Caravan in Support of Indigenous Resistance Communities of Black Mesa

Posted: September 20, 2010 by earthfirstdurango in coal, direct action, environmental justice, environmental racism, indigenous solidarity, resistance, water
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Join the Caravan in Support of Indigenous Communities Resisting Massive Coal Mining Operations on Their Ancestral Homelands of Big Mountain & Black Mesa, AZ

These Front-Line Resistance Communities, in their Struggle for Life, Land, & Future Generations, Have Always Maintained That Their Struggle Is For Our Collective Survival.  May They Be Supported Now and Always!

November 20-27, 2010

Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support!

We are excited to extend the invitation from Dineh resisters of the Black Mesa region to join BMIS’s caravan to support their ongoing struggle. On behalf of their peoples, their sacred ancestral lands and future generations, these communities continue a 36 year long struggle against the US Governments forced relocation efforts, Peabody Coal’s financial interests, and an unsustainable fossil fuel based economy. They continue trying to halt and repair the devastating impacts of colonialism, coal mining, and forced relocation of their communities, sacred lands, and our planet. As one of their resistance strategies they call upon outside support as they maintain their traditional way of life in the face of the largest relocation of indigenous people in the US since the Trail of Tears.

By assisting with direct, on-land projects you are supporting a broad movement for climate justice and families right to stay on their ancestral homelands in resistance to an illegal occupation.  The oil spill in the Gulf highlighted the dangerous and unsustainable reality of our fossil fuels based economy. Another example of this dangerous reality comes from Black Mesa. The recently approved carbon capture storage project will capture the coal firing plant emissions and use clean water to pump the carbon an estimated 9,000 feet into the ground to be stored near their major aquifer. False solutions to climate change and large scale coal extraction must be stopped! We propose participating in this caravan as one small way in supporting these courageous communities who are serving as the very blockade to coal mining on Black Mesa!

Supporting Indigenous leadership and creating models for support that are based on the priorities and visions of their communities is a major goal of BMIS. This year we used funds to bring organizers from Black Mesa to the U.S. Social Forum, to San Luis Valley as well as Farmington, NM for anti-coal organizing, and to Portland for an anarchist Christian gathering.

This years caravan will be held at some amazing organizers’ homes so we are excited to focus on movement building, strengthening resistance movements and support networks that will make victories possible not only on Black Mesa, but in communities all across the world.  We are creating a space for sharing updates from ‘The Land’ and for dialogue about the connections between Black Mesa and various struggles in which they are interconnected. We encourage regional organizing and fundraising to support the participation and leadership of people most impacted by interlocking systems of oppression. We are prioritizing the participation from people who are deeply invested in and on the front-lines of movements for social, economic, environmental justice in their communities, as they will have the most to offer and gain from gathering, talking with, and working with each other and the elders. We are also encouraging the participation of returning supporters or those who plan to come before or stay after the caravan, as well as anyone who’s planning to be involved long term. We look forward to seeing how caravan participants can integrate their work, their lessons, and of course the communities’ stories  and visions into their work and life!

The U.S. Government began relocating Black Mesa residents from their ancestral homelands in 1974 to pave the way for Peabody’s mining. Families are in their FOURTH DECADE resisting this travesty. And, since relocation laws have made it nearly impossible for younger generations to continue living on their homelands, many of the residents are elderly and winters can be extremely rough in this remote high desert terrain. The aim of this caravan is to honor the elders’ requests and, under their guidance, carry out direct, on-land support: chopping and hauling firewood, doing minor repair work, offering holistic health care and sheep-herding before the approaching cold winter months arrive.

“The Big Mountain matriarchal leaders always believed that resisting forced relocation will eventually benefit all ecological systems, including the human race,” says Bahe Keediniihii, Dineh organizer and translator. “Continued residency by families throughout the Big Mountain region has a significant role in the intervention of Peabody’s future plan for Black Mesa coal to be the major source of unsustainable energy, the growing dependency on fossil fuel, and escalating green house gas emissions. We will continue to fight to defend our homelands.”

Peabody Energy’s Disastrous Coal Mining Operations on Black Mesa:

At this moment, decision makers in Washington D.C. are planning ways to continue their occupation of tribal lands under the guise of extracting “clean coal,” with false solutions to climate change such as carbon storage and cap and trade carbon offsets.  In 30 years of disastrous operation, Peabody’s coal mining has ravaged Dineh and Hopi communities by forcibly relocated thousands of families, draining 2.5 million gallons of water daily from the only community water supply, and has left a toxic legacy along an abandoned 273-mile coal slurry pipeline. Peabody’s Black Mesa mine has been the source of an estimated 325 million tons of CO2 that have been discharged into the atmosphere. Coal from the Black Mesa Mine could contribute an additional 290 million tons of CO2 to the global warming crisis!*

As a result of hard and strategic work from the Black Mesa resistance community, Black Mesa Water Coalition,  To Nizhoni, The Forgotten People, the Sierra Club and others, Peabody’s mine expansion project is temporarily slowed.  As a way to honor and continue that work, now is the time to strengthen networks of direct support to the resisters, to ensure that when they try again for the expansion, resistance communities are prepared and resilient.

Peabody Coal Co. plans to seize another 19,000 acres of sacred land beyond the 67,000 acres already in Peabody’s grasp at Black Mesa.  Peabody Energy, previously Peabody Coal Company, is the world’s largest private-sector coal company, supplying 10% of U.S power and 2% of worldwide electricity.  Peabody’s coal mining will exacerbate already devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly add fuel to the fire of global climate chaos!

We are at a critical juncture and must take a stand in support of communities on the front lines of resistance now! Indigenous and land-based peoples have maintained the understanding that our collective survival is deeply dependent on our relationship to Mother Earth. Victory in protecting and reclaiming the Earth will require a broad and multi-pronged movement.

BMIS wishes for this caravan to be an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to listen and work with the families of Black Mesa to generate more awareness that relocation laws and coal mining need to be stopped, that these communities deserve to be free on their ancestral homelands.  We hope to come together to strengthen our solidarity and find ways to work together to protect Black Mesa and our Mother Earth for all life.

Ways you can support:

Join the Caravan and Be Self-Sufficient!  By connecting with a regional coordinator and joining one of the volunteer work crews from your region, you are expected to be adequately prepared and self-sufficient prior to your visit on Black Mesa, which is a very remote area in a high desert terrain. There is no electricity, no central heating, and no running water. You must come prepared, and bring everything you will need.  There could be extreme weather, and it will be cold especially at night. Each participant will need to bring food, water, outdoor camping gear (although we will likely be staying inside with families), very warm clothing, and appropriate attire for hands-on manual work.    Coming equipped with chainsaws, trucks, shovels, axes and mauls dramatically increases your effectiveness as a work crew!

Read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity and Preparedness Guide: All direct, on-land supporters of Black Mesa are required to thoroughly read over and sign the Cultural Sensitivity and Preparedness Guide. This document is an in-depth guide that contains important information that you will need prior to and during your visit with a host family on Black Mesa. This guide gives you crucial information about how to be adequately prepared, background of the struggle and current his/herstory, safety and legal issues, cultural sensitivity, code of conduct, and a suggested list of what to bring with you. We want to ensure that each person is informed about the agreements and basic requests from these communities, that each person is safe and accounted for, and that we have your emergency contact info should an emergency arise. It is of the utmost importance that each caravan participant understands and respects the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Please print out and bring this guidebook with you during your visit to Black Mesa http://blackmesais.org/tag/cultural-sensitivity/

Pre-register: To help us estimate how many people to expect as well as to help us make necessary accommodations for all. For participants coming from areas with BMIS designated regional coordinators, please register with them – see our website.

Host or attend regional organizational meetings in your area: We strongly urge participants to attend or organize regional meetings. Caravan coordinators are located in Prescott, Phoenix and Flagstaff, AZ; Denver, CO; Santa Cruz, CA; Eugene and Portland, OR; and the San Francisco’s Bay Area. The meeting locations and dates will be posted at the BMIS website and Face Book as coordinators set them u p.  This caravan will be collaborating with the annual Clan Dyken Fall Food and Supply Run on Black Mesa.

Raise Awareness: about Black Mesa and the caravan. You can obtain literature from BMIS.


Organize fundraisers:
At the weeks prior to every caravan, grassroots supporters from all over throw benefits to raise the much-needed funds, for such things as supplies, wood, and direct, on-land people-support. Please contact BMIS for guidelines prior to any fund-raising in the name of Big Mountain and Black Mesa.

Collect supplies: Chainsaws, axes, mauls, axe handles,  shovels, tools of all kinds, organic food, warm blankets, and especially trucks –either to donate to families or to use for the week of the caravan–are greatly needed on the land to make this caravan work! Check back on the BMIS website for an ongoing list of specific requests from the land.

Donate: We are not receiving nor relying on any institutional funding for these support efforts, but are instead counting on each person’s ingenuity, creativity, and hard work to make it all come together. We are hoping to raise enough money through our community connections for gas, specifically for collecting wood and food for host families, and for work projects.

Stay longer than the caravan with a family on Black Mesa: Families living in resistance to coal mining and relocation laws are requesting self-sufficient guests who are willing to give three or more weeks of their time, especially in the winter.  By coming prepared to stay longer, you can conserve resources by making 2 trips out of one. If you are returning for your second caravan, please consider this, as one of our goal is to create connections between families and support.   Since it is crucial to have good help out there and not create more work for the families, all supporters are required to read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity Preparedness Guide. Contact BMIS in advance so that we can make arrangements prior to your stay, to answer any questions that you may have, and so we can help put you in touch with a family.

The communities request support throughout the year: If you cannot attend the caravan and still want to support the resistance, please contact BMIS! We will provide support options or help facilitate your stay with a resisting family any time through the year!

We can’t wait to see you in November! Give back to the Earth! Give to future generations!

Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization dedicated to working with and supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa who are targeted by and resisting unjust large-scale coal mining operations and forced relocation policies of the US government in their struggle for Life and Land.

Address: P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Voice Mail: 928.773.8086
Email: blackmesais@gmail.com
Web: http://www.blackmesais.org
Facebook: Black Mesa Indigenous Support

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Comments
  1. Hello there to everyone who is thinking of joining the Caravan in Support of Indigenous Resistance Communities of Big Mountain & Black Mesa, AZ

    In honor of the sacred ancestral homelands we’ll be traveling to, and in honor of this years host family who are so graciously offering their home so that we can gather together, and in regards to the positive feedback as well as constructive criticism from past caravan attendees, we’ve placed a limit to the number of caravan participants. Caravans in years past were a tremendous success however when the numbers get too big it becomes difficult to manage.

    This year we’re already getting a huge response. This is another reason why we’re encouraging you to join regional BMIS groups leading up to the caravan and after it is over. Most of the regional groups are working in their communities year-round in supporting indigenous leadership such as those of Black Mesa.

    While BMIS wishes for this caravan and the support network as a whole to be an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to listen to and work with the families of Black Mesa, we are prioritizing the participation from already-politicized accountable movement builders. We are particularly seeking people of working-class based struggles, environmental, global justice organizations, indigenous people, people of color, LGBT and queer-identified participants, members of movement organizations, women, organizers working in anti-war/occupation movements.

    We are also encouraging the participation of returning supporters and those who plan to come before or stay weeks after the caravan, as well as anyone who’s planning to be involved long term. Supporters who have experience operating chainsaws or chopping wood, are carpenters, and/or can drive your trucks on back country roads, we encourage to apply as well.

    If you’re not able to participate in the fall caravan, remember that BMIS is available to support YOU in connecting and staying with a host family any time of the year. Please get in touch with regional coordinators in your area regarding fundraisers, report-backs, education, outreach, other support efforts, and actions that they might be planning leading up to and after the caravan. If you do not have a regional coordinator in your area, please contact us for ways to support the courageous resistance taking place on Black Mesa.

    So, please be sure to let BMIS know sooner rather than later! Thank you everybody for your continued support!
    Black Mesa Indigenous Support
    blackmesais@gmail.com

  2. […] we had a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone who came out! We raised $59 and a BUNCH of food for the Caravan in Support of Indigenous Resistance Communities of Black Mesa. The Bees have rescheduled for Saturday, December 4th, before the holy!holy!holy! […]

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