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,