Support the Struggle for Survival at Black Mesa
Traditional Knowledge Story 56

Support the Struggle for Survival at Black Mesa

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John Ahni Schertow
April 4, 2008
 

Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) sends an update on the struggle of the Traditional Dineh residents of Black Mesa, reminding us that the US still intends to relocate the Dineh and destroy their homelands.

For more information and to learn how to help, please visit www.blackmesais.org, and www.blackmesawatercoalition.org

FIRST NATIONS, FIRST RESISTANCE—
SUPPORT THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL AT BIG MOUNTAIN, BLACK MESA, AZ.

On behalf of their peoples, their ancestral lands, and future generations, more than 350 Dineh residents of Black Mesa continue their staunch resistance to the efforts of the US Government– acting in the interests of the Peabody Coal Company—to relocate the Dineh and destroy their homelands. This land is the basis for the Black Mesa peoples’ traditions, livelihoods, and spirituality.

At this moment the decision makers in Washington D.C. are planning ways to seize tribal lands to extract mineral resources. The coal companies are funding both the Republican and Democratic parties because they have huge interests at stake. Presidential candidate John McCain recently sponsored forced-relocation legislation targeting these Dineh families; Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, currently has plans to expand its strip mine operations and to seize more deep aquifers beneath these indigenous lands. Peabody Coal Company has completely dug up burials, sacred sites, and shrines designated specifically for offerings, preventing religious practices. Not only were the principal concerns of the communities directly affected by the legislation never addressed, those communities were not even notified.

“The Big Mountain matriarchal leaders always believed that resisting forced relocation will eventually benefit all ecological systems, including the human race.” Bahe Keediniihii, Dineh organizer and translator states. “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.”

LIFE FOR RESIDENTS OF THE BIG MOUNTAIN REGION IN 2008:

Institutional racism fueled neglect and abandonment of public needs such as water, maintenance of roads, health care, and schools. Daily life for Big Mountain residents hasn’t changed too much over the years, except that more of them have become elderly and now need additional help. Due to lack of local job opportunities and federal strangulation on Indian self-sufficiency, extended families are forced to live many miles away to earn incomes and have all the social amenities which include choices in mandatory, American education. It is increasingly difficult for families to come back to visit their relatives in these remote areas due to the unmaintained roads and the rising cost of transportation.

ANNUAL SPRING PLANTING PROJECTS NEED EXTRA SUPPORT THIS YEAR

The consistent rain and snow this past winter have been hard on many of the families living on Black Mesa, especially the elders. Because of the roads being impassable for such a long time, supply and medical trips were limited, as well as visits from extended families. (Black Mesa is a remote area in the high desert, rich with canyon lands and soft dirt that turns to clay when it gets wet.) But the desert thrives on water; there are many healthy new lambs and baby goats, as the life and land continue to cycle and regenerate. The families are thankful and excited about spring planting and there is much work to be done!

This spring, many fields left fallow will be planted. April is the time for preparing them for planting. This involves fixing fences, clearing out brush, and fixing water damage. May is the season for shearing the sheep and planting the fields with corn, squash, melons, etc.

BRING YOUR TOOLS:

Hand shears for sheering sheep, steel files, shovels, picks, axes, mattocks, posthole diggers, a roll of barbed wire, fence posts, leather gloves, heavy duty hoes, fencing pliers, and some single-axe & shovel handles.

BMIS WILL HELP YOU COME TO BLACK MESA PREPARED!

You are invited to come to Black Mesa any time of the year, not just spring and fall. You can come alone or as a pair for a longer duration, or as an organized work crew for a shorter time. Since establishing a routine is demanding on the host family, folks are encouraged to stay a minimum of three weeks. If you are not able to make this time commitment, check in with BMIS about organizing a work crew to stay a minimum of several days to a week. Guests are expected to be adequately prepared prior to staying with families on Black Mesa, which is a very remote area in a high desert terrain.

Thoroughly read the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Booklet and fill out the supporter application form. ( http://www.blackmesais.org/cultural_sen.html ) Email or snail-mail it to us. Contact BMIS as far in advance as possible so that we can support you in your visit to Black Mesa, answer any questions that you may have, and so that we can make arrangements with your host family. We can also be reached by our voicemail, 928-773-8086.

FALL ‘08 CARAVAN TO BLACK MESA IS IN THE WORKS!

Thank you. May the resistance of Big Mountain and surrounding communities on Black Mesa always be remembered and supported!

Black Mesa Indigenous Support
P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Voice Mail: 928.773.8086
blackmesais@riseup.net
http://www.blackmesais.org

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