Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 11, 2016

What the Frack? BLM Walks out on Dine' at Shiprock

Chaco Canyon is targeted with fracking.

Bureau of Land Management walks out on Dine' at Shiprock

By Rebecca Sobel
Climate and energy Senior Campaigner
Wild Earth Guardians
November 10, 2016

SHIPROCK, N.M., NAVAJO NATION -- Today, at the first of eight Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) scoping meetings, agency officials walked out on community members attempting to give public comment. Held at Shiprock Chapter House, BLM hosted informational tables encircling the community room, and instructed attendees to give public comment at one of their many tables. 
Shiprock Chapter President, Chili Yazzie greeted his community and informed the crowd he had no prior consultation with BLM or BIA officials other than the scheduled use of the Chapter House meeting space. He invited chapter members to share their comments in front of the community when BLM Farmington Field Office Manager Richard Fields informed Mr. Yazzie that public comment in this form would not be accepted.

After Mr. Yazzie explained the culture of chapter community meetings, he handed the mic over to a young woman who shared her experience living in proximity to 4 fracking wells as BLM officials picked up their tabling materials and walked out of the room. Fifteen minutes later, Navajo Nation police entered.
The Huerfano scoping meeting is set for 3 PM this afternoon, and we will see if it continues on schedule. Regardless, what is evident is that BLM is not only allowing the oil and gas industry to run roughshod over Navajo communities, this latest attempt at public engagement via scoping meetings at chapter houses is an exercise in lip service - BLM has demonstrated that they will only pay attention to Indigenous voices on their own terms. If Natives don't abide by BLM's orders - even on their own land - the federal agency will turn a deaf ear.
Below are some statements collected from those at today's scoping meeting. Please let me know if you have any questions.
"For too long were have been manipulated and lectured by the federal government and its agencies as to how we conduct ourselves and how we respond to their rules. There must be a time when we do not allow this kind of intrusion on our own lands. If we are to make valid comment to the discussions that they want present there needs to be some mutual understanding of what the intent is, what the process will be. There needs to be acknowledgement and respect for our ways of life and mannerisms here on our own lands. If they are not respectful they are not welcome here.
We didn't invite them. They invited themselves. It is our land so at least a part of this public process should be on our terms."
-- Duane "Chili" Yazzie, Shiprock Chapter President,
"These agency officials only live 25 miles away and they are in Navajo country. You would think they'd consult with local officials before holding meetings in our Chapter Houses. It speaks volumes to their intent and the way they've been operating."
- Lori Goodman, Executive Director, Diné C.A.R.E,
"I support the first amendment and this was an open invitation on both sides to hear about fracking our lands. But, once a community member wanted to express their valid concerns, BLM shut it down. So, it shows you the mindset of where BIA and BLM stand. Once they get the sense of being in an environment beyond their control, they're going to shut it down. What's more dangerous than an Indigenous person speaking up for their rights and sovereignty?
This is the first time I've been able to see how checkerboarded the area is when it comes to grazing, and the water and well sites people use. This is the first time I've seen the map for these fracking pipelines. Pipelines will leak. It is a danger to the community. We undertand that this will create jobs but we have to draw the line somewhere and say enough is enough. This is our only opportunity when BLM and BIA are present to listen, and they refuse to."
- Chuck Haven, local resident,
"The fact that the Chapter President asked that public comments be verbal and BLM ignored the request is disrespectful.  Just the fact that on one hand, we asked for a change in the schedule because the meeting scheduled on November 12 is the same day as Jemez Feast Day and the majority of residents from Counselor and Nageezi Chapters will be over there. And now, because the federal officials left, are they in violation of their own laws? Previously they said they couldn't change the date of the Counselor and Nageezi meetings because of their laws for notice in the federal registrar. Don't their laws also require them to hold the meetings they scheduled? We still have Navajo residents here that certainly wanted to make comment but now that BLM left, that can't happen."
- Daniel Tso, former Torreon Council Delegate,
"I came here to be in opposition toward fracking because of cultural preservation. Promises are being broken. Sacred sites and livelihoods are being trampled. I see it happen in North Dakota, and it's also happening here. It's heartbreaking."


Lori Nuvayestewa said...

This is just disgraceful! I am Hopi and the Hopi people have ties to Chaco Canyon & surrounding areas. Our migration stories are there, our ancestors are there. When is this desecration of the land for money, greed & profit going to stop!?!? If people keep taking & taking from Mother Earth we as a people will be no longer. We need to remember we are the caretakers of this land, we are the people of this land & we need to preserve what is left for our future generations. This saddens me & i pray these people see past the greed & connect back to humanity.
Askwali/thank you....

Anonymous said...

Always much appreciation for all the local reporting Brenda Norrell does for all our relatives. Am requesting a reprint of this article so it can be sent to state representatives and senators of new mexico which have been friendly to our community advocacy. Of course, you could also decide to send it to all of them by sending it to: NM State Webmaster's email: . I also request permission to send by email to nearly 100 personal friends and relatives, some from nations other than chicano, and who do support Standing Rock and Indigenous rights to lands and self-determination. Deeply appreciative of all being done and unity of our peoples. Todos Primos = All Relations, margarita sanchez, belen, n.m. mil gracias

Censored News, publisher Brenda Norrell said...

Thanks Margaret. Sent a text copy to you. Best, Brenda,Censored News

~SYN~ said...

CORRUPTION from our GOV'T officials are Outrageous! BLM just likes to continue to do things behind the communities Back along with the Corporations!& don't want to Answer to No One for their Cowardly Actions! #CorporateGreed #CorporateTerrorists Over American Citizens!
#ProtectOurMother #ProtectOurSacred #StopEnvironmentalGenocide #StopCuturalGenocide #HonorOurTreaties

gbossa said...

The level of corruption exhibited by Federal and State government agencies is truly breathtaking. If you set out to plan, design and implement the most corrupt system of power you could possibly have, you'd be pretty hard pressed to do better than what we have now. It is the definition of total corruption. It has no legitimacy whatsoever, and we should treat through the lens of that reality.

Anonymous said...

Very poor behavior for BLM & BIA to walk out of meeting with
DINE' community members!
The DINE' people are gracious, and good people.
DINE' community members have the right to speak and be heard by BLM & BIA. Many of these meetings are staged. The BLM/ VIA organizers only want certain people to speak and only want them to say what BLM wants for their agenda.
No freedom to speak is Wrong!
Something else; way to lie is they write down different words to suit them than what people actually say. Change voice recordings too. Censorship.
!!Free Speech for the people!!

Anonymous said...