CALL the Secretary of Interior & Office of Surface Mining – Support Indigenous Peoples!

From Indigenous Environmental Network Newsletter

Published by dannymarx, December 8th, 2008

CALL the Secretary of Interior & Office of Surface Mining – Support Indigenous Peoples!

Navajo and Hopi communities face threat of more coal mining in Black Mesa, Arizona.

The U.S. Office of Surface Mining (OSM) will soon determine whether to allow Peabody Coal, the world’s largest coal company, to strip mine coal on Navajo and Hopi lands in Black Mesa. Watch Videos – Links Below

The Black Mesa region is sacred to the Navajo people and is key to the cultural survival of both Navajo and Hopi peoples. More coal mining will devastate these communities – potentially displacing families and impacting all forms of life in the area. The OSM has ignored the concerns of Black Mesa residents, who are preparing to take action.

TODAY – Monday December 8th: Hopi and Navajo activists are taking their concerns to the federal agency’s regional headquarters in Denver, CO.

Your help is needed to ensure the voices and concerns from Black Mesa are heard loud and clear.
YOU can Support the Hopi and Navajo peoples of Black Mesa:

Contact the Office of Surface Mining and/or the U.S. Secretary of the Interior know that you stand in solidarity with Navajo & Hopi people to oppose coal mining in Black Mesa! Please tell these agencies not to Permit the “Black Mesa Project”! Sample Letter/Email below.
Dennis Winterringer

Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement

Denver, CO

Phone: 303-844-1400, ext 1440


Dirk Kempthorne

Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20240


For more information, please call (928) 213-5909, cell# (928) 380-6296, cell # (928) 637-5281, or e-mail

Click the Video Button To View Big Mountain – Part 5

And for more video information:

Big Mountain Part 1

Big Mountain Part 2

Big Mountain Part 3

Big Mountain Part 4

For More Information Visit Black Mesa Indigenous Support

Sample Letter

Please copy and paste the letter below into your email – edit to reflect your message and add your name and/or contact information. Then call the number(s) above to emphasize the urgency for the OSM to suspend all activity on the Black Mesa Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI DES 08-49, OSM-EIS-33).

Thank you for your support. Click Image at the right – for more information.

Dirk Kempthorne


Department of Interior

1849 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Kempthorne:

I am writing to request your urgent attention and immediate action regarding a matter of highest importance to the integrity of your trust responsibility and to the credibility of the Department of the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM).

I request that you direct OSM to suspend all activity on the Black Mesa Project Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOI DES 08-49, OSM-EIS-33).  The Record of Decision (ROD) for the Black Mesa Project Final EIS will be announced by Dec. 7, 2008 and I strongly urge you to not give the applicant, Peabody Western Coal Company, a permit to mine more coal in Black Mesa, AZ.

OSM has rushed to approve a life-of-mine permit, first without making the permit revisions sufficiently available for public review, and then without adequate environmental review.  The power plant that previously used Black Mesa Mine coal shut down, and there is no other proposed use for the coal whose mining would be permitted by OSM.  As a result, there is no actual proposed project involving Black Mesa Mine coal to be analyzed, making the pending EIS not only premature, but in direct conflict with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.

The current proposal would also grant the applicant continued access to Navajo Aquifer water for the life-of-mine operations. For over thirty years, Peabody Coal Company’s coal-slurry operation has a depleted precious drinking water and the drying of many sacred springs to the Navajo and Hopi as a result of using the Navajo Aquifer.  The Navajo Aquifer is the only source of drinking water for Black Mesa tribal residents.  OSM’s current proposal to grant a permit for a mine-with no potential customers-and indefinite use of water rights to the Navajo Aquifer is an affront to tribal communities, and if allowed to proceed, would be a clear failure to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s trust responsibility to the people of the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation.

Thank you for your consideration,

Your Name

Contact Information

The Indigenous Environmental Network • PO Box 485 • Bemidji , MN 56619



Indigenous Peoples slammed at UN Climate Summit in Poland

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Indigenous Peoples slammed at UN Climate Summit in Poland

We, the undersigned representatives of indigenous peoples, local communities and non-governmental organizations monitoring the progress of negotiations in Poznan are outraged that the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand opposed the inclusion of recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities in a decision on REDD (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) drafted today by government delegates at the UN Climate Conference. These four countries (often known as the ‘CANZUS Group’) want to include REDD in the future climate agreement, but they oppose protecting the rights of the indigenous and forest peoples who will be directly affected by REDD measures. In discussions today, these countries insisted that the word “rights” and references to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be struck from the text.
This is totally unacceptable for indigenous peoples, local communities and supporting NGOs, as the forests which are being targeted for REDD are those which indigenous peoples have sustained and protected for thousands of years. The rights of forests peoples to continue playing this role and being rewarded for doing so has to be recognized by the UNFCCC Parties. Any REDD mechanism that does not respect and protect the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities will fail. We therefore demand that an unequivocal reference to rights and to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples be reinserted into the Draft COP14 Decision text on REDD.
Poznan, December 9, 2008, Signed by The Accra Caucus on Forests and Climate Change, comprised of more than 30 civil society organizations from three tropical continents, Accion Ecologica, Friends of the Earth, International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change, Rainforest Foundation Norway, Rainforest Foundation, UKTebtebba Foundation


A Tribe in Brazil Struggles at the Intersection of Drugs and Cultures

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

TABATINGA, Brazil — The Tikuna Indians living near this Amazon outpost long believed that their community was a portal to the supernatural, to immortals who would guard them and secure their existence

But lately they are finding that location may instead be a curse.

The Tikuna community, Mariaçu, lies along a placid stretch of the Solimões River, less than three miles down a reddish-dirt road from Tabatinga, a bustling commercial town.

In Denver, Tribal Leaders Protest Mining Expansion

Please read  and listen to audio of the article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

DENVER, CO (2008-12-08) Native American leaders and activists from Arizona staged a protest Monday afternoon in downtown Denver in front of the Office of Surface Mining. Navajo and Hopi tribal officials want federal officials to delay a controversial plan to expand mining that they say could disrupt their water supplies. KUNC’s Kirk Siegler reports from Denver.

Native hunters: Climate is thinning caribou herds

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Chief Bill Erasmus of the Dene nation in northern Canada brought a stark warning about the climate crisis: The once abundant herds of caribou are dwindling, rivers are running lower and the ice is too thin to hunt on.

Erasmus raised his concerns in recent days on the sidelines of a U.N. climate conference, seeking to ensure that North America’s indigenous peoples are not left out in the cold when it comes to any global warming negotiations.

Erasmus, the 54-year-old elected leader of 30,000 native Americans in Canada, and representatives of other indigenous peoples met with the U.N.’s top climate official, Yvo de Boer, and have lobbied national delegations to recognize them as an “expert group” that can participate in the talks like other nongovernment organizations.

Navajos and Hopis protest Peabody Coal in Denver photos

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at

Navajos and Hopis protest Peabody Coal in Denver photos

Photos and audio by Mano Cockrum, Hopi-Navajo, in Denver:
Navajos and Hopis in solidarity, protest Peabody Coal, outside the Office of Surface Mining in Denver today. Black Mesa Panel Discussion on Sunday, recorded by Mano Cockrum. Listen to audio:
Navajo and Hopi: ‘Black Mesa is not for sale’
By Brenda Norrell
DENVER — Hopis and Navajos spoke out in solidarity to oppose a new life-of-mine permit on Black Mesa for the longstanding genocidal corporation Peabody Coal. Speaking out during a panel on Sunday, and protesting outside the Office of Surface Mining on Monday, Hopi and Navajo said their water is too precious to be used again for water slurry.
Wahleah Johns, Navajo from Forest Lake, Arizona, with the Black Mesa Water Coalition, comes from the area, close to the Peabody Coal operations. Johns said the latest push for Peabody Coal mining is part of the Bush legacy of targeting Indigenous lands with fossil fuel extractions all over the world.
Johns said the proposed life of mine would mean that Peabody can mine as much coal as they can, as long as they like, until all the coal is gone. “It hurts me. I have seen what actual strip mining looks like.”
Peabody has been using the pristine aquifer water at the rate of 4,600 acre feet of water each year. “No where else could you find this type of abuse, no where else in the world.”
Johns said the Black Mesa Water Coalition organized because of the abuse of sacred water. “Black Mesa is regarded as a female mountain of Black Mesa.” She said every effort must be made to stop coal mining on Black Mesa.
During the panel discussion on Sunday, Enei Begaye moderated the discussion on what more coal mining and devastation would mean for the Navajo and Hopi people.
Dale Jackson, Hopi from Third Mesa, said Hopis made a difficult sacred run to Mexico, which required a great deal of sacrifice. He was happy to see the rain when they returned.
“We were happy to see we brought the rain back.”
Jackson said the Hopi grandmothers are sad now and do not know what will happen to them. “They are here in spirit listening to us.”
Maxine Wadsworth, Hopi, said the people came out of respect to protect the water. “We just had to put our prayers before us, and lay our prayers down to be here today.”
She said the Hopi tribal government has provided misinformation about the draft environmental impact statement. She said the Hopi people are not in support of the EIS and have gained the support of Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, who has asked that the EIS be suspended. She said the Office of Surface Mining is pushing for passage of the EIS.
Wadsworth said Peabody Coal does not have permission to use C-Aquifer water.
“We are here to speak on our own behalf.” She said the aquifer provides water for ceremonies at the springs. The springs are drying up.
“When I think about it, I just want to cry. It is that significant to us.”
Wadsworth said the US government is failing to protect the religious beliefs of the Hopi people, but yet protect insects and fishes.
Wadsworth listed the federal laws being violated, included the Treaty of Guadalupe and laws created to protect American Indian religious freedoms.
Hopi and Navajo traveled 12 hours to reach Denver, many living in desperate conditions.
They said they came to Denver for their children, their future and the sacred ceremonies. The people are being abused by their own tribal officials and the officials of the Office of Surface Mining.
Navajos from Big Mountain said ceremonial plants are disappearing as the springs dry up.
“They are destroying this beautiful land,” said John Benally from Big Mountain. “Because they don’t live there, they don’t care.”
While the healing and ceremonial plants and clays are disappearing, Benally said burning fossil fuels is responsible for global climate change. The sun is now causing people to have blisters. He said Navajos do not want to give their young people contaminated air to breathe and land to live on.
Navajos have to travel long distances to haul water, while Peabody uses the water and tribal officials ignore the grassroots people, especially the elderly.
“We are threatened again with relocation,” said Leonard Benally of Big Mountain. “Enough is enough. We need your help.”
“Tell the OSM people, ‘Black Mesa is not for sale! Go home!'”

Eskom pulls the plug on Nuclear-1 power plant

Please read article, cited after the quote. Articles open in a new window.

Cape Town – Bidders for Eskom’s multibillion-rand Nuclear-1 power plant project – led by French-based Areva, the world’s largest supplier of nuclear reactors, and Toshiba Corporation’s Westinghouse Electric Company, based in the US – have expressed understanding of the utility’s decision to pull the plug on the project.

Eskom, which only last week garnered a $5 billion (R51.7 billion) facility to fund its expansion programme, announced on Friday that it had cancelled the project, which was to have come on stream by 2018.

The board had decided “the hard figures” were too high to justify it, spokesperson Fani Zulu said at the weekend