March 29 to April 5,
Please note that this year's walk includes
the Mahavir Janant (Jain), Holy Thursday, Good Friday
and Easter (Christian), Hanuman Jayanti (Hindu), Passover
(Jewish), and Theravadin New Year (Buddhist).
The Sacred Peace Walk is over for
this year. The participants were inspired by the experience,
filled up by the spirits and physical presence of
wind, fire, rock and even a little rain, as well as
rituals for Passover and Easter. Phone NDE (702.646.4814)
and we'll be sure to inform you of next year's plans.
Meanwhile, look at our other events pages including
the August Desert Witness, and subscribe for our quarterly
newsletter, Desert Voices.
See Live Updates Daily:
9 Men & 12 Women
Arrested After Easter Sunday Mass
Followed By Simultaneous
Vigils at Creech AFB & NTS
MERCURY, NV: On Sunday April 4th at the conclusion
of the Sacred Peace Walk, pilgrims to America's nuclear
proving grounds walked to the boundary of the Nevada
Test Site led by Western Shoshone families. About
40 people were gathered for Mass near the boundary,
then 21 people decided to cross the line, for which
they were arrested by Nye County Sherrifs. U.S. Department
of Energy (DOE) employees were on the scene, confiscating
flags and banners from the peace activists who were
arrested. On Easter Monday two of the prayer-activists
repeated their line-crossing at 7:00 AM, while another
vigil continued at Creech AFB, just 19 miles away
in Indian Springs, NV. Each Nye County citation issued
for trespassing carried a $632 price tag.
Since 1988 such citations have carried no legal
weight when peace activists conduct these rituals
of civil resistance. None ever pay the fine, and Nye
County never follows up on these "arrests".
Western Shoshone officials and NDE participants agree
that Nye County and the DOE violate international
law by nuclear weapons activities in Nevada and the
"arrests are unlawful because of the internationally
disputed zone of the Nevada Test Site. "Each
vigiler has a permit from the Western Shoshone National
Council to come, gather and go in their country, including
at the perimiter of the Nevada Test Site," said
Marcus Page of NDE.
"We walked in the footsteps of a long legacy
of peace walkers and spiritual leaders to draw attention
to the nuclear dangers that continue to threaten our
sacred planet and the community of life," said
According to Sacred Peace Walker Colette Wisnewski,
"My grandaughter carries my genes. I pray today
that she will accept her spiritual inheritance and
move her prayer into action against atrocities in
NDE's 62-mile, annual pilgrimage to the Nevada
Test Site began on March 29 with an orientation in
Las Vegas and preparation for our six-day walk starting
on March 30. The main Walk ends on Sunday (which happens
to be Easter), with an extra special action on Monday
for those who can hang out longer in the desert.
We have a support vehicle available for those
who need extra support, and for emergencies as well.
Some Walkers on the Sacred Peace Walk only come for
a few days--all are welcome to do as much or as little
of the SPW as the Spirit calls..
A few answers to
We have a port-a-potty that we tow along with the
support crew. Every hour or two at the most, the walkers
and support vehicle, with port-a-potty in tow meet
up. People can walk and ride at your discretion. Snacks
will be available, and you can carry some with you,
along with some water and what-have-you. Your larger
bags and camping gear will be transported for you,
so you don't need a real backpack like for use in
Most walkers who arrive on Monday in time for the
orientation will stay at the Catholic Worker House
on comfy mats. The Passover Seder will also be there.
People who arrive earlier than that may be housed
elsewere, but NDE will help shuttle you to where you
need to go. If you have your own vehicle, we'll help
guide you on where to be and how to get there most
easily. For people who arrive during the walk, we
have local friends who are willing to help get people
from transit hubs and bring them to meet up with the
At the Goddess Temple, everyone can use the guest
house socially, but for sleeping, only the women can
sleep inside. Men are welcome inside, but need to
camp outside on the ample grounds. Women can do either.
The Indian Springs Motel is available; you can be
one of four people in our NDE room, or you can rent
your own room.
People with cars will be guided about where best
to park cars and be shuttled to meet and rejoin the
walk. Some people offer their cars for use as additional
shuttle vehicles as needed.
Driving Directions to Peace Camp:
Take Hwy 95 North out of Las Vegas. 65 miles
out of town you will see the Mercury exit (past Indian
Springs and Cactus Springs). Take the Mercury exit,
then make a U-turn when it's safe, so you can then
drive under the freeway, to the south. (If you fail
to make the U-Turn as you drive NorthEast, you will
come to the legal boundary of the Nevada Test Site.)
See also the Map of Peace Walk Route (PDF)
See images and
video links from the 2009 Sacred Peace Walk
of the 2008 Sacred Peace Walk
the 2007 Peace Walk
Full-scale nuclear tests at the NTS were stopped
in 1992, in large part to grassroots pressure by NDE
and others. What is going on there now that motivates
The government is working on new and expanded plans
for the Nevada Test Site. Some of it is couched in
the language of anti-terrorism and treaty verification,
but the overarching work there undermines our commitment
to nuclear disarmament. They are currently deciding
on the scope of an update to the Site-Wide Environmental
Impact Statement to govern activities there for the
next 10 years. Calling for the SWEIS to consider the
environmental consequences of nuclear weapons and
war in as broad a context possible, NDE made the following
points when submitting comments:
1. The scope of the SWEIS needs to include the
possibility of closing the NTS in its entirety. Closing
the Test Site would be a concrete, confidence-building
sign to the world that the United States will not
enlarge or re-shape its nuclear stockpile and is sincere
in working for nuclear disarmament.
2. The Nevada Test Site land rightfully belongs
to the Western Shoshone Nation, and their wishes should
be paramount. The Treaty of Ruby Valley (1863) grants
their Nation the NTS land and more. They should have
the final say regarding any of the work mentioned
in this message or the SWEIS.
3. Stockpile Stewardship undermines our moral
position as a nation in the face of other countries
seeking nuclear weapons. Proposed NTS work must not
undermine the obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons
as per Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty (NPT). The Tonopah Test Range (TTR), sub-critical
tests, Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research
(JASPER) and other Stockpile Stewardship programs
should be eliminated.
4. No quantity or quality of environmental education
programs like "Operation Clean Desert" with
its "Dr. Proton" and "Adam the Atom"
justify keeping the NTS open. No single polluter can
compare with the United States military. Nothing in
the world can cause as much environmental devastation
in as short a time, lasting for as long a time, as
nuclear weapons. Any educational programs conducted
by the NTS or its managers must be as a warning against
further contamination and destruction.
5. If not closed in its entirety, the Nevada Test
Site should be closed to all but "Environmental
Restoration." No new hazards or toxins should
be introduced to the NTS, including low or mixed level
waste from other military sites. At least one of the
test shot sites needs to be characterized fully to
track off-site drift of contaminants. Groundwater
monitoring stations need to be better designed and
placed, and they must test for other contaminants
in addition to tritium. Evidence of plutonium drifting
much faster than expected needs to be further researched.
6. Any project such as the Nonproliferation Test
and Evaluation Complex (NPTEC) needs to be conducted
in support of the International Atomic Energy Agency's
(IAEA) mandate to monitor NPT compliance. Furthermore,
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization
has the task of monitoring compliance with the CTBT,
not the United States. While individual countries
have an interest in being able to verify treaty compliance,
the United States needs to focus more on taking concrete
steps towards disarming than worrying about other
7. The Renewable Energy Option has potential for
positive use, but the Western Shoshone should determine
what happens at the NTS.
8. The livelihood of workers at the NTS is important,
but developing or maintaining nuclear weapons shouldn't
be viewed as a jobs program.
The Stockpile Stewardship Program was established
in response to the Fiscal Year 1994 National Defense
Authorization Act (Public Law 103-160), which requires,
in the absence of nuclear testing, a program to:
1. Support a focused, multifaceted program to increase
the understanding of the enduring stockpile;
2. Predict, detect, and evaluate potential problems
of the aging of the stockpile;
3. Refurbish and re-manufacture weapons and components,
as required; and
4. Maintain the science and engineering institutions
needed to support the nations nuclear deterrent,
now and in the future.
Stockpile stewardship is inconsistent with the mandate
under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty which requires that the United States and other
nuclear armed countries to work to eliminate their
nuclear weapons. Under the pretense of making sure
that what nuclear arms exist are reliable and safe,
new types of bombs and delivery systems continue to
be designed and tested.
The US is actively seeking new warhead designs for
new warfighting scenarios under the Reliable Replacement
Warhead program. . . .
New missiles and other delivery systems that are
more accurate have prompted weapons designers to promote
the manufacture of new, smaller nuclear warheads.
The size of the bomb doesn't change the fact that
a new weapon is in contradiction of the agreement
to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the stockpile.
What is happening at the Nevada Test Site?
The Nevada Test Site is home to classified research.
As such, one can't be sure of all that is going on
there. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Energy
(DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)
maintains a website that describes research and facilities
at the NTS. Much of the currently listed activities
Capabilities specific to the Nevada Test Site include:
Atlas, the Big Explosives Experimental Facility (BEEF),
the Device Assembly Facility (DAF), the Joint Actinide
Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) Facility,
and the U1a Complex for subcritical nuclear tests.
The last subcritical nuclear explosion was in 2006.
According to the Nevada Site Office of the DOE-NNSA,
they hope to conduct three new sub-crit tests by the
end of 2009.
The Atlas pulsed-power program is in "cold standby"
meaning that the building with the machinery has no
electricity. At this time there are no plans to restart
Atlas experiments. BEEF has "limited activity"
according the the Nevada Site Office. The DAF remains
ready ready to assemble bomb tests, though none are
scheduled. Because of the DAF is the most secured
most "hardened" of research facilities,
it gets used for other experiments with highly radioactive
materials. The DAF also houses the JASPER
What is happening at Creech Air Force Base in
is home to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing which
is responsible for flying the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9
Reaper "unmanned aircraft systems" (UAS),
sometimes called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and
commonly refered to as "drones." Most drones
are small and slow, equiped with cameras for spying.
However, the Predator and Reaper are armed, and control
for the firing of Hellfire missiles or the dropping
of bombs (which the Reaper can also carry) comes from
crews at Creech. Ground crews on site where a drone
is deployed launch and land the aircraft. Control
is transfered to Creech or one of a few other air
force bases during a mission.
Since NDE first vigilled outside Creech Air Force
Base in September 2008, demonstrating against Unmanned
Aerial Vehicle (UAV) attacks, several other groups
around the country have taken up our call. The Drone,
as UAVs are commonly referred to, has become the icon
of Obamas wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The military is responding to the widespread deaths
of civilians by these robotic hunter-killers and the
outcry against them, but not by reducing the attacks.
Rather, they are adjusting their spin
here and in theatre. They are also designing
smaller missiles, allowing UAVs to carry more of themnot
a positive development, even if each one destroys
resource page on the NDE website has links to
many articles and reports about these weapons.
We continue to receive much encouragement to link
our work for nuclear disarmament to the need to stop
these new weapons from becoming the new arms precipice
like the A-bomb before it. The following excerpt from
our April action, Ground the Drones...Lest We Reap
the Whirlwind expresses well our opposition to these
tools of war:
With audacity that would confound Orwell, the Pentagon
touts the true hunter-killer role of these
robot drones. Armed with Hellfire missiles
and other weaponry, they have names that suit their
lethal uses: the MQ-9 Reaper and the MQ-1 Predator.
Such tools can kill but not pacify. By killing civilians,
UAV drones do not prevent or eliminate terrorism,
but instead incite more violence and retaliation.
Proponents of the use of UAVs insist that there is
a great advantage to fighting wars in real-time
(with a 2-second satellite delay from Nevada to the
Middle-East) by pilots sitting at consoles in offices
on air bases far from the dangerous front line of
military activity. With less risk to the lives of
our soldiers and hence to the popularity and careers
of politicians, the deaths of enemy noncombatants
by the thousands are counted acceptable. The illusion
that war can be waged with no domestic cost dehumanizes
both us and our enemies. It fosters a callous disregard
for human life that can lead to even more recklessness
on the part of politicians.
The idea that technology can provide a cleaner and
safer battlefield is seductive but has been proven
a lie. From the catapult and crossbow, through the
use of poison gas and airplanes in World War I, the
atom bomb, helicopters and napalm in Vietnam to the
smart bombs of the Gulf War, war has only
grown deadlier. Technological advances may reduce
the danger of casualties among the military personnel
in the short run, but with each advance the number
of civilian deaths multiplies and every war of the
past century has numbered more children than soldiers
among its victims.
Why is Nevada Desert Experience bringing attention
to Creech Air Force Base?
NDE's mission includes trying "to mobilize people
of all faiths to work toward nuclear abolition and
nonviolent social change." While the drones aren't
armed with nuclear weapons (although some may contain
depleted uranium, poisoning people and the environment),
the United States' history of threatening to use nuclear
weapons and the various ways the U.S. has selectively
spread nuclear technology including for nuclear weapons
and hasn't worked to really eliminate nuclear weapons
but rather wants to enhance our nuclear threat by
modernization, every modern war or conflict that includes
the United States, is a nuclear war in spirit, and
a radioactive war in practical physics.
Remote military systems like UAVs are able to threaten
others without putting one's own soldiers in harm's
way. That seems like an obvious "good" in
a military sense. But new weapons get used and used
again. NDE has based our years of activism on engaging
the opposition, not trying to harm or even berate
the opposition. NDE doesn't support new weapons development.
One tactic of NDE's praxis of nonviolence is to
facilitate the EXPERIENCE of this part of the Mojave
desert, here in Nevada and Newe Sogobia. Living
in the desert for a week on the Sacred Peace Walk
in the context of an interfaith community helps people
respect and adore our desert. Creech AFB, Nellis
AFB, the Yucca Mountain Project and the NTS are all
situated in this awesome, delicate, intense desert.
The violence of our opponents in this land and abroad
can be thwarted through the practice of loving all
living beings, including the vibrant wilderness of
Physical distance doesn't always insulate one from
the harmful effects of killing. It is easier to drop
a bomb and leave than to see the death and destruction
that one has caused. Still, the sensor operators in
UAV crews are watching, and feeling the remorse that
comes with such violence. More chaplains and counselors
have been brought in, and we can take solace that
the video-gaming of making war isn't as dehumanizing
as we might fear.
Nestled between Nellis Air Force Base, with its world-leading
stockpile of nuclear weapons, and the Nevada Test
Site, the most bombed place on Earth, Creech Air Force
Base is in the heart of the desert that NDE reveres
and is yet another desecration of this beautiful land.
Will 2010 Be The Time? Will This Be The Place?
Join a spiritual pilgrimage from
the epitome of unsustainable excess consumption
to the place
of the greatest violence on earth. Come help us stop
this suicidal nuclear violence! Come walk the ways
of peace in the desert! Hundreds of people have walked
from Las Vegas, Nevada to the Nevada (Nuclear) Test
Site for the cause of abolishing nuclear weapons.
(The Test Site is situated unlawfully on lands belonging
to the Western Shoshone Nation. Since 1951 the U.S.
has contaminated the desert and the earth 1000 feet
below by exploding over 900 nuclear weapons tests
which included over 1000 detonations of nuclear bombs.)