Open Letter Supporting the Cheyenne River and Lakota Sioux


Open Letter Supporting the Cheyenne River and Lakota Sioux From the Board of Directors, Earth Justice Ministries

June 11, 2020

Kristi Noem, Governor, Pierre, South Dakota 57501

Dear Governor Noem:

We are writing to you with our concerns for the health of your neighbors (and ours) on the Cheyenne River Reservation and Lakota territory.  We are aware that the tribal government has taken steps to protect its people from the Covid virus by setting up some checkpoints on their reservation, to limit unnecessary travel through their lands, and to minimize possible exposure.

We are also aware that your office is working to prevent the tribal government from taking action to protect its people, including appealing to the federal government to help you enforce the state’s sovereignty over the sovereignty “guaranteed” through treaty for the Lakota and Cheyenne River people.   The colonization of indigenous lands and the genocide of indigenous people by European nations and the “Indian Wars” of the Nineteenth Century are great sins in American history for which national amends and restitution are long overdue.  There continue to be efforts to further dispossess and destroy Native American culture and its ability to exercise sovereignty and self-determination.  Even now it appears to us that your actions are continuing those disgraceful attitudes and episodes from American history.

We are an organization whose mission is to “inspire, support, and connect our faith to actions that bring hope for Earth, for the human family, and the whole community of life.  We seek to further the cause of peace, justice, and the healing of Earth.”   Active peaceful resistance is the spirit and backbone of our work for justice .

Therefore, we earnestly urge you to continue to pursue friendly and cooperative negotiations with the tribal government to explore reasonable solutions that honor tribal sovereignty over their land and allow precautions for the health of the Native population, as well as other South Dakotans and other travelers who may have need to pass through tribal territory.  Please avoid any further requests for federal enforcement or engaging in any violent or coercive activity against the Lakota and Cheyenne River Sioux.


Brian Fry, Chair

For the Board of Directors of Earth Justice Ministries

Rise Gold proposes massive mine waste piles in Grass Valley

Note:    Earth Justice Ministries worked to defeat the previous proposal to reopen the Idaho-Maryland Mine and we will work to defeat this one. This article by Ralph Silberstein from Community Environmental Advocates, published in the Grass Valley Union on April 24, 2020,  explains why.

See the original article from the Grass Valley Union here.

Once again Grass Valley has to deal with a Canadian junior mining company trying to open the Idaho-Maryland Mine.

Rise Gold Company’s application to re-open the mine is not yet deemed complete by Nevada County Planning Department, but a review of currently available documents provides a glimpse into the nature of the project and the many ways it would impact our community. Here’s just one.

Mining will take place 24 hours a day, seven days a week at the New Brunswick site at the corner of East Bennett and Brunswick roads. About 1,500 tons of waste rock and tailings will be removed from the mine daily. Of this, 500 tons per day will be mixed with cement to form a paste backfill and re-deposited into the mine. The remaining 1,000 tons per day will be loaded and trucked over to the 56-acre former mine site along Idaho-Maryland Road (between DeMartini RV Sales and Centennial Drive).

This means that waste rock and tailings from the mine will be transported by trucks making up to 100 round trips per day, 16 hours per day, seven days per week. There are a lot of residences in that area. To get to the Centennial Drive site, the heavily laden gravel trucks will turn left onto Brunswick Road, pass through the East Bennett Road intersection and turn onto Whispering Pines Lane to reach Centennial Drive. Then, using bulldozers, graders, and rolling compactors, a mountain of gravel will be formed covering 44 acres up to 70 feet high. A subsequent second mountain of tailings is also planned for on the southern portion of the New Brunswick site along Brunswick Road. These operations will run for at least 11 years.

Grass Valley has designated the Idaho-Maryland Road site as Business Park and Urban Medium Density Residential, but Rise Gold intends to get this changed to Industrial. Given the housing shortage, and considering the anticipated development of hundreds of homes at Loma Rica Ranch just beyond this site, one might ask why the City of Grass Valley doesn’t just summarily tell the mine to go away now and save a whole lot of trouble. It would be incredibly bad judgment to put a “reverse” gravel quarry at this location just while Loma Rica will be trying to sell homes.

Just think, if the proposed Dorsey Marketplace is approved, the 172 units of high-end apartments will be built directly above and looking down on this dusty noisy gravel operation as well.

What makes sense is to stick with the Grass Valley General Plan, not allow a rezone.

We need to promote a walkable housing and business park community at this close-to-downtown location. It is one of the few places left in our city where this kind of infill development can take place. It would be a bad idea to go with mine waste mountains instead.

For more information, visit

Ralph Silberstein lives in Grass Valley.


Car rally urges release of persons detained by ICE

Car rally urges release of persons detained by ICE

From The Grass Valley Union, April 15, 2020

Submitted by Sharon Delgado

Eight people from Nevada City, Grass Valley, and Camptonville participated in a “social distancing” car rally Tuesday at Yuba County Jail. Over 40 cars circled the jail, sometimes chanting or honking their horns, demanding action to protect immigrants and other inmates who are housed there from infection by COVID-19. Over 150 immigrant detainees are housed there under a county contract with the federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Human rights groups are calling on Yuba County to cancel the federal contract with ICE due to concerns that current conditions create a breeding ground which could cause the pandemic to infect people and spread.

Three Nevada County participants in the car rally, Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman and Sharon Delgado, have personally visited immigrants at the jail through a sponsoring organization, Faithful Friends. These visitors have communicated with individual detainees, inquired about their health and the conditions in the jail, shared their needs with Faithful Friends, and sometimes contacted their families or requested lawyers. The trio said they were alarmed by unsanitary and crowded conditions, which could provide an environment that could easily spread COVID-19 to prisoners and guards, including to ICE detainees. Demands include releasing all people in ICE custody who are eligible for alternatives to detention; releasing all people who are older than 60, immune compromised, pregnant or with underlying conditions. Additionally, soap, CDC-recommended hand sanitizer, medical care, comprehensive sanitation and cleaning of facilities — as well as other safety measures as recommended by the CDC — should be immediately provided for those who remain incarcerated. Organizers also advocate granting humanitarian parole requests, eliminating medical copays and lifting all fees for calls to family members.

The car rally was organized by Jewish Action Norcal, whose message, “Never again means now,” serves as a reminder that countless people died in the Nazi concentration camps due to disease. For more information, visit

Poverty Amid Pandemic: The Moral Response to Covid 19

The Rev. Dr. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign


The video of this speech by Rev. Dr. Barber’s starts about 8 minutes into the video below, but the whole video is well worth watching.

We’re in a moment where hope for our many holy traditions will return to where they began in the first place. I know of Christianity and Islam and Judaism, that these holy traditions began in the midst of oppression. They began in the midst of times when there were bad, narcissistic leaders sitting on the throne who were implementing all kinds of unholy acts against humanity/ These holy traditions were called into being, I believe, by God, to give us moments to remind us of who we are and whose we are and what responsibility we have because of that.

This is not just about personal sanctification–that’s why we do these things in community—every one of the traditions, whether it’s the season of Ramadan or Christianity or Judaism–we do these things in community, and they help save us from idolatry, save us from participating in humankind’s inhumanity towards one another, they call us to another place.

In these White House briefings, we are seeing not just misinformation but public idolatry and political self-worship in the midst of holy seasons. But perhaps these holy seasons prevent us from being bewitched, if you will, and remind us that there is a power greater than the powers that we see on TV, and that power calls us to be about love and justice rather than truth, lies, and injustice.

[This is true of all of these traditions]: whether it’s Passover, which remind us of those poor Hebrew people who were under oppression and slavery, or whether it’s Ramadan, when through fasting we put ourselves in the position of those who don’t have and don’t eat, or whether it’s the holy season of Easter that reminds us that Jesus during Holy Week was very clear, that when he went into the Temple, he overturned the politics of greed. He healed everybody, gave them universal health care.  He was challenging the hypocracy of claiming to be religious on the one hand but engaged in policy injustice on the other. And in his almost last sermon he talked about how every nation, not just every individual but every nation, is going to be judged and it’s going to be by how you treat the least of these.

And even in the crucifixion, he wasn’t just crucified for personal salvation, but he was crucified as a revolutionary. He was crucified for loving,  crucified for telling the truth, crucified for caring for the prisoner, crucified for not bowing down to narcissism, But that crucifixion also brought other people alive and pointed to a resurrection, which promises us that even if we have to suffer for right, ultimately that suffering is worth it, so that even in the midst of it, we may be sanctified by the call to revolution. 

War and economic turndown, we still chose not to see, and we chose not to hear the cries of the poor.  But maybe in this moment, when all our lives are at stake to some degree, when one touch can infect a president or a prince or a pauper, a sanitation worker or a  secretary of state–it really doesn’t matter. Maybe in this moment we can hear, maybe in this moment we can see. 

And if everybody can’t see and hear. maybe those of us who have sometimes committed the sin of taking our faith inside our temples or inside our mosques or inside our congregations alone will be in halls of Congress again.

And we will decide because we are people sanctified by the holy traditions and the Holy God, we will raise holy ruckus until the poor and the least of these are cared for. Maybe this season we will see it is time to repent of any apathy we’ve had. Maybe it’s time to realize that there are things we must fight for–we can never settle for less.