Mecca's Misery in Calif: 'Unbearable' stench overwhelms desert town - Cabazon Band of Mission Indians - sovereignty
- Mecca's Misery: 'Unbearable' stench overwhelms desert town.
In January 2009, Riverside County fire Capt. Robert Fish ventured to the scrubby desert outpost of Mecca, California, to check on the busy contaminated-soil recycling plant there. He found something unusual, worrying enough to alert his superiors. “While there I observed a number of oil-laden ‘lakes,'” Fish recounted in a department email after his visit to Western Environmental, Inc., located on land owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.
Fish couldn't know it, but his description of the plant being permitted “to some degree” captured the vague nature of Western's legal standing as a business operating on sovereign tribal land. In fact, it has only one permit, issued by its landlord, the Cabazons, who have an obvious interest in keeping their tenant in business.
Mecca's misery: Elementary students live with overpowering odors.
It's easy to overlook just how unnerving the first few, overpowering odor outbreaks were in December 2010 for the 1,100 students, staff and faculty of Saul Martinez Elementary School in Mecca, California.
Mecca's misery: Tribal sovereignty is a key issue in waste dispute.
The tribal sovereignty dilemma affecting Mecca,California, the Cabazon tribe and Western Environmental did not happen in a void. Similar dustups regarding waste disposal on reservation land have taken place across the U.S.