Alibi V.25 No.28 • July 14-20, 2016 

Newscity

News City
Robert Maestas

Powwow Inks Cannabis Deal

Starting in 2017, one of our nations largest Native American Powwows will not only have a new venue but also a new name. The Gathering of Nations, a yearly Albuquerque event that draws more than 90,000 spectators and 700 tribes to three days of dancing, cultural celebration and native solidarity has a new sponsor. In May the festival announced plans to move to Expo New Mexico after their contract with UNM was not renewed. The Gathering of Nations had been held at UNM's Basketball areaonce called the Pit, but now renamed Wise Pies Arena due to corporate sponsorshipfor 30 years.

Beginning with next year's iteration of the storied gathering, the powwow will be called the Ultra Health Gathering of Nations. Ultra Health is an integral provider in the medical cannabis industry, overseeing operations that provide medical marijuana materials and services to patients in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.

This past Wednesday Gathering of Nations founder Derek Matthews and Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez inked a deal that includes corporate sponsorship through 2022, with an option to expand the partnership through 2027. Rodriguez, formerly the New Mexico Human Services Secretary (under Governor Gary Johnson) and later COO at Lovelace Health Systems, said, “The Gathering of Nations Powwow is a very spiritual and social celebration. At Ultra Health we believe such components are vital to well-being, and sponsoring the event was an obvious decision in light of the importance Native people have historically put on healing and natural medicine."

Prior to securing the sponsorship of the big dance, Ultra Health had applied to sponsor the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, a high-flying request that was ultimately declined.

Goodbye Radiation and Heavy Metal!

Las week, the New Mexico Department of Environment and the US Department of Energy signed a consent agreement that will allow remediation efforts directed at cleaning up the mess left behind by the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos Canyon to finally begin. Toxic and contaminated soil left over from the project that gave birth to the atomic bomb and consequently the postmodern age are still a thing at the labs, more than 70 years after research on nuclear weapons began in the backwoods of Northern New Mexico. The five sites at the lab that need cleanup are contaminated with plutonium and arsenic and comprise one acre of land and about 125 cubic yards of soil. The poisoned earth will be removed and stored in a secure location (Tech. Area 21 at Los Alamos National Labs) at a nuclear research facility until a permanent storage place is determined.

In related news, the state Environment Department announced last month that efforts were underway to safely secure and find adequate storage facilities in Los Alamos for a barrel housing approximately 2.1 grams of the radioactive element Americium which had been inadvertently stored at a warehouse owned by the company Thermo Fisher Scientific on the capitol city's south side. The barrel containing radioactive material was removed by federal workers and taken to Los Alamos National Lab for final disposition, according to NM Environment secretary Ryan Flynn, who said of the effort, “Our priority will always be to protect New Mexicans and tackle problems that others might shy away from, and I’m proud to say that we all succeeded in this case.”