August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Dine' Louise Benally: Greed, climate change and the dirty coal industry

Louise Benally/Photo by Brenda Norrell
By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
May 1, 2013

BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. -- The lease extension continuing the dirty coal industry on Navajoland comes as no surprise to Louise Benally, whose family has been resisting forced relocation and the genocide of Peabody Coal on Black Mesa since Peabody began destroying the earth and the health of the people here.
Dine' here fought hard to halt the 25-year-lease extension for the Navajo Generating Station near Page. The dirty coal fired power plant provides electricity in Arizona, primarily to non-Navajos, and pollutes Navajoland and the Grand Canyon region. The lease was approved by the Navajo Nation Council and signed by President Ben Shelly this week.
Benally told Censored News, "The recent action by the Navajo Nation was not a surprise to anyone. They have started to sign away our natural resources -- coal, water, air and human rights -- for a few people in central Arizona to have water and power and not pay a fair rate for it. The state of Arizona and its energy agencies are forcefully taking these resources from our homelands without any justice."
"Our so-called Tribal Leaders have 'No conscious' and are blinded by greed. They are sacrificing the future of our survival. They have no idea that climate change is caused by over-consumption of fossil fuel."
Peabody Coal is at the root of the crisis and mines the coal on Black Mesa which fuels the Navajo Generating Station. Peabody orchestrated the so-called Navajo Hopi land dispute to remove more than 14,000 Navajos from their homes in order to mine Black Mesa's coal.
Benally said today, "Right now there is land (cracking) opening right near the mine and they don't even know it. The air is very dirty."
"The ground water is being depleted on a very large scale. Lands are caving in because there is no more ground water to hold up the surface.
Benally said greed is what fuels the Navajo government.
"They want to get rich. What about the future generations?
"The council was told that they have no choice in the matter because they do not have the upper hand."
Benally has seen first hand the devastation from climate change in the Arctic. Coal fired power plants on this continent are the primary source of global warming and the melting of ice in the Arctic. Native villages have collapsed with the ground beneath them, and polar bears, walruses and other wildlife are losing their habitat.
There is an alternative to continuing the genocidal path of the dirty coal industry, she said.
"Coal is a depleting resource. California and Nevada have stopped buying coal and Arizona needs to focus on renewable resources," she said.
On Wednesday, there was no indication as to whether the Navajo Generating Station and its owners, including its operator Salt River Project, would agree to the new terms of the lease.

Yellow Thunder Camp -- First Hand, First Year

Yellow Thunder Camp -- First Hand, First Year

Copyright Scott Barta, Dakota
Posted with permission at Censored News

On April 4th, 1981 my favorite cousin, Ihanktunwan Hoksina "Yankton Boy" Greg Zephier, Sr., brought three Tipis (borrowed from brother Al who was on the Pierre Indian School Board) to Porcupine, SD on the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation to take on the caravan that would take us into the Sacred Black Hills to reclaim and utilize our 1851 Treaty Lands.
Bill and Russell Means had planned for that day, Martin Luther King's anniversary, to caravan from Porcupine to a location known only by Bill Means to set up the Treaty camp. There was also a 'law' that world-famous defense attorney, William Kuntsler, had discovered still on the books (he told Bill and Russ about it) that had allowed many white people to seep and sneak into the Black Hills to begin with - a law that stated anyone who set up a church and school would receive three acres of land.
We arrived that afternoon to hot sunshine, then snow, then rain, then hail, and then sunshine again, which seemed we experienced every one of the four seasons in one day. The first thing we did was set up the Life Renewal Lodge and then the three Tipis. We went there under the "supreme law" guarantees of the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie. Article VI of that old document states "Treaties made with Indian Nations shall be the supreme law of the land, with the judges in every state bound thereby" - an Article of law still violated each and every day.
In the first Life Renewal Lodge ceremony that evening, my uncle Big Bob Humphrey of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska recommended we name the camp "Yellow Thunder" in honor of Raymond Yellow Thunder who was murdered by rednecks in Gordon, Nebraska in 1972. Racist authorities there were refusing to charge the two rednecks who were guilty of the death.
At that time our family was at a convention in Omaha Nebraska that AIM (American Indian Movement) was attending. The Sioux City AIM Chapter, led by my dad, George Barta, and mother Reva DeCorah (she was the National Secretary of AIM until her passing in 2007), had chartered a greyhound bus so that all the Indian youth and AIM families in Sioux City could attend. The AIM Chapter in Sioux CIty was one of the strongest in the country, with eight members participating in the later take over at Wounded Knee in '73.
With word getting out during the Omaha convention of the Yellow Thunder situation in Gordon, my dad "hijacked" the bus and the driver and we all took off to Billy Mills hall for a huge rally in Pine Ridge. I remember looking out the bus window in awe and amazement on the way to Gordon from Pine Ridge and seeing the hundreds of cars and miles long caravan on the way to take over the town - that lasted for one whole week. My sister Susie was the official secretary for Dennis Banks, the newly proclaimed "mayor" of Gordon. Later, my dad would become good friends with the bus driver and his family and we often would stop by their Council Bluffs, Iowa home to visit whenever we were down in that area.
Big Bob asked us in the Lodge that day that the camp be named in honor of Raymond because that AIM action in Gordon brought the urban AIM groups together in unity with the traditional reservation people. Everyone taking part in the Lodge ceremony wholeheartedly agreed that it was the perfect name.
Mathew King, the Principal Itancan for the Lakota Nation, was there during the first days of camp establishment and eventually went in to the local whiteman's deeds department to let them know he would be utilizing 800 acres of his share of Lakota Treaty Lands in any way he saw fit, and that he was using the Treaty document as the "master" of all deeds as his authorization.
Many people came to the camp the first few months and many more into the summer. By fall and the first winter, a minimum of one new person came to check out the camp. In late August that first year, the racist governor Jerklow threatened to evict the camp on September 9th.
Many of us from camp were attending a wake on the Cheyenne River Reservation when we got the news of the governor's "deadline." Bill and Russ Means, Clyde Bellecourt and a few others were standing around the cars talking about how the point of the encampment had been made and well covered by the media, and that we had done the best we could. I waited till last to speak up and said (an old Greg Zephier move), "Well I stayin'; we just go to wakes down on the rez, and all the people drinkin' and partyin' - I ain't going anywhere!" They got all fired up and decided to get hold of all the dedicated AIM people on the rez and bring up guns and ammo.
I said we have to be ready on Sept 8th cause they might come in at midnight or even before (you can never trust the government, like at Fort Snelling, MN take-over in 1971, they said they would meet at noon then came in swinging at daybreak) so everyone came up on the 7th and got into battle positions and were dug in pretty good.
Four of us went out for a late night scouting party the evening of the 8th. One was a Tselegi "Cherokee" fullblood! I remember I was so happy to meet him when he first came to Yellow Thunder, he spoke his own language and I had only met people who claimed to be Cherokee up to that point. Anyway, it was pitch black out and I remember making our way towards the "buffer group" encampment. Russ had the non-Indian supporters camping a ways up the road and they were supposed to lay in front of the tanks if they came rolling in that way in order to give us time to get ready. Well we snuck up on them and gave them quite a scare!
After we left we went down from camp along the creek when in the blackness I thought I was seeing a tiny, tiny light and said to the guys, "What is that, is that a light over there?!" As we got closer, it was a light, a campfire. As we got closer, it turned out to be a couple of white guys camping out - they were totally oblivious to what was going on! We scared the cr_p out of them too, imagine sitting around a campfire and four Indians come out of the darkness fully armed. They were innocent so we let them be.
The next day, me and my kola, Dave Little, an Oglala Lakota was one who started K.I.L.I. radio at Russ's request, were guarding up above camp on "Drum Lookout." We had a two-way radio set up there for communication into the Black Hills Alliance BHA office in Rapid City. All of the sudden, a helicopter came roaring down the canyon from the west. I had a shotgun and nine millimeter pistol and Dave had a mini 14. I had the shotgun raised and Dave the M14 while the helicopter rose slowly not 50 feet in front of us with a guy in the opened side door of the chopper with a white helmet and black ear muffs with his thumbs on a 30 caliber machine gun pointed right at us! We all pointed at each other for maybe a dozen seconds, that felt longer than that. Then the machine-gunner turned his head to the side and said to the pilot, "Let's get the hell out of here" (or something like that I imagine) and the chopper swung back and took off. That was the extent of the September 9th deadline eviction, they didn't come in and they avoided bloodshed.
It was a great experience that first year, had some spiritual experiences while there, also. Seen a blue light at night come up the path then disappear before our eyes. Seen huge red beams of light go over our heads forming a giant set of Tipi poles with a tiny star right in the middle - with a small cloud going by in the shape of a eagle head with the star where the eagle's eye was, my cousin Greg said, "Look, they built a Tipi for us!"

About the author
Scott Barta was born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa and left at nineteen years of age to find himself and uncover his indigenous Way of Life and ancient teachings, interested and intrigued with the term Grand Mother Earth. Having stayed with his cousin on his father's side, Greg Zephier, Sr., for years during his young adult life to learn from his wise and spiritual cousin the ways of "common man" Fasting, Life Renewal Lodge, and Sun Dance, while trying to understand how to be content and appreciative of Nature and All That Is - the Sky and Earth of Wakan Tanka, the Great Mysterious. He now makes his home on the Yankton DaNakota Reservation in Wagner, SD, the last home of true democracy in the world (Oyate Omniciye) and works for a children's program of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

Dirty Coal on Navajoland: Hold the media responsible

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

Navajo horseback ride to protect Black Mesa
The media, like the Navajo Nation Council, is responsible for that vote for more dirty coal energy from the Navajo Generating Station. The media has refused to tell the real story. Reporters that could have been out on Black Mesa all these years talking to the people, never bothered to go. The media was too often silenced by the advertising dollars of Peabody Coal, Navajo Generating Station, and its operator the Salt River Project.

In Arizona cities, the media was willing to push for more dirty coal energy and more destruction and disease for Navajos. The Arizona media didn't want their own electricity coming from a filthy power plant in their own backyard. They didn't mind Navajos hauling their water, while their pristine water went for coal mining and power plants. The big city reporters wanted Arizona to have a future. They didn't care if Navajos had a future.

Reporters found it easy not to go to Black Mesa. They were either co-opted by their publishers and editors or stalled by their own laziness. They were willing to publish the hoax and the spin. They were willing to spin the lies, and make senators like John McCain into heroes, pander to the Interior, ignore the backdoor deals, cater to corrupt tribal politicians, and refuse to investigate the non-Indian attorneys.

Reporters were not willing to take the risks and tell the truths that the future of the planet depends on.

Read more: AP: Navajo president OKs lease extension:

Brenda Norrell has been a reporter in Indian country for 31 years. She was a reporter for Navajo Times, during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation, and stringer for AP and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and then terminated. She created Censored News in 2006, now in its 7th year.

Chief Arvol Looking Horse's Message May 2013

Reposted with permission from Raven Redbone
'Make No Bones About It'
Photo by Mark Johns Colson

Hec'el oinipikte (that we shall live)
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the
Sacred White Buffalo Pipe

Mitakuye Oyasin!
My Grandmother shared with me a powerful time when the people came together for prayers during the Dust Bowl in the 1930's. She accepted a C'anupa to bring out the White Buffalo Calf Pipe Bundle to end the drought and bring healing to Mother Earth. Even the non-native farmers heard of this prayer time and offered a cow to feed for the ceremony. The prayer was answered!
Recently I accepted tobacco from a Grandmother – Anpao Wic'ah'pi Was'te Winyan of the Ihanktowan Oyate. She had a dream of bringing People together at the bundle to pray for a healing of the biggest cancer that is spreading upon Mother Earth; caused from the Tar Sand efforts with XL pipeline that is threatening to come through our territory and our Sacred Sites.
Our Nation who is known as the Pte Oyate (The Buffalo People) will be praying with Sacred Bundle on May 18, 2013. Please bring food for feast and tobacco offerings.
I am asking 'All Nations, All Faiths, One Prayer' to help us during this time of this gathering by praying with us on this day where ever you are upon Mother Earth.
We need to stop the desecration that is hurting Mother Earth and the communities. These recent spills of oil are affecting the blood of Mother Earth; Mni wic'oni (water of life).
Chief Bernard Ominiayak of the Lubicon Lake First Nation of Canada is also asking for prayers and to let the World know of his People¹s stand against the Development that is happening against his People. They sit on 70% of oil; those that are after this oil are threatening their lives. His concern at this moment is of non-members, without their consent, signing away their rights and negotiating with Corporations that will forever affect their way of life – to live off the land – handing them a death sentence. At this moment there are too many of their people dying from cancer. When they hunt, they are finding maggot-infested moose. When they fish they are finding two headed fish. The people are dying from trying to survive in a traditional way in their territory. The UN has submitted a statement in support of Lubicon Lake Nation's stand to live in Sovereignty and live in their tradition.
We have many concerns at this time. Along with the First Nations whose territory is within the Tar Sands desecration; with their lives being threatened and also the high death rates of cancer, along with the sickness of the land and animals.
Many other Nations are committed to praying with us on the day of our ceremony. For those that cannot attend, Chief Wic'ah'pi To Wambdi is helping with his sister¹s dream representing the Ihanktowan Oyate, by asking those that cannot attend to send him tobacco ties and flags so he can carry them for the People to the Bundle.
I have also been contacted by People who will have another gathering outside the UN at Isaiah's Wall in NYC, they are committing to support and pray with us on May 17th at noon.
In a Sacred Hoop of Life, where there is no ending and no
Hec'el oinipikte (that we shall live)
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th Generation Keeper of the
Sacred White Buffalo Pipe
For More Information:
Address of Chief Wic'ah'ipi To Wambdi, 30702 Eggers Road,
Wagner, South Dakota 5738

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