Friends of Black Mesa,
The meeting yesterday was extremely powerful, including a big rally and protest outside, hundreds of calls into OSM’s office, and a banner hang. Black Mesa Water Coalition also generated good media, including page 2 of the Denver Post this morning, two pieces in Grist, Gallup Independent, SF Chronicle, Forbes and AZ Daily Sun and others from an AP Story, Solve Climate, Indian Country Today, the Navajo Times, mentions in a Politico and Huffpost piece and a bunch of radio interviews.
But it still looks likely that OSM will grant Peabody a life-of-mine permit, expand their mining area, and give them renewed access to Navajo Aquifer water…If any of you have ideas about how to suspend or block the permit, please let us know. We’re running out of time…
For three hours the Navajo and Hopi representatives met with OSM officials and presented documents and petitions ratified by their communities that urge OSM to suspend their decision. Their unified statement read, “Although we represent two different tribes, we come today united to protect our shared land and water. Water is the life source to both our peoples, and Peabody has failed to understand this connection. If the Office of Surface Mining grants a permit to Peabody, our way of life and spiritual balance will be severely disrupted and altered. Currently, we are already suffering the damage this industry has caused over the past 30 years.
While most of the delegation was inside meeting with OSM officials, 60 local supporters accompanied the rest of the Navajo and Hopi delegation outside to rally, protest, and show support, including dropping a banner from a nearby parking garage that read, “Navajo & Hopi Say NO COAL MINING!” Support was not only outside of the building. OSM’s telephone and fax lines were bombarded with calls of support and written requests to postpone the ROD from across the country.
“Hopis believe that this time of year is a very sacred and sensitive time that prevents us from stepping outside our home area, because it’s the time of renewal for all life. We are taught not to be disruptive and confrontational during this time. It is such a big sacrifice for us to be here in Denver, but OSM continues to release critical decisions during this time; so many of our people have not been able to to voice their grave concerns about this Black Mesa Project. We feel an obligation to our families, clans, and future, so we have come here despite our cultural restrictions.” says Racheal Povatah, a Hopi tribal member.
Black Mesa Navajo and Hopi residents are concerned about how this project will impact the future of their homelands given the history of Peabody’s unwise use of the Navajo Aquifer. “For decades coal and water from our lands have been taken to power Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Yet, we have have suffered the loss of our sole source drinking water to accommodate the over consumption of these areas,” says Wahleah Johns, Co-Director of Black Mesa Water Coalition.
For more information, contact:
Wahleah Johns: 928 637 5281, or Chelsea Chee: 928 637 5592