Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 17, 2018

Celebrating Victory at Ward Valley: Western Shoshone Corbin Harney 'Sing to the Water'


(Photo 1)  Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone, Wally Antone, Quechan and Llewellyn Barrackman Fort Mojave. (Photo 2) Curly Has Two Feathers Walks Alone, Navajo leading the morning circle.  Curly was our firekeeper. (Photo 3) Bird Singers and Dancers from Fort Mojave.  (Photo 4) Group picture of the people that were camped at Ground Zero. -- Photos by Molly Johnson

Twenty years ago, the Occupation of Ward Valley halted a proposed nuclear waste dump on sacred land, home to the Desert Tortoise. The upcoming celebration will recall this victory and those who stood for the land, air and water. We remember the words of Western Shoshone Spiritual leader Corbin Harney.

Corbin Harney: 'Sing to the Water'
The Water Song

My people always have said to me from the beginning of my life, as I remember, to do, to take care of what’s out here, what’s out there on the land. All those things, we have to have ceremonies for. Those are the reasons why I’ve been trying to teach my people, not only my people but the people that survive on all this land. To teach them we have to really start talking to nature. Nature's Way of life is the only way we are going to survive here.

My name’s Corbin Harney. I was born in Idaho, and raised in Idaho and Nevada both. Roamed the country.

“Naraborochi”, that’s in my words, that’s water. Water is something that’s really, we have to appreciate. Those are the reasons why we have to sing about those things, cause if it wasn’t for water, there would be no life on this earth. We have to sing to ‘em, sing to the life of the water, the spirit of the water and so forth. So the water can be happier, the water can continue to flow. We have to make that water spirit at least as happy as can be.

I’m asking the water to continue to flow over the land to give water to all living things.

That’s singing about all the living things on this—that all we are is trickling over our mother earth. “Banoso”, in my language, that’s our mother. Our mother is the one that we’re circling on, everything on this earth. That’s what it’s about, “wanonoawatee”, “wanososhy”, we all are rotating with our mother. So that’s what it is. So everything appreciates each other, we’re supposed to. Appreciating each other, working together, doing things together, living on this mother earth together. We have to appreciate it. It’s really important.


In 1998, a historic 113-day occupation of the proposed dumpsite by the Five River Tribes (Fort Mojave, Chemehuevi, Quechan, Cocopah, and Colorado River Indian Tribes) along with environmental activist were assembled at the site to fight and stop the proposed Ward Valley nuclear waste dump. The 113-day occupation prevented federal police from entering the site as well as prevented the test drilling for the dump that would have desecrated the sacred land of Ward Valley. The occupation ended in victory when the U.S. Department of the Interior rescinded the eviction notice and canceled test drilling. On November 2, 1999, the Interior Department terminated all actions regarding the Ward Valley dump proposal, which officially ended the extensive conflict.
The proposed dump, which would have been in the center of eight wilderness areas, amidst of critical habitat for the threatened desert tortoise, enclosed by the pristine golden canyons and cave paintings of the Old Woman Mountains, and east of the foothills of the Stepladder Mountains that remain covered in a forest of cholla cacti was utterly eliminated by the coordinated effort of dedicated Native and non-native people joined together for the love of Mother Earth. -- Molly Johnson, Censored News

This series at Censored News:

The Rhythmic Journey Home: Birdsingers ensured victory at Ward Valley
Mojave Steve Lopez: Ward Valley halted Nuclear Genocide, Poisoning of Colorado River
The Desert Tortoise on Sacred Land, Celebrating the 20-Year Victory at Ward Valley
Celebrating Victory at Ward Valley: Corbin Harney 'Sing to the Water'
Laguna Pueblo Dorothy Purley Exposed Nuclear Holocaust on Native Lands. Featured in widely-censored Trespassing film to be shown at Ward Valley Celebration, Feb. 23-24, 2018.

Article copyright Brenda Norrell

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