Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Black Mesa, NE Arizona, from space, June 2011

The expanding coal mines operated by Peabody Energy can be seen from space
By Bahe Y. Katenay, SheepDogNation Media

Big Mountain Dineh bi' Keyah, Black Mesa - June 2011 It all began in 1906 when U.S. Geological Survey reported coal seams within these 125 to 30 million year old sandstone and clay formations of Black Mesa. Black Mesa coal field as it became known as covers about 60 miles by 80 miles and is ancestral homelands to both the Dineh (Navajos) and Hopis.

Like it was a "gold" discovery, utility companies in the 1950s began their desperate effort to stake out claims once they realized cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles will eventually grow tremendously. These prospectors ran into a brick wall which was that, this "largest chuck of coal" was all Indian reservation, and only some slick, top-notch corporate lawyers might be able to establish "legal" access. The other roadblock for the prospectors was that the Hopis did not have a "U.S. Federally-recognized" tribal authority. The Hopis were still a sovereign nation in that they still had Village Chief authority nor did they ever signed a treaty with the U.S. of A.

Sleazy attorneys also specialized in corporate law converged on this isolated, forgotten world of the Navajos and the Hopis. It took a Salt Lake City attorney, John S. Boyden, to utilize the Indian Land Claims Commission's proceedings to coerced a small group of Hopis to call themselves The Hopi Tribal Council. The traditional Village Chiefs protested these colonial underminings. By 1962, the Hopi council was legal and immediately Peabody Coal Company was awarded the nearly 70,000 acres to start mining.

Today, those scarred lands have been "reclaimed" by the coal company with alien scrubs and grass. Thousand of acres of ancient juniper and pinon pine forests will probably never come back due to today's climate changed weather. But Peabody still want their new leases approved so that they can expand into the Dineh's sacred regions of Big Mountain. In 1974, the U.S. Congress also "settled" the rest of this real estate distribution by passing legislation to displace and relocate nearly 22,000 Dineh and about 600 Hopis. Peabody in 1964 stated, "this mining of Black Mesa will go beyond 100 years and this mining operations will facilitate the removal of the local human population."

Futhermore, this very complex Executive mandate and its false interpretations of reasoning have severely impacted this particular human culture and their environment which they interacted with sustainably. The Dineh especially those that associated their home areas and cultural areas with the Big Mountain summits have withstood over 30 years of harassment, threats, arrests, and trial by court, but unfortunately their human rights are continued to be violated. American popular media also are an accessory to these injustices by reiterating that 'false reasonings' and headlining it as the "Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute" to contradict the obvious corporate mineral interests.

The future of a once pristine and unique traditions of the Dineh of Big Mountain is uncertain, the numbers of homesites have decreased, the ritual cultural world has been silenced, most younger generation lack any connections to their ancestry, and threat of fossil-fuel addicted America still looms over these Dineh traditionals. A handful of Non-Native supporters try to continue in providing physical and network support on behalf of elder resisters and their families. However, there is still a great chance for the hope of survival that can still be justified and be saved but it will take much greater awareness and acceptance to maintaining sacred sites by helping to create them as living (sacred) communities.

Truth can no longer be feared but instead each individuals must promote and advocate for awareness about truth in order to secure the futures politically, economically and socially. There is also a lot that can be learnt from Dineh way of life at Big Mountain even though it may not be considerated as great influencial statespersons or political figures, but in actuality the Elder resisters are just that.

Here is an extra resource about networking:

SDNrocks, 2011

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