Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 16, 2021

Navajos search for water, while tribe pursues more mining

Photo by Bitahnii Wilson: Waiting for water, when springs dry up

Navajos search for water, while tribe pursues more mining

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
June 16, 2021

The Navajo Nation Council's Resource Committee is pursuing more mining -- as Indigenous around the world risk their lives, and arrest, to stop mining.

Already there are the carcasses of power plants, coal mines, oil and gas fields, and strewn radioactive tailings from uranium mining, on the Navajo Nation.

While the tribal government pursues more mining, Dine' search for water as streams dry up and pumps are broken and in disrepair.

Photo by Bitahnii Wilson: Waiting for water and finding out there is none

Bitahnii Wilson said Tuesday, "Some of our Navajo Springs are going dry due to the drought and climate changes. We're definitely seeing and experiencing on the Navajo Nation."

"Yesterday we waited over two hours to get some water,  but when it was our turn, there was no more water flowing out."

The Navajo government received more than $2.5 billion in federal relief funds in the past year.

While Dine' struggle to find water, the Navajo government received $714 million in federal CARES Act funds, for emergency relief, in June 2020.

Then, last month, in May, the Navajo government received another $1.8 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act.

Still, for many, there is no water.

Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation Council's Resource Committee pursued new helium mining this week.

The Resource Committee had on its agenda this week, in receiving reports: 
"Report – Helium Opportunity & Context of Operating Agreement -- Presenter: James McClure, CEO-Navajo Oil and Gas Company and Others."

The Resource Committee members are Rickie Nez, Chairperson; Thomas Walker, Jr., Vice-Chairperson, Wilson Stewart, Jr., Herman M. Daniels, Mark A. Freeland, Kee Allen Begay, Jr.

Secret deal to buy bankrupt Remington Arms

In June 2020 during the pandemic -- when Dine' needed water, food and health care at their homes -- a secret deal was underway for the Navajo Nation government to purchase bankrupt Remington Arms for $300 million.

Money flowed to a contracted firm, and subcontracted attorney, secretly negotiating the deal, according to documents obtained by Censored News.

The tribal resolution appeared in public without the name of Remington Arms on it, to prevent the public and media from finding out.

In the end, Remington Arms sold for far less, $155 million, to other buyers.

Remington Arms lawsuits are ongoing, filed by those holding the company responsible for the automatic weapons used in mass murders, including the murder of children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut. 

Read the article at Censored News:

The failure to provide for Dine' is nowhere more apparent than at Big Mountain and on Black Mesa.

The failure of the Navajo government to provide for the people has been the pattern on Black Mesa over the past 45 years.

The Navajo government signed leases with the two Peabody Coal mines and the Navajo Generating Station and received royalties.

The coal mine and coal-fired powered plant on the Navajo Nation produced electricity for distant cities, draining the aquifer, drying up local streams, and leaving the people in need.

The Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona, was among the world's top producers of greenhouse gasses, before it was shut down this year.

Uncle Andy Dann delivering supplies.

As the coronavirus spread across the Navajo Nation, Dine' volunteers Mercury Bitsuie and his Uncle Andy Dann struggled to raise their own funds to reach those in need. 

They delivered water, food and supplies to isolated  elderly on Black Mesa and others, long neglected by the tribal government.

Bitahnii Wilson, Dine', was among the Dine' who raised his own funds. Bitahnii delivered  new water barrels filled with water to Navajo and Hopi, and even delivered  supplies to Apache.

Meanwhile, the Navajo government delayed sending relief checks to Dine' for eight months, after receiving federal CARES Act funds in June of 2020.

In August, when Dine' were in desperate need, the tribal government gave $24 million of the CARES Act virus relief funds to its casinos.

The media has fueled the problem, by relying on the public relations spin of government and corporate press releases -- instead of being present and carrying out serious investigative reporting.

And when it comes to mining, Censored News echoes the words of Louise Benally of Big Mountain, when Peabody Coal denied the amount of water drained from the aquifer, nearly 40 years ago.

"Those big corporations lie."

About the author 

Brenda Norrell, publisher of Censored News, has been a news reporter in Indian country for 39 years. She began as a news reporter at Navajo Times, during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation.

She was a stringer for Associated Press, USA Today, and Lakota Times. Her articles appeared in Outside magazine and other publications.

After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and terminated. She created Censored News in 2006. 

No comments: