Saturday, September 29, 2007

Empowered: Indigenous Peoples organize to halt mining in Americas

By Brenda Norrell


TUCSON, Ariz. -- Indigenous Peoples from throughout the Americas fighting mining gathered to organize and support one another to halt the mining destroying their communities and the environment.
The first in the series of articles focuses on the delegation from Peru, fighting copper mining and the poisoning of water sources.

Coal, gold, silver, copper and uranium mining in Indigenous territories has reached the level of a global crisis. Nikos Pastos of Alaska's Big Village Network said climate change and melting ice, combined with oil drilling, result in unprecedented dangers for polar bears, walruses and whales.

On the Navajo Nation and near its borders, proposals for new uranium mines, coal mining and the Desert Rock Power Plant pose threats to land and air already heavy with toxins. Manny Pino, Acoma Pueblo, said the sacred sites endangered by new proposed uranium mining include Mount Taylor in New Mexico, sacred to Pueblos, Navajos and other tribes in the region.

At the root of the problem, says Western Shoshone Carried Dann, are the IRA tribal governments who are acting in the best interest of energy companies, rather than the best interest of the people.
Louise Benally, Navajo from Big Mountains, Ariz., said the Earth is being "butchered" by mining and elected leaders at both the tribal and federal level are responsible and must be replaced.
In a story which repeats itself in every geographic region of the Americas, mining is rupturing communities and poisoning the environment, including the First Nations in Canada, Mayan in Guatemala and the Spokane Nation in Washington.

The series begins today.
Photos: Banquet at the Western Mining Action Network Conference in Tucson: Navajos Leona Morgan, Robert Tohe; Nikos Pastos and Manny Pino; Hunter Red Day and band. Photos Brenda Norrell

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