Louise Benally on global warming and apartheid at Black Mesa
By Brenda Norrell
Photos: Dan Harrison/Clan Dyken Thanksgiving Black Mesa
BIG MOUNTAIN -- As snow covers the land, Louise Benally sends a message to Indigenous Peoples and world leaders gathered in Copenhagen on Censored News Blog Radio. Benally begins with thanks to musicians Clan Dyken and friends for the Thanksgiving food boxes they brought to Big Mountain.
Benally, Navajo resisting relocation at Big Mountain, describes the ongoing harassment by Hopi BIA Rangers. Livestock are being confiscated and Navajos resisting relocation have to buy back their sheep, goats, cattle and horses. The suffering continues for the people who depend on their livestock for survival on Black Mesa, where it is a 130-mile drive to a grocery store. Navajos on Black Mesa have been abandoned by the Navajo Nation government.
Speaking to the global leaders in Copenhagen, Benally said world leaders should reconsider fossil fuel and coal mining. Pointing to the destruction by Peabody Coal on Black Mesa, Benally said, “They have depleted a lot of the groundwater.” She said the coal mining continues to pollute the air, land and water, especially in cold weather when respiratory problems increase.
“Right now this whole planet is being contaminated by fossil fuel development," she said, urging alternative energy.
“Reverse the greed for natural resources that are fossil fuels and apply pressure toward renewable energy,” she said in her message to Copenhagen. Benally said there is no such as clean energy from coal and uranium. There is no safe place to put nuclear waste and uranium mining has caused generations of death and disease for Navajos. “Leave it in the ground.”
Benally described how global warming is obvious on Big Mountain. Last summer's squash were unable to cross pollinate and the corn popped inside its husk.
“This indicates to me there is a big imbalance in nature and the heat is extreme.”
On Big Mountain, vegetation is now burnt by the sun.
Benally described her visit to the Arctic Circle. At Point Hope, the people were very concerned about the melting ice and the vanishing resources for survival.
With the Arctic faced with more mining and drilling, Benally said corporations target Indian territories. “These people have no mercy and these people will not fix problems they create.”
Benally remembered the animals in the Arctic who will have no place to survive if their ice homeland melts.
She also described her testimony in Washington DC to the UN Rapporteur on the desperate need for housing on Black Mesa, where people are unable to repair their homes under federal law. Apartheid has continued on Black Mesa since 1974, she said.
Benally encouraged Indigenous Peoples gathered in Copenhagen, the Indigenous Environmental Network, AIM West and other Native peoples, to continue to advocate for the people back home and a green future.
LISTEN: Louise Benally, Navajo resisting relocation at Big Mountain, speaks on Black Mesa, relocation and global warming. Special message to Indigenous Peoples gathered at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen.
Censored News Blog Radio:
Clan Dyken Thanksgiving Food Drive for Black Mesa
"With your help we raised a vibe and brought it along with thousands of pounds of food, supplies and firewood and served over 110 families. Our crew of about thirty people coordinated with over one hundred activists organized by Black Mesa Indigenous Support network who provided work parties as well. The days were warm, the nights clear and cold, the circle strong and time was irrelevant. The future is now and we are making it." Read more, with more photos and video at:
Clan Dyken music video on Black Mesa 2009, with introduction by Tim Johnson at Dove Springs:
Black Mesa Indigenous Support, updates and information: