Arizona Focus: Support the Communities On The Front Lines at Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ.
Caravan Of Support To Big Mountain, Black Mesa, AZ.
November 21-28, 2009
Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support,
We are excited to inform you that a caravan of work crews will once again be converging from across the country in support of residents of the Big Mountain regions of Black Mesa. On behalf of their peoples, their sacred ancestral lands and future generations, these communities continue to carry out a staunch resistance to the efforts of the US Government, which is acting in the interests of the Peabody Coal Company, to devastate whole communities and ecosystems and greatly de-stabilize our planet’s climate for the profit of an elite few.
By assisting with direct, on-land projects you are helping families stay on their ancestral homelands in resistance to an illegal occupation. These courageous communities serve as the very blockade to coal mining! More than 14,000 Dine’ people have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands due to spin created by the U.S government & Peabody Coal, under the guise of the so-called “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.” Families are now in their THIRD DECADE resisting this travesty and, as you can imagine, many residents are very elderly and winters can be rough. With their guidance, the aim of this caravan is to honor the elders and to generate support in the form of direct, on-land support: chopping and hauling firewood, doing minor repair work, offering holistic health care, and sheep-herding before the approaching cold winter months arrive.
“The Big Mountain matriarchal leaders always believed that resisting forced relocation will eventually benefit all ecological systems, including the human race,” says Bahe Keediniihii, Dineh organizer and translator. “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.”
Peabody Coal’s Disastrous Coal Mining Operations on Black Mesa: At this moment, decision makers in Washington D.C. are planning ways to continue their occupation of tribal lands under the guise of extracting “clean coal,” which does not exist. In 30 years of disastrous operation, Dine’ and Hopi communities in Arizona have been ravaged by Peabody’s coal mining, which has taken land from and forcibly relocated thousands of families, has drained 2.5 million gallons of water daily from the only community water supply, and has left a toxic legacy along an abandoned 273-mile coal slurry pipeline. Peabody’s Black Mesa mine has been the source of an estimated 325 million tons of CO2 that have been discharged into the atmosphere. Coal from the Black Mesa Mine could contribute an additional 290 million tons of CO2 to the global warming crisis!* Ignoring protests from Dineh and Hopi communities and their allies, the U.S. Government (Office of Surface Mining) has permitted Peabody Energy to extend it’s massive strip-mining operations until 2026 or until the coal is gone. Peabody Coal Co. plans to seize another 19,000 acres of sacred land beyond the 67,000 acres already in Peabody’s grasp at Black Mesa. Peabody Energy, previously Peabody Coal Company, is the world’s largest private-sector coal company, operating mines throughout North America, South America, and Australia and is the twelfth largest coal exporter. In addition Peabody is proposing new coal-fired power plants in several states. Peabody’s coal mining will exacerbate already devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly add fuel to the fire of the current global climate chaos!
We are at a critical juncture and must take a stand in support of communities on the front lines of resistance now! Indigenous and land-based peoples have maintained the understanding that our collective survival is deeply dependent on our relationship to Mother Earth. Victory in protecting and reclaiming the Earth will require a broad movement that can help bridge cultures, issues and nations.
BMIS wishes for this caravan to be an important opportunity for people of all backgrounds to listen and work with the families of Black Mesa to generate more awareness that relocation laws & coal mining need to be stopped, that these communities deserve to be free on their ancestral homelands, and to come together to strengthen our solidarity and find ways to work together to protect Black Mesa & our Mother Earth for all life.
Ways you can support:
* Join the Caravan & Be Self-Sufficient! By joining one of the volunteer work crews, you are expected to be adequately prepared and self-sufficient prior to your visit on Black Mesa, which is a very remote area in a high desert terrain. There is no electricity, no central heating, and no running water. You must come prepared, and bring everything you will need. There could be extreme weather, and it will be cold especially at night! Each participant will need to bring food, water, outdoor camping gear (although we will likely be staying inside with families), very warm clothing, and appropriate attire for hands-on manual work. Coming equipped with chainsaws, trucks, shovels, axes & mauls dramatically increases your effectiveness as a work crew!
* Read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide: All direct, on-land supporters of Black Mesa are required to thoroughly read over and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide. This document is an in-depth guide that contains important information that you will need prior to and during your visit with a host family on Black Mesa. This guide gives you crucial information about what to expect, what to bring, how to be adequately prepared, background and current his/herstory, safety and legal issues, cultural sensitivity, code of conduct, and a suggested list of what to bring with you. We want to ensure that each person is informed about the agreements & basic requests by these communities, that each person is safe and accounted for, and that we have your contact and emergency contact info should an emergency arise. It is of the utmost importance that each caravan participant understand and respect the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Please print out, sign, & bring this guidebook with you during your visit to Black Mesa. [Editor's note: I remember we paid close attention to this kind of sensitivity and it paid off well. Respect people's customs and they far more readily accept you and party with you.]
* Pre-register: To help us estimate how many people to expect as well as to help us make necessary accommodations for all.
* Host or attend regional organizational meetings in your area: We strongly urge participants to attend or organize regional meetings. Caravan coordinators are located in Prescott, Phoenix, Flagstaff, Colorado, Ithaca, NY, and the San Francisco’s Bay Area. The meeting locations and dates will be posted at the BMIS website as coordinators set them up. If you are interested in helping coordinate, contact BMIS. This caravan will be collaborating with the annual Clan Dyken Fall Food & Supply Run on Black Mesa.
* Raise Awareness about Black Mesa and the caravan. You can obtain literature from BMIS.
* Organize fundraisers: At the weeks prior to every caravan, grassroots supporters from all over throw benefits to raise the much-needed funds, for such things as supplies, wood, and direct, on-land people-support. Please contact BMIS for guidelines prior to any fund-raising in the name of Big Mountain and Black Mesa.
* Collect supplies: Chainsaws, axes, mauls, axe & maul handles, chainsaw files, tools of all kinds, organic food, warm blankets, and especially trucks (either to donate to families or to use for the week of the caravan) are greatly needed on the land to make this caravan work! Building materials, tools, & supplies are needed for projects. Check out our Projects Needs List!
We are not receiving nor relying on any institutional funding for these support efforts, but are instead counting on each person’s ingenuity, creativity, and hard work to make it all come together. We are hoping to raise enough money through our community connections for gas, specifically for collecting wood and food for host families, and for work projects.
* Stay with a family on Black Mesa: Families living in resistance to coal mining and relocation laws are requesting self-sufficient guests who are willing to give three or more weeks of their time, especially in the winter. Since it is crucial to have good help out there and not create more work for the families, all supporters are required to read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity Preparedness Guide. Contact BMIS in advance so that we can make arrangements prior to your stay, to answer any questions that you may have, and so we can help put you in touch with a family.
We can’t wait to see you in November!
For more info, contact:
Black Mesa Indigenous Support
P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Message Voice Mail: 928.773.8086