Call for support on Black Mesa, Arizona
Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS),
We have several calls for support that we want to relay on behalf of The People on 'The
Land' (Black Mesa). You may have heard that the decades-long 'Land Dispute' has been
Indeed, there have been messages coming from the political establishment that are quite a bit
different from the daily life of the People on The Land but this is nothing new. The Dine’
(Navajo) families that we work with are still struggling under Federally backed Hopi/Bureau
of Indian Affairs jurisdiction.
Native peoples in the Black Mesa area have been living under relocation laws that
have devastated their community for over 30 years. Dine’ homesites and camps are
subjected to a “Property Dismantaling and Disposal Project,” where families’ property and
physical history are hauled away to “return the land to its original condition, protect
natural resources, environment, and interests of the Hopi Tribe and the Hopi People" (Office
of Hopi Lands website). These “interests” include the expansion of Peabody Western Coal
company's 100+ sq. mile strip mine.
Dine' communities have refused and resisted repeated orders from the federal government to
vacate their ancestral homelands of Black Mesa. Elder resisters have been acknowledeged as
heroic and their efforts have generated worldwide support. But the Dine struggle for autonomy
on Black Mesa is not over. Even with all the increasing awareness about man-made climate
change and advocacy for environmentally friendly living that 'leaders' such as Al Gore are
raising globally, coal-mining continues to threaten the people, their ancestral homeland, and
culture. Al Gore has urged fans at the recent Life Earth concerts held around the world to
commit to a seven-point pledge to cut carbon emissions and to lobby governments and employers
to do more to “save the planet”. This pledge states: "To fight for a moratorium on the
construction of any new Generating facility that burns coal Without the capacity to safely
trap and store the CO2. These companies have waged a campaign to green-wash their image by
now using a "Clean Coal Technology".
We know from the traditional inhabitants on The Land and from scientific fact that there is
nothing clean about coal. Regardless of the burning process, coal extraction is devastating
to the environment and to communities. As long as coal mining for massive energy consumption
in the US (on Black Mesa there are many communities threatened by coal mining) is sanctioned,
the threat to Dine people and their lands remains. It is a threat based on economics, it is
based on the racist presumption that only white people deserve a clean and healthy
environment and it is based on the colonialist arrogance that wishes to forget the critical
line between indigenous and the recently arrived, even in the name of democracy and the
Our interest as support has been to make connections with these families trying to hold on
to the land they live on. It is their ancestral homeland and they are the ones who hold the
stories of that land, knowledge about the sacred sites, and the right way to live on that
land. As it goes, everything shifts to property lines and economic use-value.
So we support the original inhabitants of these areas on an individual basis and in
their community-oriented organizing; wool buys, work parties, gatherings, ceremonies, etc.
Traditional Elder Ida Mae Clinton, the Greyeyes family and many others requests sheepherders
for the months of August and Sept.; Jenny Paddock’s family is looking for a work crew to
help with a Hogan; and Louise Benally is looking for help organizing a wool buy.
We invite all of you reading this to consider again at this time who you are and how you are
connected to and responsible to Black Mesa and the people who have lived there since time
immemorial. If you’ve been there before, you can come back with the skills you have learned.
Maybe you got pretty good with an axe, or you know how and when to put mud on the hogan.
Consider too, what an opportunity and an honor it is to walk among the resisters at Black
Mesa, the keepers of the old ways. What that connection could bring to your community,
whether it is a community of resistance now or whether it is one waiting to be--we are all
threatened by the madness going on today. You are probably already “plugged in” to Black
Mesa by the computer you are using because it is likely to run on electricity provided in
part by coal mined from the mesa.
YOU, YES YOU!:
Maybe its time to unplug that one and plug your good energy in—your handshake, your Good
ideas, your bio-diesel pickup truck, the sweat off your brow, your level-headedness, your
listening ear. Whatever it is, give it a consideration. BMIS would like to hear from
you and we’d like to connect you with one of these families and let you all go from there.
Please check our website for details. If it is your first time coming to Black Mesa
Then please read the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Booklet at
HELP US EXPAND OUR OUTREACH:
For over ten years BMIS volunteers have been working to support the resistance at Black Mesa.
To honor our commitment to the elders and their legacy of resistance, we are asking for help
to spread our message beyond our list-serve that we have established over the years. Please
give a minute or two to think of some person or organization that you know of to connect us
up with: media outlets, university clubs, punk-rock coffeehouses, infoshops, bowling leagues,
whomever you can think of. Lets get creative!
"I realize your job is to call for People With Hearts for Black Mesa, Star Mountain, and the
rest of Big Mountain, and we are thankful for everyone's tireless effort. Just as it is the
same for the elders of Big Mountain, my mother's is a keeper of her legacy. We are in to
defend their traditional duty. We will never ever fully understand their ultimate
committment to protect their medicine bundles, prayers, sacred places, natural springs,
plants, air, and all life, and we can be there when they need us. Our elders will never leave
their homes, land, animals and their entire belief systems, and because of their stance, we
must stand guard. Our years of struggle will never cease because of our elders. We are
obligated to cherish them."
-Verna Clinton- Star Mountain
Ahehee* for taking the time to read this, (*Thank you, in Dine')
Black Mesa Indigenous Support