coming to home to enjoy not only your hospitality and friendship, but also the wonderful “desert hide a way” feeling it evokes…
    Hopefully “it” will not affect (too much) what you all have built over the years.

  4. Hey Mita, welcome to Bloglandia! Hope you enjoy it. I’m excited to hear about your journey into claiming your artistry. 🙂

    I appreciate your courage in taking on the topic of the casino and your respectful and solution-oriented approach. It is a hugely complex issue. I’ve fought for the environmental integrity of this area for 15 years. I also know that, as an American and a local landowner, I continue to benefit materially from the losses imposed upon the Native tribes that were here when Europeans arrived. The fact that this is not the usual squabble between neighbors but something with a much more conflicted history is represented in the fact that many environmental regulations do not apply to reservation projects, as they are within sovereign nations. As an important and telling consequence, local communities do not have many of the same levers to guard their interests and standards in the face of a proposal such as the casino.

    I understand the frustration and distress as the narrative of American conquest of this land continues to unwind down its thorny path. But we are doomed to confront the consequences; we do not have a choice. In my opinion, we’ll help ourselves by staying specific and resisting the temptation to stereotype (addressing Sarah One Beam, here): Not all Native Americans are building this casino, and not all tribes have casinos, or riches!

    That’s my two cents this morning on a bazillion-dollar topic. 🙂

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