Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 26, 2012

Dineh Louise Benally: Arizona racism and coal fired power plants

Louise Benally during Salt River Project protest,
speaking out against the coal fired Navajo
Generating Station. Photo: Resist ALEC
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

On First Voices Indigenous Radio today, WBAI New York, Louise Benally, Dineh, resisting relocation at Big Mountain, described the detriment of coal fired power plants and racism in Arizona.

Louise said regardless of the struggles, Dineh living on the land still live in harmony with the land. Louise described the natural herbs and healing ceremonies that come from the wild, now being contaminated by pollution. "It is doing a lot of destruction." She spoke on the chemical trails settling in the water and environment.

"Those are real problems we are faced with now, because a lot of the vegetation is being wiped out." She said Peabody coal mine releases pollution to the regional watershed on Black Mesa. "It is just devastating," she said, to live in this situation.

Louise Benally confronts Salt River Project staff.
Photo Resist ALEC.
She also described the three coal fired power plants on the Navajo Nation. There are the two in the Four Corners area near Farmington NM which leave a grey haze over the skies. Then there is the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., producing more contamination. These coal fired power plants carry electricity to cities like Phoenix and Tucson while Navajos suffer with disease and pollution.

"We can't just continue to produce, produce and produce pollution," said Louise, adding that these coal fired power plants are making the ice melt in the Arctic.

Louise described the changes to the climate and how development is creating this. If the land is not healthy, then life is not healthy either, Louise said, describing the Navajos respiratory problems and cancer.

Describing how Arizona just banned ethnic studies, she said, "It is just really sad."

Radio show host Tiokasin Ghosthorse described how the scheme was to make it look like the so called land dispute was between Hopi and Navajo. This scheme kept people from getting involved because they were led to believe it was an internal dispute between the two nations, rather than what it was: A carefully designed scheme to remove thousands of Navajos from Black Mesa to make way for Peabody coal mining, which continues today.

Louise said, "They were pitting tribe against tribe to get at the resources," explaining how they did this to get at the coal and resources.

Louise said the Navajo tribe is not realizing the depletion of the resources, and what Peabody is doing. However, she said the Hopi tribe is beginning to realize the detriment to the natural resources.

She said Native people need to revitalize the old ways and sustainable food. "We can still use the earth as our healing substance."

Tiokasin closed by pointing out that in the city, people don't take responsibility for taking care of the land and say it is the US government's responsibility to deal with it.

Listen to archive later today, Thursday at:


Tao Dao Man said...

I hope you do not mind, I cross posted this to my site.
If you are not OK with that, please let me know and I will take it down.

I live in Az. and have been up North many times.
I always amazes me how serene the land is.

Censored News, publisher Brenda Norrell said...

Thanks for writing. Everyone is free to post Censored News on like minded websites which do not have advertising. (Those with advertising need to ask permission, as some are scam websites profiteering from all our labors of love.) Thanks for sharing.