The Struggle For Survival Continues – A Snapshot of Life For Residents of the Big Mountain Regions of Black Mesa, 2008
Published on Black Mesa Indigenous Support, by BMP DEIS / Black Mesa Water Coalition, October 28, 2008.
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 expand their occupation of tribal lands to extract mineral & other resources. The coal companies have a long history of and continue to fund 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 massively expand its dirty strip-mining operations on these indigenous homelands. Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, has has destroyed land and water aquifers, completely dug up burials, sacred areas, and shrines designated specifically for offerings, preventing religious practices. As plans concerning laws and mining operations are underway by Peabody, Office of Surface Mining, and McCain, not only were the principal concerns of the communities directly affected by the legislation never addressed, those communities were not even notified.
Indigenous nations are disproportionately targeted by fossil fuel extraction & environmental devastation and Black Mesa is no exception. Peabody Coal Co. is currently pushing through plans to massively expand dirty coal strip-mining operations on tribal lands. In 30 years of controversial operation, Peabody’s Black Mesa Mine has been the source of an estimated 325 million tons of CO2 that have been discharged into the atmosphere.* If expansion plans are permitted, it would exacerbate already devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly add fuel to the fire of the current climate chaos we face globally. Coal from the Black Mesa mine could contribute an additional 290 million tons of CO2 to the global warming crisis!*
“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.”
Daily life for Big Mountain residents hasn’t changed too much over the years, except that more of them have become elderly and now struggle with daily chores. Institutional racism has fueled neglect and abandonment of public needs such as water, maintenance of roads, health care, and schools. 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 … (full text).
(Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is a grassroots, all volunteer run collective dedicated to working with and supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa in their Struggle for Life and Land who are targeted by & resisting unjust large-scale coal mining operations and forced relocation policies of the US government).