New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


A Great Aridness

June 07, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Evaggelos Vallianatos

Thirsting for Water and Justice in the American Southwest

by Evaggelos Vallianatos

I have traveled extensively in America’s Southwest. I have visited cities like Austin and El Paso, Texas; Denver and Boulder, Colorado; Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Tucson, Arizona. I have walked in the great deserts of Sonora in Arizona, Mojave in California and Chihuahua in Mexico. In fact, I live in Southern California, not very far from Los Angeles, a monster city built in the desert.

When I went to the Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, I thought I was on another planet. Massive boulders, one over the other like pancakes, of great diversity in size, shape and form, and spread all over the desert landscape, give the impression that this is a place the gods created only recently, or that it was made in the beginnings of time but forgotten for countless millennia. The cacti stand next to these giant stones like witnesses of an extraordinary story never told. Bushes and exquisite flowers add luster to this gem of the natural world.

The Southwest is a beautiful country of blue skies, little water and plenty of land, most of which is semi-arid, arid or desert. (more…)

Welcome to America

April 12, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Devon G. Pena, Politics

Connecting Indigenous Autonomy and Immigration

by Devon G. Peña

A recent poster prepared by Michigan State University assistant professor and artist,  Dylan Miner, asks that we “decolonize immigration through indigenous and migrant solidarity.” On seeing this beautiful artwork, I was compelled to once again reflect on the perverse nature of U.S. immigration law. The struggle to decolonize immigration law and policy challenges an unjust, racialized, and convoluted history, and reveals the highly problematic qualities of modern state sovereignty in the policing of borders across a region that remains a resurgent indigenous homeland.

I recall the sorrow and discrimination provoked by Arizona’s SB 1070 when numerous Native American elders were suspected of being “illegals” because they could not produce birth certificates to prove otherwise. Imagine that: natives seen as “illegals” and deemed subject to deportation under the state of exception for failure to provide documentation of their right to live on their native land. A deeper injustice and more banal contradiction is not possible, since the authors of 1070 arrived in Arizona but a mere night ago and are now dictating the legal status of peoples inhabiting the bioregion for tens of thousands of years. (more…)

Silent Spring Dawns

March 29, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Jennifer Browdy, Politics

Hot, Dry, and Merciless — Can We Keep the Flame of Hope Alive?

by Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Last week, turning the corner into the astronomical Spring, we went abruptly from warm winter to hot summer.  And I mean hot: it was 84 degrees Farenheit in western Massachusetts, brightly sunny, with puffy white cumulus clouds against a brilliant blue sky, unobstructed by any leaves.  No shade.

This day reminded me of a wax model: beautiful but blank.  The façade of beauty, with the crucial vital spark missing.

When I went for a walk up the mountain early that morning, the woods were eerily silent.  I remembered mournfully the spring mornings of my childhood, where I would be awakened by the joyful singing of the dawn chorus of thousands of birds each happily greeting each other and the new day.

Reaching the top of the mountain having heard only the distant cry of a single phoebe, I stopped to sit on a rock and listen for a few minutes.  All I heard was the dim rushing of the traffic on the road far below me, and the drone of an airplane churning its way across the sky. (more…)

The Spiritual Jackpot

December 15, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Ecology, Economy, Robert C. Koehler

Transforming Western Culture with Indigenous Consciousness

by Robert C. Koehler

The topic was “Indians of the Midwest” and the professor was knowledgeable and conveyed serious respect for Native culture, but something kept gnawing at me as she talked.

There are two types of Indian stereotypes, she said — the negative (the ignorant savage, the abductor of white women, etc.) and the romantic (woo-woo, New Agey, let’s play Indian, “go ’Skins!”) — and left it at that, implying, OK, if you are non-Native, the best attitude to strike is a certain respectful distance, neither denigrating the culture nor seizing hold of it like an idiot. If you want more, attend lectures and look at the artifacts on display behind glass cases, but DO NOT TOUCH. (more…)

For Earth’s Sake…

October 21, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Ecology, Mary Sojourner

Leave It in the Ground

by Mary Sojourner

I was half-way through writing this post when I realized I was weary — not fading light weary or tired from a life suddenly too busy — but weary from revisiting yet again a potential atrocity motivated by nothing but greed and political ambition. I’m seventy-one. I was forty-six the first time my friends and I took action to stop uranium mining on sacred lands around the Grand Canyon.

It was 1986, a gorgeous day on the south rim of the Canyon — brilliant sunlight and clear turquoise sky, ravens spiraling down to circle the trees. My friends and I pulled on white radiation suits and gas masks. We linked hands and stepped across the main road in Grand Canyon National Park. A few dozen people waved banners and sang. There was a human raccoon and a human raven laughing up at the scrawwwking birds. A bright red banner read: Uranium? Leave it in the Ground. (more…)

Food Fights

October 12, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Devon G. Pena, Ecology, Politics

Hunger Politics and the Struggle for Autonomy and Resistance

by Devon G. Peña

The political project to homogenize and control the global food system dominated by a handful of multinational corporations and powerful nation states is capitalist at its core and manifest source. This reflects the culmination of five decades of American policies that made food into political weaponry, as Harry Cleaver presciently observed way back in 1977. Food as political weaponry became official US policy during the Nixon Administration when Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, declared that food was indeed part of the toolkit of American “diplomacy.”  Butz announced this policy in 1974 with the simple statement: “Food is a weapon.” (more…)

Arizona Burning

September 22, 2011 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Politics, Roberto Rodriguez

After Five Centuries, Indigenous Knowledge Is on Trial

by Roberto Rodriguez

Justice. That’s a word not normally associated with Arizona. With Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his military tank still on the loose, this will not be changing anytime soon. In Arizona, Arpaio is colorful, but he is actually the least of them.

Just recently, Sen. John McCain decided to blame “illegal aliens” for the state’s forest fire outbreaks. Aided and abetted by the media, the senator’s irresponsible accusations, after touring the 500,000-acre Wallow fire, set off a contagion of wind-aided hate and fear. This month, two cousins were arrested for setting that fire. They were not aliens of any kind. The senator has issued no retractions. (more…)