Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 13, 2013

Navajos protest Salt River Project and dirty coal energy

Photos by Elsa Johnson, Dine', thanks for sharing with Censored News!

By Elsa Johnson, Dine'
and Brenda Norrell, Censored News

TEMPE, Arizona -- Navajos spoke out against dirty coal at the Salt River Project, operator of the Navajo Generating Station, one of the dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the US, during the Ash Wednesday Mob Protest. It was initiated by the Arizona Interfaith Power and Light Organization.
Marshall Johnson, Navajo environmental advocate and co-founder of  To Nizhoni Ahni (Beautiful Water Speaks), was invited to speak to a non-Native audience. He gave a startling backdrop to the social and environmental injustices stemming from coal mined on his ancestral land- Black Mesa which feeds the Navajo Generating Station with coal.  
Because of Navajo and Hopi coal, the state of Arizona and Maricopa county reap a $160 billion economy while an egregious disparity exists on Navajo land. 
The majority of the attendees were not aware of the startling statistics and the inequities before.

  • Protester Kathy Watson walked up to Johnson after his presentation and apologized for the harm the land and his people endure so she and millions of valley residents can enjoy low-cost electricity and water.
Rev. Doug Bland, co-executive director of Arizona Interfaith Power and Light (AZIPL) organized the Ash Wednesday mob protest consisting of several local ministers including over fifty concerned parishioners in front of Salt River Project Corporate Office in Tempe, Arizona at noon, February 13, 2013. Protests are also planned for APS and Tucson Electric headquarters within the next few months.
Today is the beginning of Lent observed by several western organized churches.  Rev. Bland brought a chunk of coal along with pulverized coal. Rather than the typical ash for blessing, Rev. Bland used the powdered coal which he applied to the forehead of several parishioners after the protest. With the giving of ashes, Christian members of AZIPL were asked to consider fasting from carbon through March 31, 2013, Ecumenical Carbon Fast for Lent.
Thirty-two churches belong to AZIPL. The national Interfaith Power and Light organization has over 3,400 members.
An adaptation from a speech by Chief Seattle in 1854 was read: “Every part of this earth is sacred. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the children of the earth. The air is precious; for all of us share the same breath. This we know, the earth does not belong to us: we belong to the earth. This we, all things are connected, like the blood which unites one family. Our God is the God, whose compassion is equal for all. Fore we did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.”
“God of all, sacred one, teach us love, compassion and honor that we may heal the earth and each other. Amen.”  –Adapted from the Ojibway Nation of Canada.
 For more information, please go to the website: 
--Elsa Johnson

The Navajo Generating Station, located on the Navajo Nation near Page, Ariz., uses coal from Black Mesa, where Peabody Coal orchestrated the so-called Navajo-Hopi land dispute and relocation of more than 14,000 Navajos. Recently, Arizona Senators Jon Kyl and John McCain, and Interior Sec. Ken Salazar, attempted a scheme to sneak a so-called water rights settlement through the Lame Duck Congress. The scheme was to provide the dirty coal-fired power plant, and Arizona cities downstream which waste water, with water from the Little Colorado River. Navajos had already said 'NO' to the scheme. Salazar's leaked memo was exposed by Censored News. Salazar announced in January that he would leave the Interior.
While SRP and Navajo Generating Station provide electricity to the Southwest, while depleting and polluting the water sources, many Navajos live without running water and electricity. 
Navajos on Black Mesa continue to fight forced relocation and the ongoing destruction and pollution by Peabody Coal and Navajo Generating Station.
Corrupt Navajo politicians, and non-Indian attorneys, continue their schemes with Arizona Congressmen and non-Indian attorneys behind closed doors, which keeps the dirty coal-fired power plant operating. --Censored News

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