Monday, July 27, 2009

With the Supai in the language of love

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

RED BUTTE, HAVASUPAI TERRITORY -- Sometimes it is hard to put into words the beauty, grace and love. That is the case of being with the Supai elders from the canyon as we gathered at sacred Red Butte. The gathering was to oppose uranium mining in the Grand Canyon, but it was so much more. The people spoke with the language of love and carried out their ceremonies with the assurance of things that are to come that are now unseen.
In my 27 years as a journalist, I've covered about every kind of event, but never one like this. A heartfelt thank you to the Supai elders for sharing their lives with all of us. We broadcast live Thursday through Sunday on and most of the time on the FM radio as well at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Govinda brought the solar powered bus/radio station in from northern California.
Thank you to all of those who came, Louise Benally from Big Mountain, Anna Rondon, Navajo, Petuche Gilbert and Manny Pino from Acoma/Laguna Pueblos, Dennis Banks and the Hopi, Yavapai, Paiute, Zuni, Apache, Lakota, Tohono O'odham and all the others from so many nations. Some came from as far away as Hawaii, others brought their cultures from the south, like the Azteca dancers from Tonatierra. They all assured the Supai that they are read to stand with them and fight. The cooks in the camp prepared some of the best food ever. Thank you to the Havasupai Tribe for providing so much for everyone.
In this pristine and beautiful setting, we listened to Keith Secola, Casper and many other musicians, who as always sang with their hearts. There were dancers and singers from Hopi, Navajo and many other Indian Nations. Many thanks as well to the Supai leaders and organizers for this event, and the Sierra Club for helping bring Earthcycles radio.
The audio archives can be listened to at (click Havasupai and scroll far down the page to listen or download.) Radio stations are encouraged to rebroadcast anywhere in the world. Many audios are already available in the permanent file and others will be soon be posted.
Thank you to all the organizers, the Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and everyone who supported this event.
Special thanks to all those who labor and sacrifice in this cause of love to protect Mother Earth and the Grandmother Canyon from disease and destruction.
Photos and brief videos at Censored News:
Thanks to the UN OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague for spreading the word.
by Matthew Putesoy
Vice Chairman Havasupai Tribe
The Grand Canyon is a national treasure, inviting 5 million people every year to explore and be inspired by its beauty. To the Havasuw 'Baaja, who have lived in the region for many hundreds of years, it is sacred. As the "guardians of the Grand Canyon," we strenuously object to mining for uranium here. It is a threat to the health of our environment and tribe, our tourism-based economy, and our religion.
Thank you, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, for announcing a two-year moratorium on new mining claims in the 1 million acres of lands around Grand Canyon National Park. But existing claims, such as those pursued by Canadian-based Denison Mines Corp., still threaten the animals, air, drinking water and people of this region.Denison, which has staked 110 claims around the Grand Canyon, is seeking groundwater-aquifer permits that would allow it to reopen the Canyon Mine, near Red Butte on the South Rim, as well as two other mining sites.
Uranium mining has been associated with contamination of ground or surface water.
Here, mining could poison the aquifer, which extends for 5,000 square miles under the Coconino Plateau, and serves as drinking water for our tribe and neighboring communities.
As I told Congress recently, if our water were polluted, we could not relocate to Phoenix or someplace else and still survive as the Havasupai Tribe. We are the Grand Canyon. Thanks to Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva for introducing the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act.
We urge U.S. Sen. John McCain to introduce it in the Senate.
Additionally, air and water pollution and the development associated with mining operations could deter tourists, the lifeblood of our economy. Visitors come here to hike, camp, relax at our lodge and enjoy the Havasu, Mooney, Beaver, and Navajo falls, which are among the best-loved and most-photographed waterfalls on Mother Earth.
Most importantly, Red Butte, where Denison Mines intends to reopen a mine, is a traditional site sacred to the Havasuw 'Baaja. Located in the Kaibab National Forest, Red Butte is known as Wii'i Gdwiisa, meaning "clenched-fist mountain." As longtime Havasupai leader Rex Tilousi says, "Red Butte is the lungs of our Grandmother Canyon."
My people have used these traditional Havasupai religious areas for centuries. Instead of allowing the destruction of our national treasure, we are asking the federal government to work with Havasupai Tribe to protect Red Butte and all of the lands on and around the Grand Canyon from further mining activities. This natural wonder is irreplaceable and demands our shared action and protection for those living now, and those yet to be born.
For more information go online to: http://www.arizona.sierra/
Matthew Putesoy is vice chairman of the Havasupai Tribe.

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