Native Village
Youth and Education news
Volume 3   April 1, 2011

Navajo man helped save environment
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Washington D.C:  Mary Louise Uhlig of the EPA says Les Lobaugh is the most "influential, important and anonymous Native lawyer in America." 

Uhlig said millions of animals, plants and fishes species are alive and protected today due to Mr. Lobaugh's efforts. He has: 

Drafted the Endangered Species Act,
Then drafted the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act
Which in turn led to the formation of the EPA

Les's efforts began more than 40 years ago when he attended Georgetown School of Law and interned with US Senator Alan Cranston. Cranston noticed Lobaugh's concern over the likely extinction of the bald eagle. He challenged the young Navajo man to do something about it.

Les came up with the idea to give federal protection to all endangered species. Cranston guided the legislation through Congress, and President Richard Nixon signed it into law.  

Mr. Lobaugh speaks with passion about the natural world. He cites Christopher Columbus to explain the great differences between European and Native peoples' views of our earth: Aboriginals saw earth as a living organism where sustainability was a key principle. Columbus saw the land from an economic perspective.

Besides their different views,  European explorers brought more than different viewpoints to the Americas. They also carried diseases that killed millions of Natives and enabled whites to colonize the New World. Lobaugh says this "attitude of conquest and subjugation extracted a heavy price." 

However, Lombaugh says that today people are reevaluating our relationship to the environment. This has brought the US closer to native ideals of sustainability.

He also warns that our environmental standards are being challenged. Some politicians and developers claim that EPA rules are an "attack upon our basic freedoms." Some have even demanded that the EPA be dismantled.

Lobaugh believes in  stronger environmental protection laws. He wants a U.S. Constitutional amendment mandating greater care of the natural world. Without this, Lobaugh warns, the America faces certain ecological disaster.

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