Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 25, 2023

Chili Yazzie: In Search of Common Ground


By Chili Yazzie, Dine'
Shiprock, Navajo Nation
Censored News
Translated into French by Christine Prat

Western thought development takes massive quantities of elements from the earth to make things useful to mankind like electricity and petro. Western thought development includes non-energy economic and community development to create retail economy and infrastructure. Western thought is the bilagaana perspective. The concern with the ways of energy development is the destructiveness of it, the damage it does to the earth, the waste and pollution it leaves behind.

This damage does not seem to matter to the western thought-minded industrialist/developer, as long as the product gets made with a profit. As this way of development continues it gets stronger, seems there is no stopping it. The damage gets worse. The lust for profit, the need for greed is too strong, it is overpowering. The greatest addiction there is.

To Indigenous people who maintain their connection to their roots and to those who care about nature, this manner of energy development is wrong. Those of us who believe this way, believe so because we know the Earth Mother is a living entity with spirit, that's the way she was made, and that's the way she is.

The extreme thought on dirty energy development is that it is killing the earth. No one knows if the earth will die or if it will rejuvenate after humanity is gone. The optimist suggests the earth will not die. I am not that optimistic; when a living entity is continuously and increasingly damaged it will eventually die. Thinking across the expanse of the universe there appear to be countless 'dead' celestial entities (at least as they appear to our limited perception; they may be 'alive' in different dimensions and their separate realities). What were/are their origins, their lifetimes, their fates.

I don't have positive regard for science, simply because it is one-sided. In its attitude of one-all-be-all, it pretends a superiority, a pitiful arrogance that does not recognize its incompleteness. Science requires physical empirical evidence; it does not account for faith of belief or spirituality. In the equation of life, there is the composition of the physical and spiritual, this is absolute. One could not be without the other. How can science have the complete concept of anything of life if it relies on only one side and ignores or does not recognize/understand the reality of the other part of the equation.

This manifestation of science is the same conviction that energy developers have, in that they believe the technologies they base their exploitation on, is the best way to do what they do. With this conviction, that is shared by the likes of NTEC and NOGC, they refuse to recognize the undeniable presence of the living spiritual reality of the earth. With this idiocy, they knowingly or ignorantly pronounce they have zero comprehension of the permanent damage they do to the life of earth and subsequently to all life.

We, Indigenous who think about these dynamics understand the methodologies of dirty energy development, it is not complicated, there is nothing to figure out, they are brazenly simplistic. Exploit the earth, make the most profit, and damn be the consequences. Conversely, the bilagaana corporate hierarchy apparently does not understand these realities; they don't have the time, it doesn't matter, or do not have the capacity to comprehend and accept that the earth is alive. And that they are ebbing her life.
The potential common ground between the energy companies and the Defenders of the Earth Mother is to come to an understanding of these foundational life realities. That would be a start; otherwise, we are in a forever fight. Dirty energy development encroached on our lands 100 years ago, it remains the intruder so long as it refuses to understand that the land and we are one. This is our land, it is our birthright, we are the designated caretakers, it will always be so.
Defend the Land.                                                                                                  ©chiliyazzie

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