By Brenda Norrell
BLACK MESA, Arizona -- After Arlene Hamilton purchased stocks in Lehman Brothers, so the Navajo, Hopi and Lakota delegation could address stockholders in 2001, Arlene called me. Arlene said she had been threatened and believed she would be killed. She also said authorities had rifled through her papers at her Navajo weaving project office in Flagstaff, Ariz. Shortly afterwards, Arlene was killed in a car wreck near Kayenta, Arizona. Roberta Blackgoat, longtime Navajo resister of relocation, died at Arlene's memorial in San Francisco.
That same year, 2001, Cate Gilles, longtime news reporter on Black Mesa, who covered other Indigenous issues, was found hanged in Tucson. We were all friends with the Navajo environmentalist Leroy Jackson, cofounder of the Dine Citizens Against Ruining our Environment. Leroy was found dead in 1993, after his life was threatened for protecting the grandmother pines from logging.
Since that time, the Navajo Nation Council and Navajo President Joe Shirley, Jr., have continued to press for mining leases, including the controversial Desert Rock power plant. The energy leases and revenues largely pay the salaries and travel expenses of the 88 council delegates and tribal president, while a large number of Navajos, including elderly, live without running water and electricity.
While many Navajos live with the pollution of the power plants in and around Navajoland on Black Mesa, Page and in the Four Corners region, they haul water and their children and grandchildren read by lantern light, when they can afford to buy it.
This is one of the most censored stories. The US government formed the Navajo and Hopi tribal councils to approve energy leases. Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute. As a result more than 12,000 Navajos were relocated to make way for Peabody's coal mining. There were decades of suffering, with Navajo elderly sick without medicines on Black Mesa. Some Navajos died from broken hearts when they relocated.
It is with gratitude that I publish this and recognize my Navajo and Hopi friends who patiently educated me about these facts over the past 29 years. For me, it began with a comment from my friend Louise at Big Mountain, talking about Peabody Coal. "The corporations lie you know."
Perhaps we will never know exactly what led to the deaths of all these heroes, our friends, but there is always justice in time.
Previous article: Navajo, Hopi and Lakota warned Lehman Brothers
A delegation warned Lehman Brothers of the spiritual consequences of mining coal on sacred Black Mesa, after Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc., acquired the financial interests of Peabody Coal: