Tuesday, March 3, 2009
The forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi people that followed from the passage in 1974 of Public Law 93-531
Sovereign Dineh Nation New York Support Group
Contact: Marsha Monestersky
244 Fifth Avenue, Box 2767
New York, NY 10001
Tel: (1-718) 349-1841; Fax: (1-718) 349-1841
I found this on a summary of the findings of the UN that was investigating the crimes against the peoples and the violation's of the Peabody Coal company upon the earth. http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/mgroups/wedo.htm#dineh
As of the writing of this post; The Peabody Coal company wants to expand into the sacred lands to go for more coal, seems they are running out in the sites they are strip mining. 3/3/2009
Dineh People in Arizona Undermined by Coal Mining Interests
Black Mesa is located in northeastern Arizona and includes the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Reservations. The region spans 3,000 sq miles and has a population of 3,000 indigenous people.
CASE STUDY PREPARED BY: The goal of the Sovereign Dineh Nation (SDN) is to ensure that the traditional Dineh are honored, respected and protected, and that they are able to remain on their land and continue their traditional way of life. SDN was founded ten years ago by a Council of Elders, with Roberta Blackgoat, an elder matriarch, the spiritual leader and chairperson of the organization. A SDN New York Support Group was created to interface and advocate for them with various agencies and NGOs. This group identifies institutional frameworks that can be used to combat industrial practices that constitute violations of the Surface Mining Coal Reclamation Act (SMCRA). It helps to facilitate the filing of formal complaints to the UN Commission on Human Rights and other UN forums
The Black Mesa region in Arizona, USA is home to the indigenous communities of the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi peoples. This region also contains major deposits of coal which are being extracted by North America's largest strip mining operation. The coal mines have had a major impact on families in the region. Local water sources have been poisoned, resulting in the death of livestock. Homes near the mines suffer from blasting damage. The coal dust is pervasive, as well as smoke from frequent fires in the stockpiles. Not coincidentally, the people in the area have an unusually high incidence of kidney and respiratory disease.
The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death.
Cause of the Environmental Crisis
In the 1930's, the U.S. government tried to replace the traditional governing mechanisms on the reservations with Western-style governments, but these institutions quickly collapsed from lack of support by the inhabitants. In the 1950s, vast coal deposits were discovered in Black Mesa.
Here's where John McCain comes into the picture
Because no government existed with the power to issue leases to the mining companies, white attorneys with strong ties to the mining industry used legal provisions dating back to the 1930's to create new tribal governments. The people on the Hopi reservation did not recognize the validity of the government or of the coal leases, and filed a suit in the U.S. courts to overthrow the leases, on the grounds that coal mining violated the Hopi religion. U.S. courts dismissed the suit, stating that the industry-created tribal council was a sovereign power, and the Hopi people could not use the U.S. courts to appeal its actions.
In 1974, the mining industry played a major role in passage of the Navajo-Hopi Settlement Act of 1974. McCain got paid to legislate for this by the Peabody Coal Company, the largest mining company in the US. He also holds stock in the venture in his wife's name it has been told around Arizona. Cindy also has a solo contract in the beer distribution in the area she aquired from this bill.
This crucial piece of legislation resulted in the largest relocation of Native American people since the 1860's. The relocation effort has been a disaster. More than 12,000 people have been relocated over the past 22 years. Some were sent to cities where, unable to speak English or relate to a non-traditional economy, they quickly lost the small sums of money they were given at the time of the relocation. The rest were sent to the "New Lands", an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site contaminated by the nation's worst nuclear spill. But many families resisted orders to relocate, and 23 years later, several thousand still remain on their traditional homesites. This relocation has cost the U.S. taxpayers over $350 million.
The people affected by the legislation were never directly informed of its adoption, never allowed to testify in any Congressional hearing and never allowed to be represented in any way through the process. All the decisions that led to partition of their land were carried out and enacted by newly created male-dominated tribal councils located 100 miles away from the directly affected people.
With assistance from the U.S. government, the mining industry has supported a new faction on the reservations consisting of businessmen who profit from mining, large-scale cattle ranching, and other non-traditional economic activities. This faction controls the tribal governments and rejects traditional religious views about the sacredness of the land.
It views the traditional Dineh living on the land as obstacles to the success of its business ventures. This faction is considered to be the sole legitimate voice of all the people and has been granted sovereign powers which deprive the people of fundamental civil rights.
Impact Of the Environmental Crisis
The mines threaten the sole source of water for the communities in the region. Ancient natural springs, washes and wells in the region are contaminated and have run dry, others have only a few years left. Mine soils, spoil and coal stockpiles are affecting surface water used for human consumption, as well as worsening potential plant and soil toxicity due to fugitive dust and airborne particulate from the stockpiles. The coal from the Black Mesa mine is transported to the Mojave Power plant through a slurry line that requires pumping 3 million gallons of water each day from the Navajo aquifer. The slurry line operates without any permit from the EPA. In a region where water is extremely scarce, the use of such a precious resource just to transport coal is a tragic waste.
Coal strip mining and the burning of fossil fuels is one of the most unsustainable ways of land and resource management. The operations of Peabody Coal have destroyed countless sites that are sacred to the Dineh. Stripping the land years in advance of the planned mining operations has degraded the biota and caused displacement of the Dineh people, causing disruptions to their family life and health. Local residents living in the mining permit area have been told that they and the livestock upon which they are dependent for their survival can no longer drink from traditional water sources. Environmental degradation continues as multi-colored toxics seep onto their land. Some herbs used in traditional medicine were only available at places that have been destroyed by mining, rendering the herbs now unavailable. Since traditional medicine is closely interlinked with religion, this interferes with religious practice. Contaminated surface water discharge and elevated levels of selenium is causing livestock poisoning in the adjacent leaseholds. This has also threatened the livestock used for human consumption.
Unlined coal stockpiles and fugitive dust blown from mining and reclamation activities have increased the incidence of respiratory illnesses. Coal-fired power plants in the region generate over 10% of the nation's electricity, and are the largest point-source of greenhouse gasses in a country that leads the world in their production. The plants (exempt from all environmental laws by grandfather clauses dating back to the 1960s) operate without scrubbers or other emission controls and emit 350 tons of sulfur compounds and 250 tons of nitrogen compounds into the atmosphere each day. The incredible volume of these pollutants reduces visibility in an area of thousands of square miles, including a 50% reduction of visibility in the Grand Canyon in the last 15 years, and causes desertification, and acidification of rain and surface water in the region. The Mohave Generating Station burning Peabody Coal Company's Black Mesa coal stands out as one of the worst offenders because of its large scale, lack of pollution controls, and excessive emissions due to burning of moistured coal.
The current laws deny the Dineh families who remain on their land a fundamental constitutional right enjoyed by other citizens of the U.S. They are not allowed to vote or in any way to participate in the government which controls their lives. They are not allowed to participate in the legal system other than as defendants. They have no right to appeal any police or government action. Mining company security personnel, harass and intimidate elders, threatening them with imprisonment if they try to protect their homes, property and burial sites from Peabody Coal's bulldozers. They can be arbitrarily thrown in jail for resisting actions by the mining company. People and their livestock are given trespass notices. Ceremonial hogans, houses, sacred sites and graveyards are bulldozed. Armed rangers visit elders at their homes and threaten and harass them and confiscate their livestock at the government's discretion. They are denied access to water, their water wells are fenced, capped off and dismantled.
The struggle in Black Mesa is between two divergent viewpoints on the relationship between humans and their environment. One group, led by male-dominated mining corporations and tribal councils, views land as property that title-holders should exploit for the maximum profits regardless of the impact on the land or on people who currently inhabit the land. The other group, whose leaders are grandmothers in the matriarchal traditional Dineh culture, believe that the land is sacred and should not be violated by a strip mine. They believe that they must remain upon their lands, where their families have lived for countless generations and protect it from destruction.
The Dineh grandmothers represent a different set of values. The earth is a mother who gives life and must be respected and protected in turn. And while they want to be able to continue their traditional way of life they are also open to exploring other sustainable technologies, such as solar energy or alternative organic agricultural methods.
The grandmothers and other indigenous people in the area need a mechanism to participate in the policies affecting their community that is independent of the completely male-dominated, industry-established tribal governments. The coal strip mines do not represent a permanent solution to the economic problems of the Dineh and Hopi tribes. The coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners region are the largest single point source of greenhouse gases in North America. The enterprise for which the fundamental human rights of the Dineh families are being sacrificed is but a doomed scheme to make quick money.
The UN Conference on Environment and Development recognized in Agenda 21 that "women have an essential role to play in the development of sustainable and ecologically sound consumption and production patterns and approaches to natural resource management." It is essential to recognize the value of the Dineh grandmothers and the sacrifices that they have made to protect their land from destruction.
Women in Dineh society play the pivotal role, culturally and religiously. It is women's primal role as protectors of the land that is traditionally responsible for their religion, government and economy. Women were mainly responsible for income produced through sheep herding and weaving. In contrast, the impact of mining has created a transition to a male-dominated set of institutions in society. Jobs that have arisen from the mining industry all go to men. The traditional self-sufficient economy has been undermined by coal mining jobs that have created a new society run by men. Royalties generated from coal mining go to male-controlled tribal councils, both Hopi and Dineh, and women have never been chiefs of either executive institution. Women who have historically been protectors of the earth now face male-dominated institutions that view the earth as a resource.
If someone or some company came onto your land and did the crimes that have been done to these gentle people who were happy to be left alone to live their lives the way they had for generations. You would be pulling out the guns and war would insue!
Did you know anywhere downwind from the mines is effected by the pollution, including the ground water, they have polluted the water table with the dirty waste. Go have a good hot cup of coffee tainted with mercury, oh yum! John McCain and his buddies from the Peabody coal company slid a fast one on a race of people who couldn't legally fight back because of the way the courts left the decision, sending 12,000 people; some to their deaths. The place's they sent them filled them with lung disease's, kidney disease's, Cancer, birth defects in large number's, suicide's, hopeless home situation's too hard to bear! This Tribial Council of men who signed the papers lived 100 miles away. And if they had known what this group of criminals were up to, this would never have happened!
These people have no representation in the US courts, cannot even vote! And people put them down because they sell cigarettes!
I think that John McCain should right his wrong by going before the courts and fight to retract the decision for these people's that his greed took away He's gotten the government and the media to hush hush up the controversy surrounding the Keaton 5. And he also has the Navajo/Peabody issue hidden.
What a bastard! I have really been investigating McCain and he is a terrible excuse for a human being! He is not native to Arizona, he came here because he seen an opportunity to get elected OH! That's right, you won't do it because if the bill pass's for nuclear power, you already have plans to put 3, that's three nuclear plant's out there on the Rez. HUH!? What a greedy Jackass!