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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Corporate Racism: Radioactive Policies for Indian Country


[Photo: Priscilla Bomb, Nevada Test Site. Inset Image: Dineh uranium miners near Cameron, AZ]
Our Out-of-Control Reliance on Electrical Energy Pose a Rapid Demise of the Human Era
By Naabaahii (Kat Bahe) Keediniihii, Sheep Dog Nation Media

The U.S. economy maybe down but Americans will never stop or limit their consumer spending on electrical energy, gadgets, appliance, and recreational toys and vehicles that are powered by electricity generated by fossil and nuclear fuels. At what cost do American consumers able to acquire such conveniences?

The first thing that comes to mind for people of conscience is air-water pollution and other toxic contamination. A very few conscience peoples will think about indigenous humans, plants and animals. Let me try to take you further and ask, what do think one feels when this cost of devastation is taken place in their backyard, to their peoples, and it has greatly impacted his or her spiritual state of existence?

It is a feeling of much, much sickness and suffering. Complete loneliness because you are not normal. You cannot party, have a “good time,” relax, talk about popular happy subjects, and others consider you weird and out-of-place. You feel rejected by both the “normal thinking” society and by federal states. (I) can only dig very hard to find that old ancient spirit of natural happiness, and try to “find peace in (my) endeavors and projects,” as a friend wrote to me recently.

Territories of indigenous peoples of the U.S. (so-called Native Americans) become the price for electrical power’s beginnings. These territories hold much of the natural resources and which were once considered as mother earth and that it was sacred to these aborigines. How these issues are confronted and how they are resolved are forums where free America fails. Environmental policies are finalized by the consent of powerful energy and utility companies who influence governments at every level. We only hear about environmentalist and certain Indian groups that try to collaborate “legally” to intervene or make appeals.

We, however, never hear about the real victims that are paying the price. On Black Mesa in northeastern Arizona, small land-based and traditional families at Big Mountain are holding off Peabody coal mining by resisting federal relocation policies. This has been possible only through “illegal” means by continuing the natural and ancient habitation of ancestral lands. Though this handful of resisters are not mentioned in any updates by native activists and environmentalists, they have had a great impact in keeping Peabody Energy at bay and keeping the air you breathe, today, a little cleaner. Also, the U.S. federal government has spent several billions of tax-payer dollars since 1955 to: undermine tribalism of the Dineh and Hopis, partition Black Mesa and Big Mountain for mining claims, relocate and displace thousands of indigenous people, maintain a state of fear through the U.S. Justice Department and the Bureau of Indian Affairs policing.

Uranium and the Nuclear-Cycle:

Along with the black poison of extracted fossil fuels, the extraction of radioactive uranium has reemerged in northern Arizona and the four corners region. Other regions across Dineh (Navajo) country remain as “hot spots” or the presence of heavy radiation exposure. One thing governments and environmental actions collaborate on together is leaving the real radiation victims out of their agendas. Case in point is the communities of Cameron, Arizona which is next door to the Grand Canyon. The Navajo Nation has kept the citizens of Cameron, Black Falls and Shadow Mountain in silence while hundreds have died from radiation poisoning and surviving victims are forbidden to drink from local water supplies.

"We only use it for washing but our animals have to drink it, too,” the residents have stated. They only use local water to wash their dishes which they eat and drink from, and wash the clothes they wear on their bodies. Drinking water has to be hauled in from Flagstaff (50 miles) or Tuba City (30 miles). The livestock have to drink from local contaminated wells and they very often become the meat that is eaten or sold to the beef industry.

In 2001, I visited Alice Horse who lived right under a 300 Kv power lines that comes from the Four Corners and San Juan power plants, and she also lives next to three mine pits that were recently covered with extracted waste tailings. Clay Big Man at World War II artilleryman and veteran claims he is suffering from an “incurable disease” according to his doctor. His face and limited physical mobility tells of his constant suffering. Alice lives less than two miles from Clay and she briefly mentions people that have died from cancer, and she points across the river to some distance houses where she knows of a very young girl who has cancer. Alice, a traditional elder, looks strong in her old age and has a slight cheerful demeanor, but she shows much sadness as she looks at the ground to talk about the destruction that the uranium job opportunities brought.

“My husband worked the mines, and we were all happy because he can just ride his horse to work and we had money to live better. Money also brought alcohol and cancer to the men of the local area. Maybe the poison from this green dirt (lee’t’so’h) would have killed him but the alcohol took his life instead.”

Black Falls is not too far from the Wupaki National Monument, about a two hour donkey ride, and that community has made complaints to the Navajo Nation government for lack of concern for clean water and the alarming water test results. Wells were tested for radiation levels by the sole efforts of local resident, Milton Yazzie. He has tried to make it his mission to have more studies and to get the Navajo Nation to supply clean water, and to let the world know that nuclear ‘holocaust’ is not yet over in Dineh country.

The Potential Demise of Culture, Ecology and the Humans:

Along with earth’s Arctic melt down, we may melt into history with our daily ingestion of radioactive heavy metals that come from automobile exhaust, coal fired power plants and nuclear power. Certainly, I don’t want that for my grandchildren or their children, and I truly think that if everyone knew more they would now viciously and desperately, try to do the right thing to stop our fossil and nuclear fuel addictions.

But this addiction is a runaway train: computers and their servers suck up energy 24/7, the digital age increases these addiction, there is no push or mentioning of alternative green energies unless a politician feels obligated to say it, and our minds are confined to everything from the Worldwide Web to the tiny cell phone LCDs. We are only bothered if we got rained on, got too cold or got too hot, and that our little capsule world was intruded by issues of the environment, “American Indians,” freaks in the streets, and more “Native American” whining.

Meantime, let us begin the Beauty Way Ceremonies which is about helping others and as the Big Mountain medicine woman said, work together to save the ecology, the culture and wisdoms that go with them. This can only be achieved by sustaining communities that embrace unity and kinship and by not embracing corporate grants that manipulate potential, reliable organizations. The sacred ways and circles await us at Big Mountain and at other forgotten indigenous resistance territories. We’ll see you there.

© Sheep Dog Nation Rocks, 2009

Two links that has articles on the current status of “the nuclear madness” in the southwest USA:

30 years ago, the Church Rock Uranium Spill, http://www.navajotimes.com/news/index.php

Uranium at Grand Canyon, Red Butte,
http://grandcanyonnews.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&subsectionID=1&articleID=8207

Monday, July 20, 2009

Words from A Big Mtn. Medicine Woman

©Photo by Dan Budnik, 1978, Elders at the Partition Fence

Big Mountain Elder: “State of the Dineh and the Big Mountain Resistance”

July 19, 2009, Big Mountain, Black Mesa – A sign just outside of Flagstaff says, “Beat the Heat!” as it tries to lure people into a get together of grown-up adults that ‘play’ with model airplanes. This gathering seemed mostly of non-Indians scheming to make some money and sell more membership. 120 miles away on the reservation at Big Mountain some families still do not have electricity and the day time temperature has reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no icy refrigerators to provide a 40 ounce glass of lemonade with ice or a chilled, 32 ounce of sugar called Coca Cola. It felt like the “Heat has Beaten Us” at Big Mountain, but the U.S. Relocation Policies in the name of Peabody Energy has not beaten the Dineh, yet.

As we sip on a cup of shade or room temperature water, the traditional elder resister takes the opportunity with my visit to talk about the struggle to resist relocation. She is a medicine woman as well as being a sheep rancher in her late sixty. I wish not to disclose her name because of her status as a healer and spiritual leader.

“The Dineh, overall, have transformed their ways of doing the rituals. We here at Big Mountain, those of us resisting the harsh policies aimed at us, have tried to set examples through speaking out about strengthening our languages and our ceremonial ways. We even had hopes through the sacred, Lakota Sun Dance. The Dineh across the reservation try to conduct the great healing ways like the Great Gathering Ritual and Dance (a.k.a. “Squaw Dance”) and the Yei Bi Chei Dances. Now, these have become nothing but social gatherings where people come for the feasts and the giveaways. Once all foods and gifts have been acquired, the ceremonial grounds are suddenly deserted. The Clans of the Staff-Receivers are all gone except for lone Receiver of the Staff. The Initiator Clans of the Gathering Ritual are all gone, too, except the Patients. No one is around to sing and hold the final and very sacred dance. This great ritual of the Dineh has become a very silent conclusion ceremony which was once full of celebratory and jubilant singing and dancing.

“All this (American) greed and mannerism has taken away the ancient, traditional thoughts of the old time Dineh. ‘Taken away’ just like relocation. It has been moved away or it has been separated from us. Traditional parents and their children were separated and many elderly parents die of heart break caused by this. Every sibling within one family unit that I know of have accepted the relocation benefits, the matriarch became sick and she died, her brother tried to resist but he also died of heart break, and now, only the elder patriarch remains. He is so alone. I have never seen such a lonely person. He is surrounded by several houses and hogans but there is no one else to be expected, to come out of any of those dwellings. This elder man only has his late wife and brother in-law’s sheep and horses to look after. Why did his children decided to leave the land? This is hard for me to comprehend.

“My children have never accepted the relocation benefits. None of them accepted that and I consider them all to still be residents, here, though their attempts to build homes were stopped by the B.I.A. Police. So, how can children just leave their land and parents behind?


“Our history told us about the ‘Long Walk’ when the U.S. Army forced thousands of our peoples to march to Ft. Sumner. Many had their heads bashed-in and died on the way to the four year internment camp. So, I would understand about being forced-relocated if we were to have received the same kind of brutality. But we did not.

"What is left of our past resistance at Big Mountain is nothing but a ‘war of words on paper.’ Papers are served to our front doors and most of our Dineh take that as a threat and run. The whiteman’s paper is considered more sacred. These papers supposedly interpret the American laws. Our ancient sacred ways are no longer held with high reverence and the modern Dineh can violate those ancient ways as they wish. The Dineh have all truly become greedy and selfish and to only seek hand outs.

“Even the idea of love and freedom is used by the Americans as ‘sugar-coated’ mentality and behavioral acceptability. Love is many things but to us at Big Mountain, love was what we bestowed for our country, the land. Freedom was that same thing. We resisted and fought, physically and with papers. A couple of our local Dineh have volunteered nearly their whole life to maintain this love and freedom for us, those of us who are now very old and some who are alone. Love and freedom is the willingness to visit the elders, to learn more about our sacred places, to visit those sacred places, to communicate with non-Indians and other tribal communities that believe in harmony and sustainability, and to teach the youth about who they are and where they really belong.

“It is time, while in our last desperate attempt to save our identity, to do the Beauty Way Ceremonies. Yes, we can call it ‘a fight’ but it is that (real) love and freedom that involves helping people to withhold the sacred and support their existence on their ancestral lands despite the threats and harassment. The indigenous peoples must resort to these rituals ways immediately instead of wasting energy on designing more words on paper to send to the oppressors.”

* * *Elders and their extended families at Big Mountain traditional communities still need your support and prayers. The crop fields need tending to, the wooly sheep and goats need to be herded, and if you cannot get away, contact your local indigenous support groups and see how you can help in the coming fall or winter.

[**Learn more and contact: Black Mesa Indigenous Support at http://www.blackmesais.org/ or call BMIS Voice Mail: 928-773-8086. The BMIS Fall 2009 Caravan is tentatively being planned and continued, long-term (2 wks to two months + ) on-land stays are needed.]

Free Leonard Peltier and Free All Political Prisoners!

And remember nature always beats you and if you endure that, lessons of many blessings will come. (The foregoing statement was translated by Yours Truly, Chief Loner.) –sdnRocks, 2009