The Campo Indian Landfill project received ample criticism. However, it differs from the other two cases discussed in this website because of the anomaly that it presents. For the Campo Indians, their resistance was towards the mainly white neighbors and mainstream environmental justice community resisting the development of the landfill.[1]

Donna and Ed Tisdale:

McVicker, Nicholas, "Donna Tisdale stands in her Boulevard Ranch, Sept. 28, 2015." Image Link
McVicker, Nicholas, “Donna Tisdale stands in her Boulevard Ranch, Sept. 28, 2015.” Image Link

Water’s relationship with life rang loudly among those resisting the development of the landfill on the Campo Reservation. However, those resisting the landfill were not members of the Campo Tribe. Among the most active protesters of the landfill were Donna and Ed Tisdale, whose property “adjoins the Campo reservation near the site of the proposed landfill.”[2] Donna used grassroots organizing to bring attention to this case among other neighbors and the larger environmental justice community.[3] With the community, a total of over a hundred thousand dollars was spent on the “campaign to stop the Campo project,” with a large chunk of it spent by the Tisdales themselves.[4] Donna was one of the main organizers for the Backcountry Against Dumps (BAD) campaign.[5] Much of BAD’s campaign surrounded the fact that the water would be shared and anything that poses a major threat to it should be stopped.[6]

Arol Wulf:

Arol Wulf “was a lifelong activist,” and “has long been committed to causes involving Indians…a supporter of Lenard Peltier and the American Indian Movement (AIM), as well as the Navajos who refused to move from Big Mountain, terrorist disputed by the Hopis and the Navajos”.[7] Throughout this case, “for Arol it was a disquieting experience,” to fight against the Campo Tribe, but “she felt that her non-Indian neighbors were being ‘railroaded’.”[8] In both Donna and Arol’s fight against the landfill, they used sayings like “no water, no future,” in order to express their concerns for the potential groundwater contamination from the landfill leachate.[9] Arol and Donna claimed that they would be “fighting anybody that was trying to put a dump in [their] area… and this has nothing to do with race.”[10]This gets into the debate over whose backyard is being threatened and who gets to make decisions about it.[11] Throughout the process, BAD collaborated with other environmental and Indigenous groups in their efforts.[12]

Shirley Bautista and Karen Hopkins-Davies:

Shirley Bautista and Karen Hopkinds-Davies were “two Indian women…Assiniboine Sioux who lived near the Camp reservation.”[13] These two women spoke out at the anti-landfill rally held on October 26, 1989, by discussing the ways that Native People have been “exploited by large corporations,” and how “Native People do not believe in the destruction of Mother Earth.”[14] This last section received much “approval form the almost exclusively white audience.”[15] They accused the Campos for wanting to “be the ones selling out [their] own people.”[16]

Ralph Goff:

Campo Kumeyaay Nation Leadership, Chairman Ralph Goff, Image Link
Campo Kumeyaay Nation Leadership, Chairman Ralph Goff, Image Link

Ralph Goff was the Campo tribal chairman.[17] Goff “rejected the idea that the tribe and BAD were necessarily on opposing sides.”[18] His premise was that, the Campos were prepared to handle any environmental protection measures that needed to be taken with the landfill.[19] He found it insulting that people did not believe that the Campos did not “understand the potential dangers posed by the project.”[20] However, his criticism was not about whether or not the Campos have sovereignty to make land use decisions, but that “the Campo leaders were not even trained, [and] were willing to take the project on no matter what the consequences [were].”[21] In Goff’s statement to the New York Times, he “suggested that the opposition was rooted in bigotry. ‘The issue is simple. They do not want a landfill regardless if it is safe or not. The only reason is they are saying Indians are not able to do it.’”[22]



[1] McGovern, Dan, The Campo Indian Landfill War: The Fight for Gold in California’s Garbage, (Norman, Oklahoma: Oklahoma University Press, 1995): Cover Summary.

[2] Ibid, 7.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 9.

[5] Ibid,9.

[6] Ibid, 15.

[7] Ibid, 10.

[8] Ibid, 11.

[9] Ibid, 12.

[10] Ibid, 18.

[11] Ibid, 21.

[12] Ibid, 20.

[13] Ibid, 13.

[14] Ibid, 13.

[15] Ibid, 13.

[16] Ibid, 14.

[17] Ibid, 14.

[18] Ibid, 14.

[19] Ibid, 14.

[20] Ibid, 14.

[21] Ibid, 15.

[22] Ibid, 18.