Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights December 2019

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, July 27, 2007

New York Times reveals ignorance on Navajo environmentalists

By Brenda Norrell

The New York Times has revealed the newspaper's ignorance with the headline, "Navajos and environmentalists split on power plant."

The headline incorrectly indicates that Navajos and outsiders are split on the issue of the proposed Desert Rock power plant.

However, it is the Navajo people who have maintained the staunch resistance to the Desert Rock power plant; Navajos who actually live in the Four Corners area on tribal land. They are already breathing the toxins from two other power plants.

The Navajos who live on the land are fighting their own Navajo tribal government, Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., and the Navajo Nation Council, to halt the power plant.

The New York Times' misleading headline is a pattern for national newspapers. During the past decades, Indigenous living in Central and South America, struggling to survive as farmers on their land, were usually referred to as "insurgents," by major newspapers. Since editors usually write the headlines, it is sad to see the New York Times staff so ill-informed.

Major newspapers usually fail to report the fact that a large amount of the revenues from power plants and other destructive mining provide the salaries and travel expense accounts of the Navajo president and the Navajo Nation Council's 88 council delegates.

While Navajos in northwest New Mexico, Big Mountain and southeastern Utah, live with the cancer-producing toxins of coal mining, oil and gas wells and power plants, many Navajos still live without running water and electricity. While they suffer the degradation, non-Indians in the Southwest receive the electricity.

Since Navajos who live on the land lack the huge bank accounts to hire highly-paid spin doctors, the voice of the tribal government and corporations are what usually makes it to the national news. Of course, visiting reporters sweep through and unfortunately, their editors often sabotage their articles with misleading headlines.

The New York Times seems unaware that there are Navajo environmentalists in a modern-day movement. Among the Navajo environmentalists was Leroy Jackson, cofounder of Dine' Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, Dine' CARE, found dead in 1993 after protesting the tribe's clear cutting of the old growth yellow pines on Navajoland.

Photo: Navajos protest Desert Rock power plant at Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr.'s inauguration. Photo Dooda Desert Rock

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