Response to Navajo Times article, "Men Protest Fracking Near Buffalo Pass"
By Bobby Leonard Mason
Buffalo Pass/Roof Butte, 9/21/17
First of all, WE, are not protesting. To protest is to make a statement expressing disapproval of something. Believe me, we are way beyond protest. What we are doing, in our heart and spirit, with prayer, is protecting the land and our relatives, which means to keep them safe from harm or injury; to restrict by law access to or development of (land) so as to preserve its natural state; by all means necessary.
Let’s be clear about this, my intentions, before you go getting the story twisted, are to get the voice of our local elders heard. We want to create a platform where we can all voice our opposition. We are the ones who are living (dying) with the consequences of these extraction methods. If scientific proof is what you want, I urge that assessments be done with more studies to follow. Also, look to the methane cloud, 2,500 sq. miles, hanging over the four corners region of the southwest. Look at other fracking sites, look at the many “unintentional and undocumented accidents,” many of which involves workers and could be fatal.
I, Bobby Leonard Mason, with the help of a few people took action and called out to our local community to confront an oil and gas crew I heard to be fracking near Buffalo Pass of the Chuska Mountains. To no surprise, we only found a company production manager, Gary Wooten, and contracted company employees from M&R Trucking, who were hauling water and water tanks. I’d like to acknowledge our brother Chris for taking a stand on the Red Valley side of Buffalo Pass known as Roof Butte. Thank you for the continued work you do and your support.
I’d like to acknowledge a few documents as well which I strongly believe are important to this cause: the Treaty of 1868, The United Nation’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP), and a newly passed Lukachukai Chapter Resolution.
The Treaty of 1868, between us Dine and the United Stated of America, which is an international agreement between two sovereign entities, and is also a binding contract between our two nations; remember that in order to come in to treaty negotiations, sovereignty must recognized by both parties. Treaties are law of the land.
Article 2 of this treaty states:
…this reservation, shall be, and the same is hereby, set apart for the use and occupation of the Navajo tribe of Indians, and for such other friendly tribes or individual Indians as from time to time they may be willing, …and the United States agrees that no persons except those herein so authorized to do, and except such officers, soldiers, agents, and employees of the government, or of the Indians, as may be authorized to enter upon Indian reservations in discharge of duties imposed by law, or the orders of the President, shall ever be permitted to pass over, settle upon, or reside in, the territory described in this article.
The UN DRIP, a document created to address and correct Human Rights issues directly affecting Indigenous Peoples; Affirming that Indigenous Peoples are equal to all other Peoples and; Re-affirming we should be free of any discrimination; supporting reorganizing efforts and rights confirmed in Treaties welcoming Indigenous Peoples to organize politically, socially, economically, as well as culturally.
Articles 25 states:
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.
Article 26 states:
1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned, occupied or otherwise used or acquired.
2. Indigenous peoples have the right to own, use, develop and control the lands, territories and resources that they possess by reason of traditional ownership or other traditional occupation or use, as well as those which they have otherwise acquired.
3. States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. Such recognition shall be conducted with due respect to the customs, traditions and land tenure systems of the indigenous peoples concerned.
We demand this Document be recognized by our local Tribal Government as well as the United States of America.
Passed September 21st in the Lukachukai Chapter,
Resolution of the Lukachukai Chapter,
Opposing Resource Extraction (hydraulic fracturing and mining of radioactive materials) – in and around the community of Lukachukai, not limited to the areas of the Lukachukai/Chuska Mountains.
Now therefore let it be resolved:
Lukachukai Chapter hereby adopts the resolution: Opposing Resource Extraction (hydraulic fracturing and mining of radioactive material); and
Lukachukai Chapter will support surrounding Chapter Governments to oppose further expansion of resource extraction companies which are/or not operating on lands held in trust by the Federal Government for the Navajo Nation.
We challenge our Tribal Government to recognize our True Sovereignty, granted to us by our Diiyin and solidified in our Fundamental Laws.
We challenge our Tribal Government to enforce our Treaty Rights agreed upon by our chosen ancestral Headmen who were chosen to speak on behalf of the People, who truly want to be recognized.
We challenge our Tribal Government to hear the cries and worries of our elders, our relatives in need; to hear the voices of those yet to be born as well as our past ancestors. What do you think they, the unborn as well as the ancestors, would have to say about how we are living today?
Our elders opposed this desecration of our ancestral, sacred homelands in past only to have their voices neglected and their disapproval ignored. We have begun to occupy our traditional camps to let our relatives understand that we are still the keepers of the land, to protect and preserve for the coming generations. The industrial resource extraction machine is not only a complex, in a traditional sense, it is a monster, destroying our lives. So we are obligated to do what is necessary to ensure our cultural survival.
To the Navajo Times, you have a chance to open a dialogue between the People, the Tribal officials, the Federal Government and the corporations raping the land and making decisions, with or without the People’s consultation or agreement. You have a chance to share the concerns and the voice of the People, which has been ignored for over half a century. People who live and depend on the land have been noticing and living (dying) with the consequences. It is not hard to explain the illnesses when there are studies linking resource extraction processes to them. Illnesses such as: Cancer, Diabetes, Birth Defects, Kidney Disease and so much more…. Cancer is the number 1 killer of Dine Peoples. If you don’t believe me, you do the research. So I question, if helium is all they say are “fracking” for, why is it such a mystery to the local people, including our elected Chapter Officials? But, a source tells me otherwise, that there is oil being extracted in a few areas. So if you want to tell us that fracking helium is safer, than what is safer than safer.
Meanwhile, one of your “journalist,” Cindy Yurth, worked on a story published in last week’s publication, “Men Protest Fracking near Buffalo Pass.” I was amazed that she could get these “facts” from the company when I couldn’t get a straight answer or cooperation from a work crew we confronted at the beginning of the month. We were actually treated with a racist/patriarchal attitude. When I told production manager, “I am Dine.” He repeated it back to me with a childlike, condescending tone. He also told me that this was his land, referring to the Chuska Mountains. Not even the company’s land but his land. I was criticized and had bad language used against me. I was even assaulted when a truck backed into me. I wasn’t injured so that’s that. I see her interview with the CEO of the company coming off as a bit white privileged, I see a bit of systematic prejudice towards our cause, I also sense a bit of bias from a reporter who is supposed to report all the facts. Instead, she bought and sold a lie, a story on how this type of (helium) fracking, “yes and no,” is safe for us and the land…!” We have the opposite to say, “Any and all Resource Extraction is not safe, and time will prove it…”
This issue will continue to be controversial. We will continue to oppose the further desecration and continuing encroachment on our home territories. They will continue to tell us it is safe, while we notice the changes in our surroundings and in nature, none of which are good. We will continue to look for the truth hidden behind empty words spoken by these professional liars.
Ban resource extraction on Dine Lands NOW!!!!
Bobby Leonard Mason, Defend Dinetah