“What we are trying to save—the Female Mountain—is alive. She is alive, she has blood flowing through her veins, which is the Navajo Aquifer, and the coal they are digging is Her liver. They are destroying Her.” –Marie Gladue, Big Mountain Relocation Resister
“We need to exercise our right to be human. To gather on the land and have our words be heard by the ground, the trees, and each other.” –Louise Benally, Big Mountain Relocation Resister
During this moment of peak visibility around climate change, we extend this invitation for a training camp on Big Mountain. We’ll gather to honor 40 years of Indigenous resistance to cultural genocide, forced relocation, and large-scale coal mining.
*Application link at bottom of email*
The Elders Circle of the 40-Year Sovereign Dineh Nation Resistance, with Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS)–a collective working in solidarity with the Big Mountain and surrounding resistance communities–as well as Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS), Missourians Organizing for Reform/Revolution & Empowerment (MORE), and Save the Confluence are collaboratively organizing this camp.
Background on the Training Camp
Building on alliances made during last June’s gathering on decolonization, the collaborative planning process for this gathering has been a combination of conference calls and in-person meetings. Since September, there have been five community meetings on Black Mesa with elders, second generation resisters, and collective members from BMIS. Additionally, monthly meetings are held in Flagstaff with youth and local organizations. Through these meetings, community members have guided the tone, outreach, messaging, goals, and ceremonies necessary for the preparation of this camp. When asked what kind of action elders wanted to see, they shared examples of the different forms of action they have taken while defending their right to remain on their ancestral homeland. They expressed looking forward to sharing their stories as to inspire next generations.
Camp organizers are connecting with trainers and workshop presenters from organizations such as Multicultral Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE), Save the Confluence, Palestinian Youth Movement, RAMPS, MORE, No One is Illegal (Canada), Puente Human Rights Movement, Sixth World Solutions, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Anti-Uranium Groups, and the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission. The camp offers a variety of non-violent direct action (NVDA) skills and workshops grounded in legacies of land-based resistance. Spiritual, cultural, artistic practices and healing will be foregrounded.
The workshops and trainings will include:
Introduction and History of NVDA
The History of the Struggle and Land Dispute on Black Mesa
Cultural Work as Resistance to Colonialism
Frontline Movement Updates
Cultural Sharing and Storytelling
Art and prop making
People’s Media and Communication (including messaging, social media, and live-streaming)
Know Your Rights and legal training
…and many more
“During this gathering, we want to re-create harmony between Indigenous peoples who have been harmed by relocation policies. We want to re-spark the cross-movement connections made at last June’s Gathering by taking action at the site of disruption–the coal mine itself.” – Danny Blackgoat, community organizer and son of Resister Matriarch, Roberta Blackgoat.
*To honor 40 years of resistance on Big Mountain and confront resource colonialism
*To build on strategic alliances between anti-extraction struggles in Appalachia and Black Mesa
*To strengthen connections between Indigenous communities on the front lines of land defense
*To build on cross-movement connections made at last June’s gathering for decolonization (on Black Mesa)
*To expand the solidarity network
*To center cultural and spiritual elements of resistance
The training camp is free, including all food, lodging and training. However, we are encouraging participants to fundraise and donate as they are able to help offset costs. BMIS has limited funds for travel stipends and we are prioritizing funding for Indigenous and frontline communities. There will be limited indoor space for sleeping; most participants will be camping. The camp will be in a remote area with no running water, paved roads, or electricity. More details are provided in the application (below).
Call for Sheepherders/ Human Rights Observers:
Resistance community members are requesting returning sheepherders/ human rights observers this spring. Because this camp is held on actively disputed land (see background), it will not be possible without human rights observation during and following the camp. Your involvement will make it possible for the resistance community to participate in the camp and will help mitigate further harassment.
Contact us if you are able to come a week early and help set up base camp!
Click Here to Apply
Contact: BigMountainCamp2014@gmail.com with application questions
In Honor of 40 Years,
The Elders Circle of the Sovereign Dineh Nation, The BMIS Collective, RAMPS, MORE, & Save the Confluence