August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, February 17, 2018

The Desert Tortoise on Sacred Land: Celebrating Victory at Ward Valley, 20 Years Later

BLM officials (far left) sent to evict activists. Wally Antone (Quechan), right; AIM member (far right), Feburary 13, 1998. | Photo: Greenaction  
Quechan Lightning Singers and dancers at front line of occupiers blocking police from entering Ward Valley, February 13, 1998. | Photo: Greenaction.



Activists holding the line at Ward Valley occupation, 1998. | Photo: Molly P. Johnson.

Article by Brenda Norrell

Seated in the shade of a Mohave Tribal School bus, Dennis Scott spoke of the Turtle Land and the tortoises that silently passed in the noonday sun.

"I'm Mohave. This is our sacred land. It has been for thousands of years. That is the name of our village, Silaye Aheace," he said, pointing to the name on the sign at the camp's entrance.
Silaye Aheace is the Mohave name for mesquite. The resident tribal elder represented the tribes of the Colorado River here and was among those occupying the desert in protest of the proposed nuclear waste dump.
For those who said it is merely wasteland, Scott quietly and reverently responded, "Oh, but there is so much out here."

Beneath the hot sand is a pristine aquifer, the size of Lake Tahoe, and the surface is the home of the endangered desert tortoise.
"Some are no bigger than a Coke can. I saw five of them, without radio transmitters," he said, referring to the transmitters used in an environment study.
With the only sounds coming from distant aircraft above the bare desert mountains, Scott was surrounded by creosote, yucca, cholla, mesquite and ironwood.

"I like the quiet. I like solitude. Most of the time I like being by myself."
The land is ancestral Mohave land and the tortoises have been here for millions of years. In this Turtle Land, spirit trails or running paths of Colorado River tribal runners remain.
In the choking heat that sears to around 120 degrees in summer, Scott maintained the site without running water or other comforts. The solitude of the site was sometimes shattered by four-wheel riders intent on destroying desert land or turtle hunters seeking cooking ingredients in violation of federal law.
But the greatest threat was the proposed nuclear waste dump, which Scott said threatened to ruin the waters of the Colorado River and pristine ground aquifer. Scott said
the transport of nuclear waste endangered the safety of all life forms along the highways of transport.


Written in 1998, this interview was during the Occupation of Ward Valley, that halted the proposed nuclear waste dump.

This series at Censored News:

The Rhythmic Journey Home: Birdsingers ensured victory at Ward Valley
https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-rhythmic-journey-home-birdsingers.html
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.
https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2018/02/laguna-pueblo-dorothy-purley-exposed.html

Article copyright Brenda Norrell

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



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(Photo 1)  Corbin Harney, Western Shoshone, Wally Antone, Quechan and Lleweyllen Barrackman, Fort Mojave. (Photo 2) Curly Has Two Feathers Walks Alone, Navajo leading the morning circle.  Curly was our fire keeper. (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
PBS
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 the nature. Nature Way of life is the only way we are going to survive here.My name’s Corbin Harney. I was born in Idaho, 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 the 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 lango, 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’s really important.
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In 1998, an 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 cancelled 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
https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-rhythmic-journey-home-birdsingers.html
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.

https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2018/02/laguna-pueblo-dorothy-purley-exposed.html

Article copyright Brenda Norrell

PINE RIDGE -- Celebrating Young Social Change Makers, Gathering on the Homeland









CELEBRATING YOUNG SOCIAL CHANGE MAKERS OF YESTERDAY and TODAY

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION, South Dakota
The "Gathering on the Homeland: Solidarity, Decolonization and Celebrating Acts of Resistance" is a two-day event being held in the heart of native resistance in Indian Country, the Oglala Lakota Nation.

"Along with the beauty and power of 10,000 people coming together in 2016 along the riverbanks at Cannon Ball, ND we experienced the chaos that emerged, as it became apparent that the understanding of MOVEMENT was as diverse as the people gathered there. We have brought together folks from many Red Nations and allies from the four directions who have led, founded, and/or participated in movements in order to examine, explore, and discuss how their experience can teach young emerging social change makers, community leaders, students, families, and our youth," stated Debra White Plume, Co-Organizer and Director of Owe Aku.

The gathering, in conjunction with the 45th Anniversary of the 1973 Liberation of Wounded Knee, is scheduled for February 24th a25th at Wounded Knee District School in Manderson. 
Surviving veterans of the occupation of Wounded Knee, along with the decendants of Wounded Knee veteran activists will celebrate 45 years of modern resistance against the injustices brought by colonial oppressors throughout Turtle Island. The annual Four-Direction Walk to the Wounded Knee Massacre Site will start at 10 a.m. on February 27th.  The Independent Oglala Nation Powwow and meal will follow the walk at Wounded Knee District School in Manderson, SD.

"Native artists from California and Arizona will host a youth workshop to create art that teaches not only art skills, but the philosophy of art and the preservation of ancient life ways. There are also a number of native musicians coming to perform a free youth concert who promote an alcohol/drug free lifestyle as well as using music to inspire youth to reclaim their ancestral identities," added White Plume.

Dine'/Oglala/Omaha rap artist Nataanii Means, The Peace Poets of Bronx, NYC, Annishinabe singer/songwriter Tracy Bone and other artists to be announced are scheduled to perform. A range of activities are featured at the event. The schedule includes:

February 24th:
 Noon:                         "GuREALIa Media on the Frontline"
Panel includes: Rose Stiff Arm (Canada), Lorenzo Serna (Black Snake Killaz), Rosebud White Plume (Lakota Media Project)
                                    4 Film Reviews & 4 Film Makers
                                    Do's and Don'ts on the front line
                                    Discussions/Q&A
                                    Indigenous Resistance Media Caucus
                                    Native Artist in Action- Resistance Art Workshop for Youth
7 pm-11 pm:               "Sounds of Resistance" Youth Concert (free admission)
February 25th:
Noon:                          "What is Movement?"
Panel includes: Nina Waste' (co-founder of Idle No More), Kim Smith & Nakai (Dine' Activists), Mark Tilsen (SR Oceti Sakowin Camp), Tyrell Iron Shell (Int'l Indigenous Youth Council), Deja Red Cloud (SR Oceti Sakowin Camp)
                                    Panel Discussion
                                    Indigenous Women's Caucus
The Peace Poets, Tracy Bone and other artists were confirming at press time. 
February 27TH:           
10 am:                         Four Direction Walk, Horse Ride and Caravan into Wounded Knee
                                    Independent Oglala Nation Pow Wow @ W.K.D.S.

Gathering on the Homeland event is sponsored by Owe Aku and Red Robin Hood Fund.  Contact coordinator Olowan Martinez at (605) 407-1381, Debra White Plume at (605) 454-2105 or visit www.oweakuinternational.org for more information.
Four-direction walk & powwow, contact AIM Grassroots at (605) 381-3535 or Iva Black Elk at (605) 441-6657.

"The more dependent you become on centralized power, the more easily you are led around."- Russell Means (Oglala Lakota).


Laguna Pueblo Dorothy Purley Exposed Nuclear Holocaust on Native Lands, in Censored 'Trespassing' Film




Dorothy Purley's words will again ring out as one victory is celebrated in the Mojave Desert at Ward Valley

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News

Before her death from cancer, Laguna Pueblo uranium miner Dorothy Purley, exposed how the Anaconda Jackpile uranium mine sent Pueblos to their deaths, working in the uranium mines without protective clothing.

Dorothy's words still ring out in the film Trespassing, which will be shown during the Ward Valley Commemoration Feb. 23 -- 24, 2018.
Native American Nations -- Mojave, Chemehuevi, Cocopah, Quechan, and Colorado Indian Tribes -- halted a nuclear waste dump. The nearly four month occupation in 1998 at Ward Valley in the Mojave Desert, protected sacred land, home to the endangered desert tortoise. The American Indian Movement served as the security.
The film Tespassing was censored in most theaters after its release in 2005. The film tells the story of the nuclear holocaust in Indian country. It includes Western Shoshone Spiritual Leader Corbin Harney speaking on the genocidal ecocide of the Nuclear Test Site on Western Shoshone land.
Dorothy awakened Native communities to truth and her voice rang out around the world. She was among those who gathered in Tucson to create the Indigenous Alliance without Borders in 1997.
Today, Dorothy's words are timeless, as new threats are on every horizon, globally and in Indian country.
The old threats remain as strewn radioactive tailings remain scattered on Indian lands, from Pueblo and Navajo lands to Lakota lands, and in the Northwest.
Dorothy passed to the Spirit World Dec. 2, 1999, at her home in Paguate.
Many others have passed to the Spirit World who appear in the film Trespassing, Llewellyn Barrackman, Betty Barrackman, Basil Fass, Fort Mojave, Mamie Harper, Colorado River Indian Tribes, Corbin Harney and Bill Rosse, both Western Shoshone.
Dorothy's words in Trespassing:
DOROTHY PURLEY
People should be aware that it could be happening in your part of your country. We're not the only ones that are in this situation.
Dorothy Purley, former Uranium Miner, Laguna Pueblo , New Mexico
A lot of people across are having the same problems. And I think we should really, truly find out, you know, if you're being, um, poisoned in an, in any way, especially through this radiation. I think that a lot of us are being aware of right now of what's going on. Way back, you know, it was kind of hard, not being well-educated, not knowing what to expect.
DOROTHY PURLEY
When they used to blast, all that yellow stuff would come towards the village. You know, we Native Indians have the things like drying food out in the sun, and, (stammers) our meats and stuff. And yet, we breathed it and ate it. And, you know, we weren't aware of it. I feel betrayed because we weren't really told. We weren't really made aware of what we were getting ourselves into. I think if the mine hadn't opened, I don't think any of our lives would have been in jeopardy at all.
DOROTHY PURLEY
They've destroyed enough of our land, and that's all they're out, is, they mean to destroy other, other Native American land, you know. That's why, that's what I'm gonna say. Why are they doing this? Are they trying to get rid of us? I don't think that's fair.




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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 http://mondoweiss.net/2018/02/extracting-organizing-palestine/amp/?__twitter_impression=true the sacred land of Ward Valley. The occupation ended in victory when the U.S. Department of the Interior rescinded the eviction notice and cancelled 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, Censored News

More:
Proposed hazardous waste dump on sacred land at Ward Valley, California, was halted by the occupation and lawsuits.
http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/ward.html

Statement at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference The Hague, Holland, May 1999
Dorothy Purley
Laguna-Acoma Coalition
(Delivered by Carletta Garcia)
Good Afternoon,
It is an honor to visit your beautiful country. My name is Dorothy Purley. I am a Native American Pueblo Indian form the United States of America. I live in the Southwest region called New Mexico.
I live on an Indian reservation where the U.S. government forced my ancestors to live so many years ago. The early European settlers forced us off our lands and claimed them for their own. We were finally placed in areas that were usually uninhabitable. What the government did not realize was that these areas were rich in natural resources. The community where I live in is called the Laguna Pueblo. It is where the world’s largest open pit uranium mine once was.
In 1935 when the mine first opened, it was truly a godsend to my poor native people. We have always lived in poverty, which seems to be a government standard for Native American Indians. The money that was earned enabled us to feed our families and for the first time and to, become independent. Yes, times were good back then. But, what the government forgot to tell us was that the uranium was dangerous and would become hazardous to our health. They did not tell us that it would also bring death and destruction to others.
Our health was not only the only thing that was in jeopardy at that time. The explosives that they used to dismantle the uranium caused our homes to become unsafe. Our village was just 1000 feet from the mining area. We could smell the sulfur and other blasting compounds that they used in their explosives. They usually conducted their blasts during our noontime and evening meals, when our village women would dry their fruit and vegetable during the harvest season. A fine layer of dust would cover our food, but we simply rinsed it off not knowing that it was toxic.
In 1975 I became an employee at the Anaconda Uranium mine. I was now a single parent and had to support my daughter. I was employed as a truck driver and hauled high grade uranium ore to the milling site. I was exposed to high amounts of radiation and did not know this at that time. We would eat our lunches while sitting atop of the high grade ore. We were never advised of any safety techniques or given any safety equipment at the time.
During my employment at the time, I never realized that there was any danger and was never advised about any of the harmful effects of radiation. They never told us that they were going to use this uranium to make a weapon of mass destruction. The company never gave us any information whatsoever. Just recently, our tribe has learned that the government and the mining operation knew about the danger that mining uranium ore would bring. As early as 1935 when the mine first opened, there were documents from scientists warning them to minimize exposure to the uranium ore. It said that people should not be exposed more than two weeks without potential harm. I worked at the mine for eight years. Some of my people retired after thirty years at the mine.
Today my people on the Laguna reservation are suffering from numerous effects of radiation poisoning. We have seen a rise in mental and physical abnormalities. Our cancer rate is rapidly increasing. I myself have been fighting cancer for 6 years now. I have gone through high dose chemotherapy on three different occasions. I am again in remission for the time being. When I am in better health, I travel as much as possible. I try to help people understand that there is extreme danger where there is radiation. I use myself and my family as example of what can happen.
Just recently my daughter’s husband was diagnosed with a rare skin cancer.
Although he never worked at the uranium mine he was exposed to radiation in many ways. His older brother worked for the underground mine, and dust from his clothing would contaminate their household. My son-in-law also lived next to the railroad which carried the radioactive high grade ore to the mill site. The distance of 60 miles or more along side the tracks is still highly contaminated to this day. Many more of my people will become ill with cancer and other rare diseases as time goes on. I pray every day that such devastation will never again occur on my beautiful sacred lands.
My greatest hope is that mankind will realize that we need to keep our Earth Mother as healthy as we can. I know that there are better ways to produce power by using solar energy, the wind and water. These are natural powers which our Great Spirit has given. We were meant to use these. By doing this we will keep ourselves healthy and have a peaceful existence.
I strongly believe that we do not need any more nuclear weapons. There are never any winners of war, only victims. We do not need anymore deaths and destruction in our world. We have had enough already. The only true way to live is through peace and harmony. My hope is that by sharing my story, that it will inspire others to make better decisions for themselves and their loves ones. I wish you long life, peace and happiness. Thank you.
3 December 1999
It is with a heavy heart that I write to inform friends and other activists of Dorothy Purley's death last night.
Dorothy, whose family and community have been devastated by weapons and power related uranium mining in New Mexico, died of congestive heart failure after being hospitalized for several weeks. Dorothy had struggled against aggressive cancers and the nuclearism that caused them by meeting and speaking with people across the United States, and she took her clear and powerful message to Europe and Japan.
We were privileged to include Dorothy in the Global Hibakusha delegation to the Hague Appeal for Peace conference and to be able to share her with New England peace activists last August. When hospitalization due to cancer prevented her from traveling to the Hague, her daughter Carletta Garcia came in her place and read Dorothy's statement which appears above. And, when she was well enough to travel again, she joined us in New England.


Link 


This series at Censored News:

The Rhythmic Journey Home: Birdsingers ensured victory at Ward Valley
https://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-rhythmic-journey-home-birdsingers.html
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.

Censored News. Copyrights by each author and the filmmakers.

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