Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Monday, December 15, 2008

Vernon Masayesva: Black Mesa threatened at time of Hopi ceremonies

Black Mesa Trust
By Vernon Masayesva
Black Mesa Trust

KYKOTSMOVI, Ariz., -- Dec. 16 -- Today Hopi priests and elders are in their kivas praying that harmony and peace may come to all the world’s children.
December is the month of Soyalung on the Hopi mesas in northern Arizona; it is a time of reverence, prayer, quiet reflection. For all peoples, much depends on the Soyalung ceremonies being conducted properly. But this year the Hopi people are confronted with a serious and unnecessary challenge to their ancient religion and culture.
In Denver and Washington, and the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) is about to announce a decision that will impact their natural resources for many years to come.
On December 15, 2008, OSM is ready to issue a decision allowing the Black Mesa Project to go forward as requested by Peabody Western Coal Co, a subsidiary of Peabody Energy. The decision would commit Hopi natural resources for an additional 15 more years. It would continue to put a risk the N-aquifer that feeds Hopi and Navajo sacred springs and provides the sole source of potable groundwater for the peoples of Black Mesa.
It will put at risk the destruction of hundreds of archaeological sites, our ancestral villages, and human remains. I do not believe Secretary of Interior Kempthorne knows the implications of what OSM is doing regarding the federal government interference with an ancient religious ceremony.
During this month when both Hopis and Christians observe the renewal of spirit and harmony that comes with the renewal of light in late December, OSM is disturbing both religious calendars by promising to issue a very controversial Record of Decision in the middle of Soyalung, Juewish Chanukah festivities and just 10 days before Christmas.
Secretary Kempthorne should direct OSM to delay issuing the Record of Decision on the Environmental Impact Statement of the Black Mesa Project until the end of December for the sake ofall peoples, the beneficiaries of Hopi prayers and ceremonies.
The unprecedented number of Hopi and Tewa people have signed a petition urging OSM to suspend the EIS to allow them time to study and analyze the Peabody Mine application but to no avail.
Vernon Masayesva Executive director, Black Mesa Trust P.O. Box 33 Kykotsmovi, AZ 86039 E-mail: kuuyi@aol.com

Related news ...

West Virginia Citizens join with Navajo & Hopi Tribal Leaders and Community Members to Protest Office of Surface Mining

Special to Huntingtonnews.net

From Black Mesa Water Coalition Charleston, WV and Denver, CO (HNN) – Citizens in West Virginia and the Navajo and Hopi in Arizona and New Mexico have more in common than they once thought. Both areas are dealing with loss of water, land and cultural resources as a result of surface mining, and both are frustrated with the systemic lack of enforcement and lack of citizen involvement from the federal government. "When we met with folks from the Navajo community out west, we realized we are having the same problems," said Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch. "They are struggling with bad water, loss of culture and heritage, and systemic apathy from government agencies." The issue these groups are responding to is a rushed "midnight regulation" from the Department of the Interior may be issued in favor of Peabody Coal, and the affected Navajo and Hopi people of Black Mesa are trying to stop it. A large delegation has traveled to Denver to meet with top officials in the Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and hold a press conference and rally in downtown Denver to protest the pending decision, which will grant the coal company a "life-of-mine" permit, expanded mining operations and rights to tap the fresh water of the Navajo aquifer.

Read more ...

http://www.huntingtonnews.net/state/081214-staff-statesurfacemining.html

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