Bricklin also said opponents are branded racists by development supporters. “You get accused of being prejudiced against the tribes if you dare to challenge the project,” he said.
From the history, it does seem the Tribe lacked the expertise to navigate the hazardous waste disposal issue itself and was exploited --
The trouble started in the late 1980s, when the band signed its first lease with a California trash company. That lease stalled when the company dumped 700,000 pounds of asbestos-contaminated waste on Cortina land before final permission was granted.
Years later, Earthworks, a British Columbia venture capital company with no other business projects, negotiated a 25-year landfill lease with the band. The renewable lease will bring at least $15,000 a month to the tribe, up to a maximum of 3 to 5 percent of landfill revenues.
In 2007, the band began leasing nearly 70 percent of its land to be used for a landfill by a joint project between a Canadian venture capital company and a California waste hauler. The company plans to truck in 1,500 tons of municipal waste a day and bury it deep in Cortina’s canyons.
It would seem that the Tribe first got into bed with someone and accepted asbestos waste and now they're married to a partner with no clear expertise in the field.
The math seemed unconvincing, and although the details of the lease are not fully disclosed, here's my math --
1500 tons per day X 30 days = 45,000 TONS PER MONTH
$15,000 PER MONTH/45,000 TONS PER MONTH = .33 CENTS PER TON ???
$15,000 PER MONTH/ 160 MEMBERS OF THE TRIBE = $93.75 PER MONTH EACH
Is that math correct?
It would seem that there are other foreign investors more than willing to take advantage of small tribes that either lack the ability to negotiate fair deals for themselves or have leaders willing to trade their heritage and their lands for future promises of riches, but $93.75 hardly seems like riches.
Wright said most members who live on the reservation don’t want the landfill, but the leadership and others who live outside the reservation see it as an opportunity to get paid.
“They see those Indians with a new car every year, and they want it, too”
I wonder how many cars they can buy for $93.75 PER MONTH?
The exemptions from environmental regulations and local statutes intended to protect resources, by land held in trust by the BIA are eerily familiar --
...California regulations, ... require at least five feet of separation between groundwater and waste.
Critics say the poverty of non-gaming tribes makes them vulnerable to environmentally hazardous projects.
“I think the Indians got sold a bill of goods,” she said. “You dangle money in front of people, and that carrot looks awfully good at the end of the string. And that string is a very short string.”
The article is worth reading in its entirety --
Outsiders Target Indian Land for Risky Business