Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 6, 2018

The Birth of the Environmental Justice Movement, Dine' CARE, Dilkon, Navajo Nation, 1990



All photos provided courtesy Lori Goodman, Dine' CARE, and Bradley Angel

Photographs, 127 names, and the words of legends tell the story of the environmental justice movement that began here in Dilkon on the Navajo Nation, 28 Years Ago

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News
French translation by Christine Prat at:

DILKON, Navajo Nation -- The photos are tinged with age and the memories are fading. But there is the list -- the list of 127 names, and the words of the legends of this movement that transcend the years of struggle -- the 28 years since the environmental justice struggle began as a modern-day movement.

Chief Johnny Jackson, Cascade Klickitait, came from the Columbia River, Hopi Thomas Banyacya was present, and a delegation of Seminoles from Florida joined those fighting the toxic dumps, mining, logging, nuclear testing, uranium spills, and secret attacks on Native lands and people.
Today -- celebrating this movement at the Dine' Citizens Against Ruining our Environment's, Dine' CARE's, Peoples Convention -- we read the words of Thomas Banyacya, who delivered a message from the Hopi elders at the original gathering on June 29, 1990.
"Maybe we can take some of these uranium spillings to Washington and spread it around the White House and tell them, 'Don't worry, it is not going to hurt you,'" Banyacya said.
Now, 28 years later, Earl Tulley, Dine' CARE vice president, reflects on how the original gathering here in Dilkon gave birth to the modern-day environmental justice movement in Indian country, and how the Indigenous Environmental Network, and Honor the Earth, grew out of this original gathering.
Present here today is Adella Begaye and Robyn Jackson, the wife and daughter of Leroy Jackson. Leroy was found dead in 1993 as he fought and halted the logging of the old-growth forest in the Chuska Mountains on the Navajo Nation.
Adella today is Dine' CARE's president. Robyn was a toddler when her father was found dead. She is today Dine' CARE's energy outreach coordinator.
Dine' CARE wants to protect the land, and defend the land.
"There's a lot of work that we have to do. My father is no longer here. It is still something that has to be talked about," Robyn said.
All those years ago, Wilbur Slockish of the Columbia River Defense Project at The Dalles, Oregon, and Ray Slockish, Sr., Washington, were among those who came to speak out about fishing rights, and to stand. Many had gone to jail, and prison, for defending their fishing rights.
Louise Benally of Big Mountain was here 28 years ago, and she is here today. She has spent her life in this struggle, fighting against forced relocation, Peabody Coal, depletion of the aquifer water on Black Mesa, the dirty coal-fired power plant Navajo Generating Station lighting up southern Arizona -- and for truth and justice.
"Those big corporations lie," Louise said 28 years ago, and repeats these words today.
On the list of 127 names is Winona LaDuke of Moose Factory, Ontario, and the Indigenous Women's Network.
Harry H. Lord, Inupiat, came from the North Pole in Alaska, as they gathered 28 years ago. James Main, Sr., Gros Ventre, who has now passed to the Spirit World, came from Fort Belknap, Montana.
Chief Fraser Andrew, from Mount Currie, came from British Columbia.
Danny Billie, Seminole from Florida, came because citrus growers and sugar cane growers were clearing the land and contaminating the water. Billie said he came because he wanted to learn more about toxic incinerators poisoning the air.
During the original gathering, Paul Rodarte, Paiute Shoshone from Stillwater, Nevada, described the problem of how "economic development" was used to poison the land, water and air.
Rodarte said the highly-paid toxic waste contractors promised money and jobs, then only hired menial labor locally.
Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment
C.A.R.E. President Al Joe's words, preserved from 28 years ago, reveal the opposition they faced, as they came together, and opposed the destruction and poisoning of Native American lands.
"We've been labeled as troublemakers and activists," said Joe, who followed Jane Yazzie as C.A.R.E. president.
Lori Goodman, who grew up here in Dilkon, is among the founders of Dine' Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment. She and her sister Carol, among nine children in their family, are here today.
Lori and Carol said they grew up with parents who shared with them traditional Dine' values here. 
Lori explained how the local movement C.A.R.E burst forth after a toxic waste dump, pushed by the Navajo government, threatened Dilkon in the late 1980s. It was halted by this struggle.
Lori said C.A.R.E.'s name became Dine' CARE after the national CARE organization forced them to do so.
Lori said that the original gathering in June of 1990 was first organized to celebrate the local community in Dilkon halting the toxic dump that had been pushed by the Navajo tribal government. 
After Native Americans came together from every region, including the far north, it became clear that the toxic dumping, nuclear dumping, mining, destruction, and arrests for fishing rights, was targeting all Indian lands.
The environmental justice movement was born.
Great Legends of 1990
On the list of 127 names is Jo Ann Tall, Oglala from Porcupine on Pine Ridge, and Guy White Thunder, Lakota from Pine Ridge. Ron Hill and Clifford Cornelius came from Oneida, Wisconsin.
Chief Andrew King of the Lucky Man Band in Saskatoon, Ontario, came here with Rod King in 1990.
Suzanne Brant of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte was present.
Norman Under Baggage, Oglala, came from Kyle on Pine Ridge, Harry Chison came from Zuni Pueblo.
The Havasupai delegation included Leata Watahomigie, Rex Tilousi and family, and Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Rogers.
Joe Sanchez, Western Shoshone, came from Nevada.
Harry Chison from Zuni Pueblo was present.
Navajos surviving from the worst radioactive spill in U.S. history at Church Rock came, as the radioactive waters flowed down the Puerco wash toward Arizona, leaving a trail of cancer for Navajos and everyone who lived here. The Puerco Valley Clean Water Association in Wingate, New Mexico is among the long list of organizations on this long honor role.
Navajos were present from across the Navajo Nation and region at the original gathering.
Tom Bedonie of Big Mountain; Eugene Hasgood of Keams Canyon; Nelda Dugi of Teesto; Carol Goldsmith from Kayenta; Ted Silversmith from Church Rock; Raymond Morgan from Fort Wingate; Mary and Lisa Spencer from Winslow; Alfred Joe and Robert Joe, Sr., from Winslow, were among them.
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety -- Alva Morrison and Kristi Jo McKnight -- came from northern New Mexico, where the Los Alamos Laboratory had long poisoned the land, water and air of the Pueblos and New Mexico.
Among the frontline organizations who gathered here in 1990 was the Southwest Organizing Project in Albuquerque - Joe Madeline Montoya and Danny Pena. Chris Peters was here from the Seventh Generation Fund.
Bertha Mitchell, Hoopa, came from California. 
Navajos came from throughout the region, among those Anna Rondon.
Mike Flores, Tohono O'odham, came from the so-called southern  border, where the U.S. Border Patrol abuses the people as an "occupying army."
Laurie Weahkee of Cochiti Pueblo was here in 1990, and is again here 28 years later.
Lex Gladstone came from the National Association of Blackfeet Indians in Seattle.
Hopi/Navajo photographer Larry Gus was here.
Cate Gilles, longtime news reporter on Navajo and Hopi lands, later found dead in Tucson, was here. From the beginning, Cate reported from the frontline, on relocation. Cate was the first to adequately expose uranium mining contamination in the Grand Canyon region.
Vickie McCullough of Native Americans for a Clean Environment in Tahlequah, Oklahoma was present. Pat Moss came from Oklahoma to speak out for Native prisoners.
Viola Hatch, Cheyenne Arapaho, came from Oklahoma.
Greenpeace came from California, including Iretta Tiger, Seminole from Florida and Bradley Angel, now with Green Action, and a Greenpeace delegation from Canada.
DNA Legal Services, Public Health Nursing in Dilkon, and Navajo Preservation sent staff as well.
The Peoples Convention 2018, The Struggle Continues
Today, in 2018, Dine' Nicole Horseherder and her daughter tell of the ultimate struggle to defend water rights and protect the water. Horseherder explained how the goal of the so-called "water rights settlements' has often been a guise for non-Indians to obtain Native peoples water.
As the cooks in the camp kitchen here in Dilkon on this hot June day in 2018 prepare bluecorn meal mush and blue corn pancakes for breakfast, and fresh salads and fruits, Dine' youth farmer Nate Etcitty and Roberto Nutlouis of Black Mesa Water Coalition, share news on food sustainability, permaculture and dry farming.
Herb Yazzie, former Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation, speaks of Hweeldi, The Treaty of 1868, and The Sovereign Thread. Yazzie speaks of those Who Stand.
Sam Sage, Dine', describes how Dine' are fighting fracking, and the cancer, poisonous emissions, loud noise, and violent man camps that are a result of oil and gas drilling in the Greater Chaco Region and on the Eastern Navajo Nation.
Dine' CARE's Eastern People's Convention is coming up, June 21 -- 23, in Counselor and Lybrook New Mexico. 
The struggle continues.
Listen to our live coverage June 1 -- 3, 2018
Listen to the founders of Dine' CARE remember what made a difference, in English, with some speakers in Dine'. Video below  recorded live by Govinda Dalton, Spirit Resistance Radio, June 3, 2018, in Dilkon.
Brenda Norrell, publisher of Censored News, was among the reporters covering the original gathering in Dilkon in June, 1990, and again reporting live from the June, 2018 gathering. In 1990, she was a reporter for The Associated Press living in the Chuska Mountains on the Navajo Nation.
Richard Sitts of The Gallup Independent was among those providing news coverage of the gathering in 1990.
Listen below as Govinda and I read the of legends gathered here in 1990, at the Peoples Convention in 2018.

DINE CARE Members of the All-Navajo Board of Directors

President: Adella Begaye, Wheatfields, Arizona
Vice President: Earl Tulley, Blue Gap, Arizona
Treasurer: Lori Goodman, Durango, Colorado
Coordinator/Director: Carol Davis, Dilkon, Arizona
Energy Outreach Coodinator: Robyn Jackson
Lawendra Atsitty, Bloomfield, New Mexico
Dailan J. Long, Burnham, New Mexico
Kim Smith, St. Michaels, Arizona
Anna Frazier, Dilkon, Arizona
Mario Atencio, Torreon, New Mexico
Contact Information
Phone: 928-221-7859

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Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News, may not be reproduced without permission. Content may not be used for any revenue producing projects or published projects without permission.
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1 comment:

Unknown said...

seems like yesterday and so long ago. Happy we have so many that are still carrying the work. Sad that so many from those pics are gone.