By Matthew Ross
Modern society relies on metals like copper, gold and nickel for uses ranging from medicine to electronics. Most of these elements are rare in Earth's crust, so mining them requires displacing vast volumes of dirt and rock. Hard rock mining – so called because it refers to excavating hard minerals, not softer materials like coal or tar sands – generated $600 billion in revenues worldwide in 2017.
Along with metals such as gold, silver and iron, mines also produce materials including sand and gravel, crushed stone and Portland cement. USGS
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By Malinda Maynor Lowery
Increasingly, Columbus Day is giving people pause.
Why Columbus?<p>Columbus Day is a relatively new federal holiday. </p><p>In 1892, a <a href="https://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/curriculum/the-american-calendar/proclamation-on-the-400th-anniversary-of-the-discovery-of-america-by-columbus" target="_blank">joint congressional resolution</a> prompted President Benjamin Harrison to mark the "discovery of America by Columbus," in part because of "the devout faith of the discoverer and for the divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people."</p><p><a href="https://www.history.com/topics/westward-expansion/manifest-destinyin%20their%20conquest" target="_blank">Europeans invoked God's will</a> to impose their will on indigenous people. So it seemed logical to call on God when establishing a holiday celebrating that conquest, too.</p><p>Of course, not all Americans considered themselves blessed in 1892. That same year, a lynching forced black journalist Ida B. Wells to <a href="https://daily.jstor.org/peoples-grocery-lynching/" target="_blank">flee her home town of Memphis</a>. And while Ellis Island had opened in January of that year, <a href="https://www.nps.gov/elis/learn/education/upload/statistics.pdf" target="_blank">welcoming European immigrants</a>, Congress had already banned Chinese immigration <a href="https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=47" target="_blank">a decade prior</a>, subjecting Chinese people living in the U.S. to widespread persecution.</p><p>And then there was the government's philosophy towards the country's Native Americans, which Army Colonel Richard Henry Pratt <a href="http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/4929/" target="_blank">so unforgettably articulated in 1892</a>: "All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man."</p><p>It took another 42 years for Columbus Day to formally become a federal holiday, thanks to <a href="https://www.loc.gov/item/today-in-history/october-12/" target="_blank">a 1934 decree</a> by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.</p><p>He was responding, in part, to a campaign by the Knights of Columbus, a national Catholic charity founded to provide services to Catholic immigrants. Over time, <a href="https://archive.org/details/faithfraternalis00kauf" target="_blank">its agenda expanded</a> to include advocacy for Catholic social values and education.</p><p>When Italians first arrived in the U.S., they were <a href="https://books.google.com/books/about/The_History_of_White_People.html?id=F-GFUyty3SAC" target="_blank">targets of marginalization and discrimination</a>. Officially celebrating Christopher Columbus — an Italian Catholic — became one way to affirm <a href="https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691160825/impossible-subjects" target="_blank">the new racial order that would emerge</a> in the U.S. in the 20th century, one in which the descendants of diverse ethnic European immigrants became "white" Americans.</p>
Indigenous People Power<p>But some Americans started to question why Indigenous people — who'd been in the country all along — didn't have their own holiday.</p><p>In the 1980s, Colorado's American Indian Movement chapter <a href="https://www.westword.com/news/colorado-the-first-state-to-give-columbus-a-holiday-considers-abolishing-it-10844725" target="_blank">began protesting the celebration of Columbus Day</a>. In 1989, activists in South Dakota persuaded the state <a href="https://www.argusleader.com/story/davidmontgomery/2014/10/13/native-american-day/17194651/" target="_blank">to replace</a> Columbus Day with Native American Day. Both states have large Native populations that played active roles in the <a href="http://colorado-aim.blogspot.com/2012/10/war-on-columbus-day.html" target="_blank">Red Power Movement</a> in the 1960s and 1970s, which sought to make American Indian people more politically visible.</p><p>Then, in 1992, at the 500th anniversary of Columbus' first voyage, American Indians in Berkeley, California, organized the first "<a href="https://www.berkeleyside.com/2017/10/09/berkeley-became-1st-city-dump-columbus-day-indigenous-peoples-day" target="_blank">Indigenous Peoples' Day</a>," a holiday the city council soon formally adopted. Berkeley has since replaced its commemoration of Columbus with a celebration of indigenous people.</p><p>The holiday can also trace its origins to the United Nations. In 1977, indigenous leaders from around the world organized a United Nations conference in Geneva to promote indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. <a href="http://ipdpowwow.org/Archives_1.html" target="_blank">Their first recommendation</a> was "to observe October 12, the day of so-called 'discovery' of America, as an International Day of Solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas." It took another 30 years for their work to be formally recognized in the <a href="https://www.un.org/development/desa/indigenouspeoples/declaration-on-the-rights-of-indigenous-peoples.html" target="_blank">United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples</a>, which was adopted in September 2007.</p>
Unexpected Allies<p>Today, cities with significant native populations, like Seattle, Portland and Los Angeles, now celebrate either Native American Day or Indigenous Peoples' Day. And states like Hawaii, Nevada, Minnesota, Alaska and Maine have also formally recognized their Native populations with similar holidays. Many Native governments, like the Cherokee and Osage in Oklahoma, either don't observe Columbus Day or have replaced it with their own holiday.</p><p><span></span>But you'll also find commemorations in less likely places. Alabama <a href="https://www.al.com/news/2017/10/alabamas_weird_holiday_you_jus.html" target="_blank">celebrates Native American Day</a> alongside Columbus Day, as does North Carolina, which, with a population of more than <a href="https://files.nc.gov/governor/documents/files/Indigenous%20Peoples%27%20Day.pdf" target="_blank">120,000 Native Americans</a>, has the largest number of Native Americans of any state east of the Mississippi River.</p><p>Just last year, the town of Carrboro, North Carolina, <a href="https://townofcarrboro.org/CivicSend/ViewMessage/message/69242" target="_blank">issued a resolution</a> to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day. The resolution noted the fact that the town of 21,000 had been built on indigenous land and that it was committed to "protect, respect and fulfill the full range of inherent human rights," including those of indigenous people.</p><p>While Columbus Day affirms the story of a nation created by Europeans for Europeans, Indigenous Peoples Day emphasizes Native histories and Native people — an important addition to the country's ever-evolving understanding of what it means to be American.</p>
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope
Some good news, for a change, about climate change: When hundreds of newsrooms focus their attention on the climate crisis, all at the same time, the public conversation about the problem gets better: more prominent, more informative, more urgent.
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Conservation groups on Thursday sued Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Bureau of Land Management for approving new leases to allow fracking on more than 45,000 acres in western Colorado, including within communities and within a half-mile of a K-12 public school, without analyzing or disclosing environmental and public health threats as required by federal law.
"Fracking is a filthy, dangerous business, and dodging environmental analysis puts people and public lands at risk," said Diana Dascalu-Joffe, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Trump administration is trying to ignore science, public health and climate change threats to enrich corporate polluters, but it can't shrug off the law."
You'd have thought the earth moved exactly two years ago with all the ballyhoo at the State Capitol when Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled the final Colorado Water Plan. I stood in the west foyer of the Capitol as every TV camera in the city pointed at Hickenlooper and his then-Colorado Water Conservation Board director, James Eklund. Bold promises were made that the plan was going to save our rivers, farms, cities, and the whole state from the coming catastrophe of population growth.
I was deeply involved in the Colorado Water Plan process, and at the time I issued a big word of caution in the form of a newspaper column that was printed in seven outlets across the state.
One quarter of the world's population are living in areas where the competition for water resources is extreme, according to a new report from the Washington-based global research group World Resource Institute (WRI), as The Guardian reported.
By Zoe Woodcraft
The sound is like a low, steady rumble, soothing yet powerful. Imperceptible to the human ear, the hums of red rock arches in Bears Ears and Grand Staircase National Monuments carry with them the deep patterns of the earth's plates sparked by events like ocean currents colliding in the open Pacific that pump the ocean floor. On the surface, wind spilling over the arches amplifies the vibrations, giving voice to movements in the earth that began thousands of miles away.
By Tara Lohan
Environmental issues such as polluted drinking water in Michigan and harmful algal blooms in Florida could influence which candidates voters will support in this November's midterm election, said Holly Burke, communications coordinator of the League of Conservation Voters.
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By Stephen Nash
The Trump administration's decision to keep many U.S. national parks open during the current federal government shutdown, with few or no staff, spotlights how popular and how vulnerable these unique places are.
Some states, such as Utah and Arizona, have spent heavily to keep parks open rather than lose tourist revenues. Unfortunately, without rangers to enforce rules, some visitors have strewn garbage and vandalized scenic areas.
By Randi Spivak
Slashing two national monuments in Utah may have received the most attention, but Trump's Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service have been quietly, systematically ceding control of America's public lands to fossil fuel, mining, timber and livestock interests since the day he took office.