A Call For Supporting Indigenous Resistance on Black Mesa
At the end of an exceptionally hard winter of National Emergency status, and the beginning of a muddy spring, the Dine’ (Navajo) families of Big Mountain, and surrounding communities on Black Mesa continue to stand strong on their ancestral homelands! For nearly four decades the communities have faced the devastation of the U.S government and multinational coal mining corporations exploiting their homelands and violently fracturing their communities. Although the permit for the Black Mesa Mine expansion didn’t pass, and hopefully never will, families remain–resisting the Kayenta Mine and forced relocation.
“The Big Mountain Dine’ elders have endured so much since the 1970s and at the same time, they have defended and preserved that human dignity of natural survival, subsistence and religious values. They have resisted the U.S. government’s genocide policies to vacate lands that Peabody Coal Company recognized as the Black Mesa coal fields. The Big Mountain matriarchal leaders always believed that resisting forced relocation will eventually benefit all ecological systems, including the human race. Continued residency by families throughout the Big Mountain region has a significant role in the intervention to Peabody Coal’s future plan for Black Mesa coal to be the major source of electrical energy, increasing everyone’s dependency on fossil fuel and contributing to global warming. We will continue to fight to defend our homelands.” –Bahe Keediniihii, Dine’ organizer and translator.
Supporting these communities, whose very presence stands in the way of large-scale coal mining, is one way to work on the front lines for climate justice and against a future of climate chaos. There are also opportunities for long-term, committed supporters and organizers. Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is looking for Regional Coordinators to organize year-round support and work towards movement building, which would maintain and enhance communication channels between the Big Mountain resistance communities and networks that are being established to support the Big Mountain resistance as well as other local forms of indigenous resistance, while building shared analysis, vision and movements for the liberation of all peoples and our planet. Please contact us for more information if you are interested.
The families are encouraging people to come to Black Mesa! Support is invited all year long!
BMIS is a grassroots, all-volunteer run collective dedicated to working with and supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa in their Struggle for Life and Land who are targeted by and resisting unjust mountaintop removal coal mining operations and forced relocation policies of the U.S government. One of the primary ways that we do this is to honor the direct requests of these families to extend their invitation to all people interested in supporting their resistance, to come to Black Mesa, to their threatened ancestral homelands, walk with their sheep, haul water and wood, whatever they ask of us. By coming to The Land, we can assist the elders and their families in daily chores, which helps us to engage with the story that they are telling as well as to claim a more personal stake against environmental degradation, climate change, and continued legacies of colonialism and genocide. We can support by being there so they can go to meetings, organize, weave rugs, visit family members who have been hospitalized, rest after a difficult winter and regain strength for the upcoming spring. With spring comes planting crops,shearing sheep, and lambing. COME FOR A MONTH! Or Longer!
The elders on the land are very thankful for the support of their resistance over the last three decades. We at BMIS are asking those who have come before to continue the work you have started by coming back. And for those of you who have never come to the land, we encourage you to start. Deep thanks to all who made the November Caravan happen: let us continue the support through the year.
BMIS can assist you in the process of being self-sufficient on the land, which is vital. We are happy to speak with you over the phone or email and we offer important online resources like the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guidebook. Volunteers must read the guidebook and register with BMIS to ensure your safety and be accountable to the families. There are also plenty of great documents about the current and background information found on our website–one of the only on-line resources documenting this resistance.
“This land is being taken away because they’ve got power in Washington. We were put here with our Four Sacred Mountains ~ and we were created to live here. We know the names of the mountains and we know the names of the other sacred places. That is our power. That is how we pray and this prayer has never changed.” ~Katherine Smith, Big Mountain Elder
blackmesais [at] gmail.com – PO Box 23501 Flagstaff, AZ 86002 – 928-773-8086
BMIS can send letters/packages to families, however we encourage you to be in direct communication with families.