August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Photo: AIM leadership with Sen. Abourezk


Russell, Dennis and Clyde then and now!
Thanks to Pearl Means for sharing this photo with Censored News!
AIM Leadership Russell Means, Dennis Banks, former US Senator James Abourezk, and Clyde Bellecourt!
The photo was taken April 28, 2012, at Augustana College, at "Wounded Knee 1973: Forty Years Later." Means lecture was "Wounded Knee, Before, During and After."


Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, Russell Means and Carter Camp as a prayer was being said in Wounded Knee 1973.
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And for a moment in history from Censored News
Senator Abourezk and the Denver spy files
Senator Abourezk made unique history in the 1990s when it was discovered that the Denver police had been spying on the senator, along with AIM, and most Native activists from as far away as Big Mountain for years. Even the attorneys at the Native American Rights Fund were spied on, as revealed in the Denver police spy files. Denver police also had one grandmother in her 80s under surveillance. Her only "crime" was to have a Leonard Peltier bumper sticker.
Here's an excerpt from an article that I wrote after the spy files resulted in changes for Denver police:
Denver police also spied on American Indian attorneys at the Native American Rights Fund and a senator who worked for Native American rights. South Dakota Sen. James Abourezk, who once headed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, was spied on. Abourezk obtained a copy of his spy file and said he still didn't have a clue why he was targeted. Abourezk said he hadn't been in Denver in 15 years. The Abourezk spy file just said the Denver police were watching him.
Anyone helping Navajos at Big Mountain or Zapatistas in Chiapas in Denver was under Denver police surveillance.
The Quakers, it turned out, were among the most spied on in the US, revealing the insanity of US police probes of the peace-seeking.
In the end, after a lawsuit was filed against the Denver Police Department by American Indians, the ACLU and others, the spied-upon could go and retrieve their spy files in Denver. However, this required updating Denver police records with current IDs and personal information, so many passed.
Now, years later, spy files are worming their way out of police file cabinets everywhere, like maggots in wait, feeding on the dark and decaying fecal matter of failed trust.

Vi Waln Photos of Rosebud Testimony to UN Rapporteur for Indigenous



Thank you to Vi Waln on the Sicangu Lakota Nation, Rosebud, South Dakota, for sharing these photos from the session with the UN Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples.
Watch videos from sessions today and yesterday, May 1-2, 2012, at Sinte Gleska University:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/sinte-gleska-university

Debra White Plume to UN Rapporteur: Halt Eco-cide of Mother Earth

Debra White Plume, Lakota, arrested at the White
House in Sept. protesting tarsands and Keystone
pipeline. Photo Tarsands Action
Debra White Plume Testimony on May 1st to the UN Special Rapporteur

Havasupai Damon Watahomigie to UN Rapporteur: Halt uranium mining in Grand Canyon


Statement of Damon Watahomigie

Keepers of the Secret

Havasupai Tribe

Grand Canyon, AZ

(928) 277-6541

supai.waters@yahoo.com

Consultation with The Honorable Mr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tucson, AZ, April 26-27, 2012

Re: Land and Resources

Thank you Honorable Mr. James Anaya, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for allowing me the opportunity to come before you today to speak on behalf of the Havasupai tribe.  I am Watahomigiga, Keepers of the Secrets and an original descendent of the first Havasupai that were removed from the Grand Canyon national park. My grandfather was the sub chief of our people and a war captain who presided here at the national park  just as his parents before him  Our ancestors taught us that we are the anthropocentric and the theocentric  tribes of this region. This is based on nature centered beings who we've entrusted as forbading gods to provide super natural substances for water,  rich soil and good crops. This in return is fed to the deities to usher in a time of prophecies of how our living should be instructed as an ancient matriarchal society with the oldest known language and culture of the Hokan and Yuman tribes of the south west.

On behalf of the Havasupai, the people of the blue-green waters, I appreciate the human rights inquiry led by James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples focusing on the plight of Indigenous people in the US and how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy, and needed reforms and good practices.

The Havasupai Tribal Council and the Havasupai People strongly oppose uranium mining in the Grand Canyon to protect our cultural values, traditional beliefs and uses, practices, sacred places, water, plants and wildlife. The Grand Canyon is a place of prayer for the well-being of the world. Protection of this sacred place affects the climate and weather patterns of the earth.

We support the Department of the Interior’s January 2012 decision to withdraw one million acres of public lands and ban and prohibit new mining claims and mine development on existing claims without valid permits. In March, we joined conservation groups to defend the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 20-year ban on new uranium mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands adjacent to the Grand Canyon.

We appeal to you today for your urgent intervention under the declaration and international law to protect Havasupai territory, the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, a drinking water source for tens of millions of people. 
The current mining ban does not include new uranium mining from Denison Mines:  active mining by VANE Minerals the in Kaibab forest and 3 permits approved for EZ, Pinenut and Canyon mines -- two north of the Grand Canyon, and one near Valle, south of Tusayan. 

I see the effects of uranium mining in Havasupai homeland and for my Navajo neighbors who do not have access to safe drinking water. Today let’s make a stand to end this capitalistic nephilism and demonic conquest of nuclear enticements to all indigenous nations globally.  Our freedom requires we stand together to create a movement that is greater than any movement on the face of this earth. If our belief systems and life ways are free of geomatra, our traditions will be pure and clean and free from political insurpations. We refuse to be viewed as insipid or desiccated.  As the first born warriors of the Grand Canyon we refuse to become the next millennium’s world terrorists by allowing mega nuclear industrial complex mining industries to mine in the Grand Canyon.

Respectfully,

Damon Watahomigie


Navajos testimony to UN Rapporteur: Housing and Water Rights



Forgotten People goes to the UN to secure
housing and water rights


Press statement by Forgotten People
Photo credit: Forgotten People
Censored News

TUCSON, Ariz. --  Mary Lane, Glenna C. Begay, Leta O’Daniel, Leonard Benally, Marlene Benally and Norris Nez of Forgotten People presented on Land and Resources, Self-Government and the Open Forum on the Rights of Indigenous People in Tucson.
A delegation of 14 members of Forgotten People met with the UN to call for recognition of the human right to housing and water. They urged the U.S. to pass legislation that abides by the declaration they signed in 2010, which establishes minimum basic rights for indigenous people globally including the U.S.

Forgotten People appreciates the significance of this historic mission by the United Nations to conduct an investigation into the plight of US Native Americans. Forgotten People believes greater investigation needs to be conducted into the lack of housing, poisoning of water sources, and neglect by the US government in our region to identify how the standards of the declaration are reflected in US law and policy and needed reforms and good practices.

A 43-year US government imposed Bennett Freeze affecting approximately 1,500,000 acres denied Navajo people electricity, running water and adequate sewage disposal. Even though the freeze was lifted by President Obama in 2009, they cannot find any funding or plan for rehabilitation for infrastructure, housing, water and roads.  Only 3% of the families have electricity.  Over 90% of the homes do not have access to piped water, requiring families to haul their water from other locations. Only 24 % of homes are habitable today. 

Since 1966, the population in the area has increased by approximately 65 percent, forcing several generations of families to live together in dwellings that have been declared unfit for human habitation.

A Relocation Act passed in 1974, resulted in the forced eviction of over 15,000 head of households and their families. Those that resisted relocation are under siege to this day by the US Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs using federal monies to confiscate livestock, bulldoze and dismantle water wells and deny people their civil and human rights. Due to a lack of infrastructure, families live in substandard homes, are forced to haul their own water, suffer negative economic and health impacts, are trapped in a circle of poverty and are still drinking contaminated water because they have no choice or have no water at all. 

The U.S. Department of Energy calls Navajo land a “National Sacrifice Area” in a region at the heart of the global warming issue. Black Mesa, Big Mountain is a microcosm of the global problem. The energy is produced on our lands using our resources, yet we receive no benefits from this activity. We suffer the local costs of this production, such as environmental damage and interference with sovereignty. In addition, our traditional lifestyle hangs at the edge of survival in an arid climate, and scientists predict that global warming will cause a permanent drought and dust bowl in the American Southwest, making this life impossible.

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as water, our Blue Gold, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace.  Currently, President Ben Shelly of the Navajo Nation is working with Senator Kyl and McCain to pass legislation for the Little CO River Water Rights Settlement that gives away our water rights to Peabody Coal Company and NGS. Forgotten People believes the Settlement is a tragedy not only due to the minimizing Navajo rights but is waiving hundreds of millions of dollars in potential compensation for rights waived.

To compound the effects, the water rights settlement forever waives without redress for past present and future contamination of water sources when the U.S. EPA reports the presence of over 1,300 abandoned mines on reservation land and up to 25 % of the unregulated sources in the western Navajo Nation exceeds drinking water standard for kidney toxicants including uranium.

 Forgotten People believes the US should be held accountable under the declaration and to commitments made internationally which establish minimum basic rights for indigenous people, including UN General Assembly (GA) Resolutions on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and a commitment by the U.S. EPA at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015.

Forgotten People believes President Obama and Navajo Nation should sign a binding version of the declaration to ensure access to clean and potable water and housing as fundamental human rights and participation in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights under the declaration and international law.

Copies of Forgotten People’s interventions are available. For more information please contact Mary Lane, Vice-President, Forgotten People at (928) 401-1777 or via email: info@forgottennavajopeople.org

Forgotten People

P.O. Box 1661

Tuba City, AZ 86045



(928) 401-1777


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Leta O'Daniel to UN Rapporteur: Dine' traditional law of Holy People


Leta O’Daniel, Member

Forgotten People

P.O. Box 1661

Tuba City (Navajo Nation), AZ  86045



(928) 401-0472



Consultation with The Honorable Mr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur

on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tucson, AZ, April 26-27, 2012

Topic: Self Government


Ya’ah’teeh Honorable Special Rapporteur James Anaya.  I am honored as a member of Forgotten People on the Navajo Nation to be part of the first mission to the US by an independent expert designated by the UN human rights council to report on the rights of the indigenous peoples. I support your testimony to Congress on the need for the US to pass legislation that abides by the declaration they signed in 2010, which establishes minimum basic rights for indigenous people globally including the US.

I wish to address failures of the United States to remediate conditions in the Hopi Partition Land (HPL) where I live. When I was young, I was forced to leave my land and go to boarding school. I tried to support myself and my children until I returned home disabled as a result of an accident. 

The US government manufactured a Navajo Hopi Land dispute and spent over 2.5 billion dollars to forcibly relocate over 12,000 head of households (and their families) to resolve title of a former Joint Use Area to clear the region for massive coal mining and water depletion. Navajos resisting relocation were forced to sign a 75-year lease (Accommodation Agreement AA) or be called trespassers on our ancestral lands, without housing, water, civil, and human rights.

When the US government began relocating people, I refused to relocate when I found out my children were not entitled to anything and they only recognized head of households.  Now my children are grown and have families of their own and we still get no help from the government.  My children and my grandchildren are told they are not entitled to scholarships. One of my son’s joined the marines so he could get the money to go to school. And there are no jobs in the area so my children and grandchildren are displaced and the fabric of my family torn.

The US government, the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribal governments never helped me, will not recognize me. They told me I will never get a home because I relinquished my signature on the AA when I was lied to by a lawyer that told me he would help me get my land back.  I have gone to many lawyers trying to get help but I am a nobody to my government. The woman that owns the home where I am living in has threatened me, beat me up and threw me out of the house but I have nowhere else to go.

All I see is how our government uses us as bait so they can get federal funds to build and rehabilitate homes for HPL AA signers and resisters they mis-use to spend on land acquisitions and to build casinos. Our council men never ask us before they spent our money. 

I think the only hope we have is to show you what we are going through as signers and non-signers of the 75-year lease and relocation resisters. Relocation should never have happened.  We have oral teachings like the white people have the Ten Commandments.  The Holy People are to us what guardian angels are to Christians. We are from here.  Our origin stories and our clans are from here.

We have been here since the time our people walked with the dinosaurs. DNA studies support a Navajo-Anasazi X haplogroup.

 My neighbors come from Yeii, Holy people from the ancient Anasazi. Three of my brothers are Medicine Men and I listen to their stories.  I can show you where our tracks are side-by-side with the dinosaurs and share origin stories back to the time the dinosaurs ate some humans and our ancestors lived in the cliff to stay away from them and the twin warriors, Monster Slayer and Born by Water helped save our people from the dinosaurs.

We have prayers and songs for our livestock given to us by the Holy People. Our oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation instructs us to hold on to and take care of our livestock. Spider Woman taught us how to weave rugs. Our designs tell woven stories. It sustains us and provides a livelihood. 

My family has been here since before the Long Walk. My great grandmother Yellow Woman went on the Long Walk to Fort Sumner to find her children.  When she found the soldiers she turned herself over to them.  When the people got weak the soldiers shot and killed them. Three of her children died on the Walk.  She caught up with the other 2 children, a boy and a girl. They were treated like slaves. My great grandmother Yellow Woman was starving to death when she was laid down on the road. 

A rabbit came over to her and gave birth where my great grandmother laid.  The rabbit stayed long enough to nurse her baby then left.  My great grandmother squeezed the baby rabbit’s milk into her mouth. If my great grandmother did not get the milk she would have starved to death. She later ate the rabbit and it nourished her.  After 4 years she was given 2 sheep and came home. She told me the rabbit is how I came to be born.  Her life inspired me to hold onto my livestock to this day and practice self-government, self-rule of the Matriarchs.



Recommendations:

·         We have a traditional justice system based on a holistic philosophy. Law is a way of life, and justice is a part of our life process.

·         Diyin Bits'áádé Beehaz'áanii (Diné Traditional Law) was given to us by the Holy People to help us preserve, respect and honor Diné elders and medicine people and their contributions to traditional values and principles of our life way.

·         Our oral tradition and key concepts in Diyin Bits'áádé Beehaz'áanii (Traditional Navajo Law) like Hózhó (harmony), K'é (peacefulness and solidarity), and K'éí (kinship) help us solve community problems, and control our own futures. 

·         Our tradition of tribal self-governance and tradition and custom are in rules of evidence and are recognized as a legitimate form of law.

·         The US government Department of the Interior should give indigenous peoples the title to our lands so we can govern our own internal affairs, assume greater responsibility and control over decision making that affects our communities, and work in partnership with other governments and the private sector to promote economic development and improve social conditions.



FP prays for your intervention and the application of emergency measures to ensure the protection of our rights under the Declaration so we can exercise home rule and self-government rights.



Respectfully submitted.   

Ahe’hee (Thank you)

Leta O’Daniel, Member

Forgotten People

Navajo Nation, AZ


Leonard Benally to UN Rapporteur: Corporate crimes on Black Mesa, Navajoland


Leonard Benally, Member

Forgotten People

P.O. Box 41

Kykotsmovi, AZ   86039

Phone: (928) 797-9468


Consultation with The Honorable Mr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tucson, AZ, April 26-27, 2012

 Topic: Self-government

 Thank you allowing me the opportunity to present on Self-Government. I would like to address failures of the US government to resolve problems for Navajo people living in Hopi Partition Land (HPL) on the Navajo Nation.  Our history presents a tangled web of corporate and governmental collusion to relocate traditional Navajo people from our ancestral land so Peabody Coal Company could mine coal and water so far-away cities could prosper. 

John Boyden served as attorney for Peabody Coal Company and the Hopi Tribe at the same time and committed Fraud on the Court by not telling the courts about 2 lawsuits litigated at the same time to sell the land including the acreage of HPL and the value of the coal beneath the ground as a taking by the US government before the Indian Claims Commission and getting half the land back in the former Joint Use Area in Healing v. Jones.    

John Boyden negotiated contracts to provide energy and water for southwestern cities: Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles.  Boyden’s conflict of interest is documented by Charles Wilkinson in ‘Conquest and Endurance in the American Southwest,’ by Indian Law Resource Center in ‘Docket 196,’ and by John Dougherty in ‘Dark Days on Black Mesa.’   

Forced relocation by the US government is too high a price to pay to steal our lands so far-away cities can prosper. Even though we have the right to vote as citizens, a 1974 U.S. Appeals Court ruling (Healing v. Jones) said we only have rights through our tribes and not as individuals.  Instead of being able to own property, the Navajo and Hopi tribal councils have the authority to lease lands on behalf of their tribal members.  Both tribes estimate $10 billion in coal deposits beneath our land.  Water used to support mining operations is depleting and degrading pristine ice age water from our sole source aquifer.

Leon Berger who resigned from the U.S. Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation U.S. Office of Navajo-Hopi Indian Relocation (ONHIR), an executive commission that reports directly to the President said, “Some 15,000 Navajos have been forcibly relocated at a cost of 2.5 billion taxpayer dollars. He said, “Peabody Coal is now in a beautiful position because the government is relocating people, and it is much easier to mine land where there are no people.”

According to Thayer Scudder, a CalTech professor and world’s leading relocation expert, “This is the largest forced relocation in the U.S. A tangled web of laws lets the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs impound Navajo sheep and arrest us for simply repairing our homes and bulldoze repaired homes.” 

Ever since the mine started we have been living without electricity and running water.  Water sources have been capped off, surface and groundwater supplies depleted, washes contaminated from arsenic and other heavy metals.  The humans and the animals in Big Mountain and Black Mesa do not have any safe drinking water and we are forced to travel long distances or drink water we suspect is contaminated.   Too many of our people have died without a health assessment done of respiratory problems, black lung, silicosis, cancer, kidney failure, despair and suicide in the name and pursuit of coal and high royalties.

The U.S. Department of Energy calls our lands a “National Sacrifice Area” and is at the heart of the global warming issue. Our communities are a microcosm of the global problem. The energy is produced on our lands using our resources, yet we receive no benefits from this activity. We suffer the local costs of this production, such as environmental damage to our land, degradation and diminution of our water resources and interference with sovereignty.  We find that our traditional lifestyle hangs at the edge of survival in an arid climate, and scientists predict that global warming will cause a permanent drought and dust bowl in the American Southwest, making our way of life impossible.

Peabody coal is burned at the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and is used to provide electricity and water to Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Most of the energy generated is used to pump Central Arizona Project (CAP) water for a heavily subsidized water project that is used on heavily subsidized crops to its end west of Tucson where millions of gallons of CO River water pumped across 300 miles of desert, propelled by power generated by Peabody coal is dumped on a dry lake bed. 

Peabody and NGS are using our water while we do not have a drop of water to drink. The US Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs capped off all the water wells in our region allegedly to protect public health because of uranium and arsenic contamination but we suspect without access to the data is because of harassment.  The springs we used to rely on ran dry due to Peabody’s pumping our sole source aquifer to slurry coal. 

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as water, our Blue Gold, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace.  Currently, President

 Ben Shelly of the Navajo Nation is working with Senator Kyl and McCain to pass legislation for the Little CO River Water Rights Settlement that gives away our water rights to Peabody Coal Company and NGS. We believe the Settlement is a tragedy not only due to the minimizing Navajo rights but is waiving hundreds of millions of dollars in potential compensation for rights waived.

Our liberty is being sacrificed for an economic bonanza based on fraud and corruption.  Our justice has been prostituted by hand outs, hopelessness, and conformity elevated to the status of the National Security doctrines.  We are the historical lot of the dispossessed. Democracy has been whitewashed with imported detergent that allows reclaimed sewer water to get dumped on our Sacred San Francisco Peaks.

Peabody's collusion with the US government has resulted in a dark infamy of genocide and crimes against my people and the environment - relocation, the Bennett Freeze, uranium mining, all in the pursuit of energy resource development fueled by corporate and governmental greed and collusion.  

I offer my heartfelt support for democracy and freedom for all indigenous people in struggle.  I believe, if the voices of all the dispossessed come together as one voice, nothing would be left standing of the gigantic lies. Misery is the historical lot of the dispossessed. I want freedom and justice for my people and our right to self-government and indigenous autonomy like our ancestors.

Recommendations:

·         Indigenous people should use the Declaration in support of concrete aims like self-governance, self-rule and control over property rights, land and resources.

·         Indigenous people should use the right to free, prior and informed consent, as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and our Treaties instead of continuing to sustain injuries to our property rights, water rights, economic rights, and our rights to just compensation for waived and/or lost rights.

·         The Navajo Nation should adopt the declaration as their standard for addressing water rights issues such as the proposed Little Colorado River settlement introduced as Senate Bill 2109 and House Resolution 4067.

·         Peabody Coal Company should be held accountable for trademarks left behind, a legacy of corporate crimes against the indigenous people of Black Mesa. Respectfully,

Leonard Benally

Big Mountain Resister and Member, Forgotten People

Big Mountain, Black Mesa, Navajo Nation, AZ


Mary Lane to UN Rapporteur: Water and human rights on Navajoland


Mary Lane, Vice-President

Forgotten People

P.O. Box 539

Tonalea (Navajo Nation), AZ  86044



(928) 864-6413



Consultation with The Honorable Mr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur

on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tucson, AZ, April 26-27, 2012

Topic: Land and Resources


Ya’ah’teeh. Honorable Special Rapporteur James Anaya.  Forgotten People (FP) is a Non Governmental Organization incorporated in the Navajo Nation that spans over 2 million acres of remote desert terrain in northeastern Arizona. Most of our members do not speak, read, or write English and live a traditional subsistence lifestyle.

FP wishes to address failures of the United States to remediate conditions in the Hopi Partition Land and the former Bennett Freeze  – given the focus in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on remedies for violations of human rights. Our community’s land and water rights are essential to our physical, cultural and spiritual survival as a distinct people.

In the Hopi Partition Land (HPL), the US government in collusion with the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and Peabody Coal Company sacrificed us and expropriated our cultural and spiritual rights and our lands and water for energy resource exploitation.  We are called trespassers on land we have continuously occupied for more than 10 generations before the Long Walk to Fort Sumner and creation of the Navajo and Hopi tribal governments. 

For over 4 decades we have survived, resisting forced relocation by the US government, federally funded dismantling of all our water sources, federally funded confiscation of our animals, and we are denied the right to build and repair our homes. 

We are forced to live under a foreign Hopi tribal government with no participation, no civil rights, no right to vote, and no representation. By failing to resolve the dispute it helped create, the U.S. government through its Relocation Commission in HPL intends to clear our land for large-scale  mineral and water expropriation while the President Ben Shelly of the Navajo Nation refuses to help us and tells us our land is lawless. 

A 43-year US government imposed Bennett Freeze was lifted by President Obama in 2009 but we cannot find any funding or plan for rehabilitation for infrastructure, housing, water and roads.  Only 3% of the families have electricity.  Over 90% of the homes do not have access to piped water, requiring families to haul their water from other locations. Only 24 % of homes are habitable today.  

The US EPA reports the presence of over 1,300 abandoned uranium mines and mills on the Navajo Nation and says up to 25 % of the unregulated sources in our communities in the western Navajo Nation exceed drinking water standard for kidney toxicants including uranium. An unremediated abandoned upgrader uranium mill on the banks of the Little CO River (quantified as drinking water in the settlement), maxxed out US Environmental protection Agency Superfund Geiger counters at over a million counts a minute. 

In February, 2012, Senators Kyl and McCain introduced Senate Bill 2109 (and House Resolution 4067), knowing of President Ben Shelly, Navajo Nation’s interest in signing a controversial Little CO River Water Rights Settlement without informing the Navajo Nation Council and the people. This legislation has add-ons that directly benefit the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) owners and Peabody Coal Company. The settlement grants a waiver without redress for past, present and future contamination of our water sources.

 In Wupatki National Monument, a lone Navajo holdout was given special dispensation by Congress for lifetime occupancy with no rights for her family members to continue living there and without a right of return of all the families that survived a forced march across the Little CO River where they drank uranium and arsenic contaminated water without being told and now that they know, due to a lack of infrastructure have no other choice.


Recommendations:

·         President Obama should sign a binding declaration to show his commitment to indigenous rights.

·         The Navajo Nation should adopt the declaration as their standard for addressing water rights issues such as the proposed Little Colorado River settlement introduced as Senate Bill 2109 and House Resolution 4067.

·         The US government should be held accountable to commitments made internationally including UN General Assembly (GA) Resolutions on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and a commitment by the US EPA at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015.

·         Article 31 to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should include access to clean and potable water as a fundamental human right.


I pray for your intervention and the application of emergency measures to ensure the protection of our rights under the declaration.

Ahe’hee (Thank you) Respectfully submitted by Mary Lane

Vice-President, Forgotten People, Navajo Nation, AZ

Glenna Begay to UN Rapporteur: Peabody Coal's genocide on Black Mesa


Glenna Begay, Member

Forgotten People

P.O. Box 893

Kayenta (Navajo Nation), AZ  86033



(928) 675-8483



Consultation with The Honorable Mr. James Anaya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Tucson, AZ, April 26-27, 2012

Topic: Land and Resources. 

 Ya’ah’teeh Honorable Special Rapporteur James Anaya.  I am a traditional Diné (Navajo) elder born in Black Mesa on the Navajo Nation.  Glenna says, I do not speak read or write English and live a subsistence lifestyle herding sheep.  My family has been living here for 8 or 9 generations since before the creation of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe and the Long Walk to Fort Sumner.

I wish to address failures of the United States to remediate conditions in the Hopi Partition Land and the former Bennett
Freeze  – given the focus in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples on remedies for violations of
human rights. Our community’s land and water rights are essential to our physical, cultural and spiritual survival as a distinct
people.

My people are suffering many effects from Peabody Coal Company’s mining operations in Black Mesa. Diné religion forbids strip mining which violates basic teachings in which the Earth is a living entity that is being harmed. When we wake up in the morning the horizon is thick with dust from overnight operation of drag lines that remove the top layers of earth to expose the coal. Blasting is frequent and frightening.  Surface water sources have been poisoned or destroyed. Sites that were the sole source of sacred and medicinal plants have been destroyed by the mine.  

I live 5 miles from Peabody’s Black Mesa mine complex.  I do not have electricity and running water, my roads are not graded.  Until recently, I suspected I was among the families that will be relocated if Peabody’s Kayenta mine permit is renewed but I have never been told and I have not been interviewed. Relocation and the threat of relocation have a huge impact on me and my family.  Relocation threatens my life and culture.

I cannot even describe how huge an impact relocation has on my life as a resister against forced relocation by the US government. There is no place to move that we can continue our traditional way of life.  My family has been here for many generations.  My grandparents are buried around the area.  I was born here and my roots are here where I live and make my offerings, prayers and conduct ceremonials.  If we move elsewhere there are people living there and a lot of harassment. Relocation for me, on HPL means moving to Sanders.  I am not moving there. Most of the people that relocated there died, became alcoholics or just moved away, abandoning their homes.

In 1997, I hosted a historic meeting with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Black Mesa was the focus of the investigation.  At this meeting, Thayer Scudder, California Institute of Technology anthropologist who has testified before Congress and is recognized by leading international anthropological organizations said, “Forced relocation in our case is among the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement he has ever seen in the world.” He also said,  “Because of the destructive impact of involuntary relocation on people who have strong religious and cultural ties to the land, this is a case of ethnic cleansing.”  Upon resignation, Federal Relocation Commissioners called relocation Genocide, comparing what happened to us to what Hitler did to the Jewish people.

Peabody has no respect for the dead.  Peabody has destroyed thousands of ancient Anasazi cliff houses, burial and sacred sites, Diné cemeteries, sacred sites that continues to this day.  They dug up Anasazi burials in my customary use area. I saw it with David Brugge, a famous anthropologist.  Many of the Anasazi burials sites were not even covered up after removal of the remains.  Their locations were marked by archeologists’ stakes in violation of our religion.  Mounds of dirt remain adjacent to the graves sifted for ceremonial objects that were taken to unknown locations.

A Kiva containing 28 Anasazi burials was destroyed and is now under tons of dirt. Many human remains were taken from the site and others were left scattered on the surface of the ground.  We don’t even know what happens to the remains they removed.  Next to the bulldozed area is a site where we make offerings, have held many ceremonies, including fire dances. 
 
Residents in the mining area have been jailed or threatened with jail for trying to protect their  burial and sacred sites. Other residents have watched the unearthing of graves, given only the choice whether to watch or not to watch. Roy and Alice Tso eldest son’s remains were taken to some unknown location. They wanted to know where their son’s remains were taken to.  Roy Tso was a dedicated employee that retired from Peabody Coal Company.  He died of Silicosis.  His last wish was to protect his burial and sacred sites from Peabody destruction, including a site where you can hear thunder through the hill.  This is a sacred shrine used by many of my people that was destroyed.  

The US government Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) confiscates our livestock to conduct range management. Several times they confiscated my sheep, goats and they burned off my horses flesh with a hot poker while they were in the BIA impoundment yard. The BIA installed the windmill near me before Peabody then they dismantled it.

Recently the BIA issued a press release to tell us they dismantled our well to protect public health because the water is contaminated with uranium and arsenic. We are denied our major water source.  We were never told when or how it got contaminated and we are refused access to the data.  We don’t know if it was dismantled because of contamination or harassment. 

Our corn does not grow like it used to because there is no water beneath the ground. We do not get any rain or snow. When it snows, it is not wet and there is no moisture in it. The snow just blows around like sand.  The communication between mother earth and father sky has been disrupted. Due to excessive pumping of our groundwater by Peabody to slurry coal, a Turkey rock at Monument Valley is crumbling, a portion of mountain on the south side of Kayenta shattered and fell, we have  sinkholes in Red Lake and Black Mesa, massive rock subsidence in the canyon in Black Mesa and at other locations.

It is harder now. I feel like we are still on the Long Walk. My people are having a hard time with uranium exposure and uranium workers are dying.  Now, coal miners are all dying off.  Almost all the retirees are getting diagnosed with Black Lung and Silicosis. I am opposed to mining, relocation and Peabody’s destruction of our Sacred land, female Black Mesa.

To protect endangered sacred, historic and cultural sites in and adjacent to Peabody’s mining area my family created an interactive GIS map using ARC software entitled ‘Nihikeyah/Our Land’ at www.saveblackmesa.org  Our land is significant due to the particular sacred sites each family is connected to. Every square inch of our land is sacred. That is why relocation has such a huge impact. Why we cannot relocate. Why we cannot allow it to be desecrated. 

This map shows a small portion of our communities to support a petition to UNESCO to have Big Mountain, Black Mesa declared a World Heritage site and the Grandmother Matriarchs declared Living Human Treasures.

I pray for your intervention, protection and support of the UN Commission of Human Rights for our petition to UNESCO.

 Recommendations:              

·         President Obama should fulfill his pledge made on December 16, 2010 and sign a binding declaration to show his commitment to indigenous people.

·         UN Commission on Human Rights support of our Petition to UNESCO to have Black Mesa declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Matriarchs declared quintessential Living Human Treasures.



Ahe’hee (Thank you) Respectfully submitted by Glenna Begay

Forgotten People, Navajo Nation

Translation by Fern Benally, Black Mesa resident