LOS ANGELES — Saving Payahüüpü: The Owens Valley Solar Story, is a documentary short that looks at the land, people, history and future of California’s Owens Valley, including the Manzanar National Historic Site, all of which face a grave threat from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s (LADWP) proposed Southern Owens Valley Solar Ranch (SOVSR).
Payahüüpü, which means, “the place where the water flows,” was the original name given to the Owens Valley by the Owens Valley Paiute, who are indigenous to the area.
The SOVSR is a proposed solar energy generating facility that would cover 1,200-acres (1.8 square miles) of the Owens Valley floor with photovoltaic panels approximately 3.5 miles east of the Manzanar National Historic Site—it would be highly visible from any point at Manzanar.
If this facility is built, it would forever mar Manzanar’s viewshed, intruding upon the desolation and isolation of the site, key reasons that Manzanar was chosen by the United States Government for one of ten American concentration camps in which over 120,000 people of Japanese descent—two-thirds were native-born American citizens—were unjustly incarcerated during World War II.
The desolation and isolation of the area was also a critical part of the U.S. Government’s plans to control the incarcerees, instilling in them a sense of fear and hopelessness.
If the SOVSR is built, no longer will current and future generations be able to truly experience the desolation and isolation of the area surrounding Manzanar. An absolutely critical part of Manzanar’s story will be lost forever.
The SOVSR would also cause severe, irreparable damage to cultural sites that are sacred to the Owens Valley Paiute, and it would spoil one of the pristine views in the Owens Valley, a threat to Inyo County’s tourist-based economy.
The SOVSR would also add to the long laundry list of environmental issues in the Owens Valley caused by the LADWP, primarily due to their groundwater pumping and the diversion of the Owens River and its tributary streams into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, turning what was once a lush, green valley into a virtual dust bowl.
Saving Payahüüpü: The Owens Valley Solar Story features:
- Alan Bacock, Water Program Coordinator, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley
- Kathy Bancroft, Historic Preservation Officer, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation
- Conner Everts, Executive Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance
- Roberta Hunter, Secretary, Tribal Council, Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley
- Jeremiah Joseph, Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone Reservation
- Bryan Kostors, Lead Editor, DeepestValley.com
- Nancy Masters, Board Member, Owens Valley Committee
- Gann Matsuda, Manzanar Committee
- Mary Roper, President, Owens Valley Committee
- Hank Umemoto, Former Manzanar incarceree, and Manzanar Committee member
- Harry Williams, Elder, Bishop Paiute Tribe and Owens Valley Committee
Executive Producer, Angela Mooney D’arcy, Sacred Places Institute for Indigenous Peoples, an affiliate of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples.
You can watch the video below via the Manzanar Committee’s YouTube channel:
The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.