Today my mind goes back to one of my last conversations with Leroy Jackson. Leroy said the key to stopping coal mining on Black Mesa was to prove that Peabody Coal never had a legitimate EIS, environmental impact statement. Peabody Coal's mining permits and leases at Black Mesa were entrenched in fraud, deception and lies. Everyone knew it, but it has taken decades to prove it, and prove it again, and again. Thanks to the Navajo and Hopi who never gave up the struggle.
The last conversation with Leroy came before he drove into those mountains between Taos, N.M., and Durango, Colo., where he was found dead in 1993. Already, Navajo politicians had threatened his life. He always had the perfect quote and comeback for the lies and attacks from politicians. Before he died, he cofounded Dine' Citizens Against Ruining the Environment, halted the clear cut logging of the Navajos Chuska Mountains and exposed massive fraud and corruption at the Navajo sawmill.
Driving behind the hearse which carried his body home to the Chuska and Tsaile Mountains, red-tailed hawks circled above at Wheatfields Lake. Already, his spirit was flying in the blue sky above, flying home.
Perhaps if Leroy had not died, for those of us who knew him, our commitment to this struggle to protect and defend Mother Earth would not have remained so strong throughout the years.
Thank you Leroy. See you on the other side.