FIRST NATIONS, FIRST RESISTANCE—
SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL AT BIG MOUNTAIN, BLACK MESA, AZ.
On behalf of their peoples, their ancestral lands, and future
generations, more than 350 Dineh residents of Black Mesa continue
their staunch resistance to the efforts of the US Government– acting
in the interests of the Peabody Coal Company—to relocate the Dineh
and destroy their homelands. This land is the basis for the Black
Mesa peoples’ traditions, livelihoods, and spirituality.
At this moment the decision makers in Washington D.C. are planning
ways to seize tribal lands to extract mineral resources. The coal
companies are funding both the Republican and Democratic parties
because they have huge interests at stake. Presidential candidate
John McCain recently sponsored forced-relocation legislation
targeting these Dineh families; Peabody Coal, the world’s largest
coal company, currently has plans to expand its strip mine operations
and to seize more deep aquifers beneath these indigenous lands.
Peabody Coal Company has completely dug up burials, sacred sites, and
shrines designated specifically for offerings, preventing religious
practices. Not only were the principal concerns of the communities
directly affected by the legislation never addressed, those
communities were not even notified.
“The Big Mountain matriarchal leaders always believed that resisting
forced relocation will eventually benefit all ecological systems,
including the human race.” Bahe Keediniihii, Dineh organizer and
translator states. “Continued residency by families throughout the
Big Mountain region has a significant role in the intervention of
Peabody’s future plan for Black Mesa coal to be the major source of
unsustainable energy, the growing dependency on fossil fuel, and
escalating green house gas emissions. We will continue to fight to
defend our homelands.”
LIFE FOR RESIDENTS OF THE BIG MOUNTAIN REGION IN 2008:
Institutional racism fueled neglect and abandonment of public needs
such as water, maintenance of roads, health care, and schools. Daily
life for Big Mountain residents hasn’t changed too much over the
years, except that more of them have become elderly and now need
additional help. Due to lack of local job opportunities and federal
strangulation on Indian self-sufficiency, extended families are
forced to live many miles away to earn incomes and have all the
social amenities which include choices in mandatory, American
education. It is increasingly difficult for families to come back to
visit their relatives in these remote areas due to the unmaintained
roads and the rising cost of transportation.
ANNUAL SPRING PLANTING PROJECTS NEED EXTRA SUPPORT THIS YEAR
The consistent rain and snow this past winter have been hard on many
of the families living on Black Mesa, especially the elders. Because
of the roads being impassable for such a long time, supply and
medical trips were limited, as well as visits from extended families.
(Black Mesa is a remote area in the high desert, rich with canyon
lands and soft dirt that turns to clay when it gets wet.) But the
desert thrives on water; there are many healthy new lambs and baby
goats, as the life and land continue to cycle and regenerate. The
families are thankful and excited about spring planting and there is
much work to be done!
This spring, many fields left fallow will be planted. April is the
time for preparing them for planting. This involves fixing fences,
clearing out brush, and fixing water damage. May is the season for
shearing the sheep and planting the fields with corn, squash, melons,
BRING YOUR TOOLS:
Hand shears for sheering sheep, steel files, shovels, picks, axes,
mattocks, posthole diggers, a roll of barbed wire, fence posts,
leather gloves, heavy duty hoes, fencing pliers, and some single-axe
& shovel handles.
BMIS WILL HELP YOU COME TO BLACK MESA PREPARED!
You are invited to come to Black Mesa any time of the year, not just
spring and fall. You can come alone or as a pair for a longer
duration, or as an organized work crew for a shorter time. Since
establishing a routine is demanding on the host family, folks are
encouraged to stay a minimum of three weeks. If you are not able to
make this time commitment, check in with BMIS about organizing a work
crew to stay a minimum of several days to a week. Guests are
expected to be adequately prepared prior to staying with families on
Black Mesa, which is a very remote area in a high desert terrain.
Thoroughly read the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Booklet and
fill out the supporter application form. ( http://www.blackmesais.org/
cultural_sen.html ) Email or snail-mail it to us. Contact BMIS as far
in advance as possible so that we can support you in your visit to
Black Mesa, answer any questions that you may have, and so that we
can make arrangements with your host family. We can also be reached
by our voicemail, 928-773-8086.
FALL ‘08 CARAVAN TO BLACK MESA IS IN THE WORKS!
Thank you. May the resistance of Big Mountain and surrounding
communities on Black Mesa always be remembered and supported!
Black Mesa Indigenous Support
P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Voice Mail: 928.773.8086
Black Mesa Indigenous Support is a small grass-roots all-volunteer
group organized to work with and support the issues of traditional,
indigenous peoples of Black Mesa who are impacted by the coal mining
and forced relocation policies of the US government.