Journalist and historian Judith Nies has been tracking this story for nearly four decades. She follows the money and tells us the true story of wealth and water, mendacity, and corruption at the highest levels of business and government. Amid the backdrop of the breathtaking desert landscape, Unreal City shows five cultures colliding Hopi, Navajo, global energy corporations, Mormons, and US government agencies resulting in a battle over resources and the future of the West.
Las Vegas may attract 39 million visitors a year, but the tourists mesmerized by the dancing water fountains at the Bellagio don't ask where the water comes from. They don't see a city with the nation's highest rates of foreclosure, unemployment, and suicide. They don't see the astonishing drop in the water level of Lake Mead where Sin City gets 90 percent of its water supply.
Nies shows how the struggle over Black Mesa lands is an example of a global phenomenon in which giant transnational corporations have the power to separate indigenous people from their energy-rich lands with the help of host governments. Unreal City explores how and why resources have been taken from native lands, what it means in an era of climate change, and why, in this city divorced from nature, the only thing more powerful than money is water.
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About the Author
Table of Contents
Introduction: Phoenix, 1982: A Pattern Set Early On xiii
1 Everyone Comes for the Money 3
2 Goldwater and the Desert Inn 9
3 The Ladies from Black Mesa 27
4 Founding Myths: Laughlin, Nevada 45
5 Gilded Age Land Grabs 61
6 The Indian Lawyer and a Brief History of Coal 69
7 The Mormon West 93
8 Legal Theft 111
9 Learning from Las Vegas 137
10 Chinatown 2 163
11 The Bechtel Family Business 189
12 Roberta Blackgoat's World 211
Epilogue: Who Will Pay? Gambling on the Future 237
Selected Bibliography 269