Hopi Chairman Ben Nuvamsa takes lead to halt Peabody

This was originally posted by Brenda Norell at http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Hopi Chairman Ben Nuvamsa takes lead to halt Peabody

Photo 1: Hopi Chairman Ben Nuvamsa in Denver protest. Photo 2: Kevin Nash, Hopi, tells OSM officials about how their decision on the “Black Mesa Project” will tear apart every aspect of his life ad his peoples’ lives far into the future. Elder Anna Silas, Hopi, listens near by, while Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa (seated) supports Racheal Povatah, Hopi. Photo 3: Denver banner. Courtesy photos.

Hopi and Navajo united in Denver to halt Peabody’s genocide and desecration

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News

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 Dec. 7 and then protesting outside the Office of Surface Mining in downtown Denver on Dec. 8, Hopi and Navajo said their water is too precious to be used again for water slurry.

Navajo and Hopi are opposing the permit for Peabody Coal, which would extract enormous amounts of aquifer water and could mean more forced relocation of Navajos.

A delegation of 35 Navajo and Hopi tribal members, including Hopi Tribal Chairman Ben Nuvamsa, met with the U.S. Office of Surface Mining at their Denver headquarters in hopes of delaying OSM’s Record of Decision until the next Presidential Administration takes office.

The Record of Decision is the final stage of the permitting process for the proposed “Black Mesa Project,” which would grant Peabody Coal Company a life-of-mine” permit– expanded mining operations and rights to tap the fresh water of the Navajo aquifer.

For three hours the Navajo and Hopi representatives met with OSM officials and presented documents and petitions ratified by their communities that urge OSM to suspend their decision, the Hopi and Navajo delegation said in a statement.

Their unified statement read, “Although we represent two different tribes, we come today united to protect our shared land and water. Water is the life source to both our peoples, and Peabody has failed to understand this connection. If the Office of Surface Mining grants a permit to Peabody, our way of life and spiritual balance will be severely disrupted and altered. Currently, we are already suffering the damage this industry has caused over the past 30 years. We believe OSM has been negligent in fulfilling the NEPA process, and if OSM issues a Record of Decision, that would be a breach of the Federal Trust Responsibility. United we ask the Office of Surface Mining to stop the Record of Decision process.”

OSM Western Regional Director Al Klein stated, “The Environmental Impact Statement process is finalized, the decision before us is very minor, and we are on track to release it on Dec. 15.”

The tribal representatives expressed the weight of this decision and that it is not a “minor” decision. They also gave testimony to the many aspects of their life, culture, and spirituality that would be severely impacted if the project was approved. Gordon Isaac, a Navajo tribal member and veteran of the Gulf War told the officials, “Peabody is not just digging into topsoil. They are tearing into people’s lifeways.”

While most of the delegation was inside meeting with OSM officials, 60 local supporters accompanied the rest of the Navajo and Hopi delegation outside to rally, protest, and show support, including dropping a 10ft by 16ft banner from a nearby parking garage that read, “Navajo & Hopi Say NO COAL MINING!” Support was not only outside of the building. OSM’s telephone and fax lines were bombarded with calls of support and written requests to postpone the ROD from across the country.

After listening to three hours of emotional testimony, OSM was asked if they would simply consider suspending the record of decision. Director Klein replied, “We have a set of regulations, and when a company puts on paper in their application how they will fulfill the requirements, we do not have discretion. We have to grant them a permit … At this point we will not be changing the calender of events on this decision.”

This decision comes in the midst of Hopi political turmoil. Chairman Nuvamsa came to represent the Hopi and Tewa people in the battle to protect the water and lands from further coal mining in Black Mesa, AZ. “Due to lack of representation on the Hopi Tribal Council, the Village of Tewa was never afforded the opportunity to participate in any discussion of the Draft EIS as it applies to Hopi people and land,” stated Chairman Nuvamsa.

“Hopis believe that this time of year is a very sacred and sensitive time that prevents us from stepping outside our home area, because it’s the time of renewal for all life. We are taught not to be disruptive and confrontational during this time. It is such a big sacrifice for us to be here in Denver, but OSM continues to release critical decisions during this time; so many of our people have not been able to to voice their grave concerns about this Black Mesa Project. We feel an obligation to our families, clans, and future, so we have come here despite our cultural restrictions.” says Racheal Povatah, a Hopi tribal member.

Speaking on a panel before the protest on Sunday, Wahleah Johns, Navajo from Forest Lake, Arizona, with the Black Mesa Water Coalition, said she comes from the area, close to the Peabody Coal operations. Read about it, and listen to Johns, John and Leonard Benally of Big Mountain at:



Courts to decide on Indigenous territory Raposa Serra do Sol

Courts to decide on Indigenous territory Raposa Serra do Sol

The Supreme Court of Brazil is set to announce it’s decision on the indigenous territory of Raposa Serra do Sol, a legally-recognized Indigenous Territory in the Brazilian state of Roraima.

Home to the Ingarikó, Makuxi, Taurepang, Patamona and Wapixana Peoples, Raposa Serra do Sol has been a site of great controversy due a small group of vigilante rice farmers that have refused to leave the territory, despite being ordered to do so by the government in 2005.

In May of this year, a group of armed guards working for one of the farmers opened fire on a group of Macuxi, injuring At least 10. One month earlier, the farmers barricaded themselves into the indigenous territory, setting up roadblocks and burning at least three bridges to block Brazil’s Federal Police forces from evicting them,. The farmers also threw a home-made bomb into a local Indigenous Leaders home. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The Brazilian Supreme Court was originally scheduled to hand down its rule on August 27, however only on judge, Magistrate Carlos Ayres de Britto, handed down his decision before the court adjourned ‘to gather more information’.

Hopefully Magistrate Britto’s descision is an indication of what we can expect today. A key judge in the case, Britto stated that the reservation must remain intact in order for Brazil to uphold the constitutional rights of the the Makuxi, Wapixana, Ingariko, Taukepang, and Patamona.

Using the Portuguese word ‘esbulho’ (dispossession or unlawful possession) to describe the occupation of the reservation by the non-indigenous farmers, Britto further emphasized that the Indigenous People are in fact the region’s original occupants, and that “territories like Raposa-Serra do Sol which border other countries are not incompatible with national security, as the military have claimed,” notes a press release by Survival International.

Before the Judge handed down his ruling — an indigenous lawyer, Joênia Batista de Carvalho, rose in front of the Judges to defend her people, the first time in the history of Brazil’s that such an event occurred.

Recorded on video, she stated:

“We are accused of being thieves in our own land, of being invaders. We are slandered, we are discriminated against. This must come to an end.

“It falls upon the Federal Supreme Court, this Court, to enforce what we’ve been hearing said for a long time: that traditional indigenous lands go well beyond mere houses.

“Many people do not know that indigenous lands cannot be characterized only by dwellings. They also include areas where people fish, hunt, walk, maintain sacred places, where we maintain spirituality, where our culture is maintained. This is fundamental so that we can guarantee the importance of our land not [only] for today, but for tomorrow also. We want this.”

“Today we are living a truly historic moment in Brazil. The indigenous lands [of] Raposa Serra do Sol are an emblematic case for the whole national territory, and they represent the voice of indigenous peoples.

“This is about enforcing in practice what was promised 20 years ago: our rights of origin, our right to inviolable land rights, our right to live in accordance with our customs and traditions. And so those who define indigenous land are the very indigenous people themselves. I want to remind [you] here, Justices, that what is at play here is the 500 years of colonization. This is what is at play.”

For updates on the case, keep an eye on intercontinentalcry.org, or head over to the facebook group, In Defense of Indigenous Brazil – Raposa Serra do Sol.

Photo: www.sisejuferj.org.br c/o brasil.indymedia.org


Native Hawaiian Bill Could Pass in 2009

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HONOLULU (AP) — The political stars for long-stalled efforts to boost the status of Native Hawaiians appear to be aligning nicely.

With Barack Obama set to take over the White House and Democrats ready to claim larger majorities in Congress next month, legislation to create a governmental entity to represent Native Hawaiians could finally win passage.

“I am optimistic about working with President-elect Obama, who supports federal recognition and understands Hawaii’s unique history,” U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the bill’s main’s sponsor, told The Honolulu Advertiser. Critics agree that the Akaka bill has a better chance of passage next year after being opposed by most Senate Republicans and the Bush Administration in recent attempts to get it through Congress.

More at Reznews

Living treasure Navajo elder celebrates 108th

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BLACK MESA, Ariz. – Navajo Nation Council Delegate Amos Johnson participated in the 108th birthday party of lifelong Black Mesa resident Nellie Rose.

“I’m privileged and honored to have celebrated our grandmother,” Johnson said. “We’ve learned a lot from her and have learned the secrets of longevity.”

The birthday celebration was held at the Black Mesa Community School where family and friends gathered for a luncheon. The celebration included six generations of Nellie Rose’s family. Johnson took the moment to remind the audience to take care of their parents and grandparents.


Navajo Nation Leader Calls For Efforts To Address Abandoned Uranium Mines On Reservation

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Navajo Nation Division of Health Executive Director Anslem Roanhorse told federal health officials at a tribal consultation session last week that a comprehensive research and assessment program with sufficient resources is needed to clean up the hundreds of abandoned radioactive uranium mines on American Indian reservations, Indian Country Today reports. Roanhorse was testifying at the bi-annual CDC and Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry Tribal Consultation session on the Environmental Public Health in Indian Country (Indian Country Today, 12/8).

Last year, Navajo tribal officials requested a minimum of $500 million to continue cleanup efforts of reservations exposed to decades-old retroactive material that has resulted in health and environmental damage. The Navajo Nation is the largest American Indian homeland in the U.S. and encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 10/29/07).

Roanhorse said that there are 520 radioactive uranium mines on the reservation that were used primarily by the government between 1944 and 1986 and have been abandoned (Indian Country Today, 12/8). After the uranium was extracted from the soil, operators routinely left the tunnels, shafts and piles of radioactive waste open and exposed. Meanwhile, cancer rates among the tribe have doubled, and certain birth defects also have increased (Kaiser Health Disparities Report, 10/29/07).


Marina Center land may have two Wiyot villages on site

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In order to preserve any remains of what may be two Wiyot Villages on the site of the proposed Marina Center development, the recently released Environmental Impact Report suggested the close monitoring of ground-disturbing activities in addition to the recovery of any archeological remains found.

The report’s section on the effects of the project on cultural resources outlines the possibility of two sites within or near the area studied. Historical references and accounts have placed one village within or near the northeastern portion of the project site, and the other is possibly located near or within the eastern boundary.

The Balloon Tract, a 43-acre former Union Pacific railyard overlooking Humboldt Bay, was purchased by Security National in 2006 and is the proposed site for a more than 500,000-square-foot mixed-use development that is slated to house a new Discovery Museum, office space, some residential units, restaurants and almost 300,000 feet of retail space anchored by a Home Depot.


Cancers suggest radiation dangers

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The incidence of thyroid cancer is rising at an alarming rate in Vermont, as well as across this country and especially in the Northeastern states. No cancer diagnosis is growing as fast according to the National Cancer Institute, with a growth rate of about 6 percent a year since 1997. Most newly diagnosed are women, who are two to three times more likely than men to develop thyroid cancer.

Brenda Edwards is a statistician with the National Cancer Institute and reported that the annual rate increase of thyroid cancer doubled from 2 percent in the 1980s to 4.6 percent in the 1990s to 9.8 percent in 2005 for U.S males and females of all ages. That is the latest year publicly reported.

Unfortunately, both the Centers for Disease Control and the Vermont Department of Health report the incidence of thyroid cancer by aggregating the data over five years on women and men of all ages so that the public health significance of trending is absent. It is the trend of thyroid cancer rising every year and the implications of that rise that should be publicly reported so that our public health leadership can begin to analyze and investigate the possible causes.