Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 23, 2014

Traditional Dine' educate University of Arizona on water rights

Photos by Ed Becenti, published with permission

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photos Louise Benally and Marshall Johnson at UofA by Ed Becenti

TUCSON -- When the University of Arizona in Tucson invited a water rights attorney who is protested by Dine', traditional Dine' made the long journey from the northern part of the state to southern Arizona to both protest the selection of the attorney to speak and to educate the university about Dine' water rights and true sovereignty. 
Louise Benally of Big Mountain (above) was among the speakers. Benally's family has resisted forced relocation since the 1970s. The so-called Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute was actually orchestrated by an attorney working for Peabody Coal. The scheme was designed to remove Navajos from their homelands to make way for Peabody's coal mines on Black Mesa. More than 14,000 Navajos were relocated to make way for the coal mines. Some elderly died of broken hearts after being removed from their homelands.

Today, the State of Arizona, Arizona Congressmen and the United States government are relentless in their attempts to steal both Navajo and Hopi water rights. The water is sought to water the unsustainable desert cities in southern Arizona -- Phoenix and Tucson -- and to provide water for the dirty coal industry's Navajo Generating Station. It uses Peabody coal, Mother Earth's liver, from Black Mesa. 
The coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation near Page, Ariz., supplies electricity to southern Arizona and uses enormous amounts of water, while polluting the region and causing sickness for Navajos and others in the Southwest.
Meanwhile, most Navajos in the area live without electricity and are forced to drive long distances to haul their water.
Navajos speaking at the University of Arizona protested the selection of Stanley Pollack, hired by the Navajo Nation government as the tribe's water rights attorney. Dine' said Pollack is not serving the best interests of Navajos. The elected Navajo Nation government continues to sign leases with the dirty coal industry, and recently purchased a coal mine.

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