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Timbisha Shoshone to Obama: Adopt UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Timbisha Shoshone to Obama: Adopt UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

November 5, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
The President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500-0004

Dear Mr. President,

Greetings. Upon this historical event, we wish to thank you for your commitment and dedication to bring forth meaningful change for our Peoples. On behalf of the Timbisha Shoshone of the Western Shoshone Nation and the many other Nations and Pueblos of Indigenous Peoples of North America, we call upon the government of the United States of America (USA) to act in due haste to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly Resolution #61/295 at its 107th plenary on September 13, 2007.
We are confident that through your leadership and peacemaking goals as exemplified in your membership on the UN Human Rights Council, you will adopt this historic human rights instrument. We ask for this action immediately.

Mr. President, we write this in recognition of what we believe is your sincere commitment to uphold and strengthen the relationships with the US government and American Indian Nations. In keeping with your invitation to meet leaders of the Nations and Pueblos of Indigenous Peoples of North America which brings us to Washington DC, we offer our greetings to you and extend our hands in the spirit of a renewed and re-visioned expression of this relationship. A critical part of this relationship is recognizing that the time has come to break the chains from centuries of racism, colonization and ongoing oppression across North America. This can begin to be accomplished by the US adopting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We have entered a new age – a time of reflection and correcting the wrongs of previous eras. Let us set forth on a positive pathway together. As you know, thousands of Indigenous Peoples here in the US, and indeed throughout the world, stood up with trust and faith in your message of equity and justice for all, during your campaign. As Indigenous Peoples are equal to all other Peoples, it is time that the relationship of our Nations and Pueblos with the US must be redefined. This is more than a matter of honor. It is a matter of doing what is right and it is critical to our continuing and ever evolving relationship with the US federal government.
Mr. President, we believe in your commitment for real and systemic change that can imprint upon our future generations and lead the world in a good and honorable way. This can be accomplished by finally and for the first time ever, fully recognizing the rights of the Indigenous Nations.
Although an apology for the oppression of US policies that brutalized our homelands and have devastated our peoples, cultures and ecosystems, is well in order and in fact long overdue, it is not enough. Adopting the UNDRIP is a meaningful and responsible step toward long-term reconciliation that can resonate across the globe with Indigenous Peoples of the World.

The implementation of the UNDRIP institutes a new systemic standard that calls for complementary readjustment among entities of the government states and the Nations of the Indigenous Peoples, normalizing peaceful relations and creating partnerships based on mutual respect and cooperation.
Hopefully, this letter prompts the United States’ immediate attention to and adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We know this will produce a positive and constructive diplomatic venue to advance the recognition, respect, and protection of the Human Rights and Self-Determination of Indigenous Peoples, both within the domestic and international arenas.
Sincerely,
Joe Kennedy
Chairman, Timbisha Shoshone of the Western Shoshone Nation

Posted by brendanorrell@gmail.com at 6:00 PM

Join The Caravan In Support Of Big Mountain Resistance Communities of Black Mesa, AZ.

Join The Caravan In Support Of Big Mountain Resistance Communities of Black Mesa, AZ.

November 21-28, 2009

from BMIS

Greetings from Black Mesa Indigenous Support,

We are excited to inform you that a caravan of work crews will once again be converging from across the country in support of residents of the Big Mountain regions of Black Mesa. On behalf of their peoples, their sacred ancestral lands and future generations, these communities continue to carry out a staunch resistance to the efforts of the US Government, which is acting in the interests of the Peabody Coal Company, to devastate whole communities and ecosystems and greatly de-stabilize our planet’s climate for the profit of an elite few.

By assisting with direct, on-land projects you are helping families stay on their ancestral homelands in resistance to an illegal occupation and working for climate justice. These communities serve as the very blockade to coal mining! More than 14,000 Dine’ people have been forcibly removed from their ancestral homelands due to spin created by the U.S government & Peabody Coal, under the guise of the so-called “Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.” Families are now in their THIRD DECADE resisting this travesty and, as you can imagine, many residents are very elderly and winters can be rough. With their guidance, the aim of this caravan is to honor the elders and to generate support in the form of 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 Coal’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,” which does not exist. In 30 years of disastrous operation, Dine’ and Hopi communities in Arizona have been ravaged by Peabody’s coal mining, which has taken land from and forcibly relocated thousands of families, has drained 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!* Ignoring protests from Dineh and Hopi communities and their allies, the U.S. Government (Office of Surface Mining) has permitted Peabody Energy to extend it’s massive strip-mining operations until 2026 or until the coal is gone. 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, operating mines throughout North America, South America, and Australia and is the twelfth largest coal exporter. In addition Peabody is proposing new coal-fired power plants in several states. Peabody’s coal mining will exacerbate already devastating environmental and cultural impacts on local communities and significantly add fuel to the fire of the current 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 movement that can help bridge cultures, issues and nations.

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

Ways you can support:

Join the Caravan & Be Self-Sufficient! By joining one of the volunteer work crews, 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 & mauls dramatically increases your effectiveness as a work crew!

Read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide: All direct, on-land supporters of Black Mesa are required to thoroughly read over and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & 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 what to expect, what to bring, how to be adequately prepared, background 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 & basic requests by these communities, that each person is safe and accounted for, and that we have your contact and emergency contact info should an emergency arise. It is of the utmost importance that each caravan participant understand and respect the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Please print out & 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.
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, Flagstaff, Colorado, Ithaca, NY, and the San Francisco’s Bay Area. The meeting locations and dates will be posted at the BMIS website as coordinators set them up. This caravan will be collaborating with the annual Clan Dyken Fall Food & 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, 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 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. 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.

We can’t wait to see you in November!Give Back To Mother 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 in their Struggle for Life and Land who are targeted by & resisting unjust large-scale coal mining operations and forced relocation policies of the US government.
Black Mesa Indigenous Support
P.O. Box 23501, Flagstaff, Arizona 86002
Message Voice Mail: 928.773.8086
Email: blackmesais@gmail.com
Web: www.blackmesais.org

Cause Announcement from Dooda (No) Desert Rock

Cause Announcement from Dooda (No) Desert Rock

GREAT NEWS folks: US EPA Environmental Appeals Board Remands PSD Permit for the desert rock energy project! Celebration information coming forth! Here’s another opportunity for you to contribute to DDR, we need your help!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 25, 2009

Contact: Elouise Brown, Dooda (NO) Desert Rock Committee President, (505) 947-6159

DOODA (NO) DESERT ROCK RELIEF AT US EPA ENVIRONMENTAL APPEALS BOARD PSD PERMIT DECISION
“We are relieved to hear that the US EPA Environmental Appeals Board finally granted the agency’s request to take back the clean air permit for the failed Desert Rock Power Plant. It confirms our position that the initial permit grant was ill-considered and premature,” said Elouise Brown, President of Dooda Desert Rock. The organization, a grassroots Navajo effort to block a third coal-fired power plant in the Four Corners area, continues to resist and have a very active encampment for almost three years.

“The appeals board decision confirms our belief, echoed in the British news magazine The Economist, that Desert Rock is dead. Recent efforts in Congress to freeze the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to deal with carbon dioxide as a pollutant shows that Big Coal also recognizes that polluting energy is on its way out. We have a specific reason for gratitude at the return of the permit,” Brown said.

“When the air permit was initially under consideration the San Francisco Region 9 US EPA office found a study that indicates that the two existing power plants are adversely affecting the health of Navajos in the Shiprock Area. Cold weather and the Hogback formation pull pollution down into Shiprock and that causes Navajos to seek medical treatment for respiratory illness at rates far higher than the rest of the population in the Four Corners area. Children and the elderly are affected at a rate of ten times the rest of the population. The EPA warned the Bureau of Indian Affairs about the situation and told it to act, but it did nothing. We want something done about existing health risks now.”

“While we believe that the power plant is dead, the debate continues. There are many issues to address, including the fact that ordinary Navajos would get no economic benefit from the plant because local infrastructure was ignored in planning. At minimum, we want the health issue addressed first, and in a way that satisfies us that the health of Navajos is being protected. If anyone doubts what is going on in Shiprock, just drive north toward Shiprock on a cold day.”

Navajos Observe 30th Anniversary of Uranium Spill

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

CHURCH ROCK, N.M.—Community members and environmental activists commemorated July 16 as the 30th anniversary of a massive uranium tailings spill that Navajo President Joe Shirley Jr. called “the largest peacetime accidental release of radioactive contaminated materials in the history of the United States.”

The accident occurred when an earthen dam, operated by the United Nuclear Corp., failed and let loose 94 million gallons of toxic wastewater into the north fork of the Rio Puerco on Navajo Nation lands. Within days, contaminated tailings liquid was found 50 miles downstream in Arizona.

About 100 Navajos and non-Navajos, including members of the Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment (MASE) and other environmental groups, walked a five-mile stretch through the remote mesa lands of Church Rock to the site of the July 16, 1979 spill. They stopped at Larry King’s ranch along New Mexico Highway 566 for a speech by the Navajo president.

http://www.reznetnews.org/article/navajos-observe-30th-anniversary-uranium-spill-36890

BLACK TIDE

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

Meanwhile the Kingston plant was incinerating 5 million tons of coal every year and dumping the ash at the edge of the river. Every so often, bulldozers would sculpt bottom ash, the heavy and coarse material left in the furnaces, and dirt into the dike, raising it a few feet one year and a few feet more another year, then add interior barriers until it was actually several ponds—cells, in the jargon—enclosed by one massive levee. It grew longer and wider and higher, but the sides were always seeded with grass so that after more than fifty years it had come to resemble a well-manicured mesa, standing upwards of sixty feet high on eighty-four acres of riverbank. And if a little ash water seeped out, which it had for decades, or part of the dike blew out, which it did in 2003, the TVA dutifully patched the walls and mopped up the puddles, and nobody fretted about it because nobody paid it much mind.

The dike was not merely breached. It did not spring a leak. It collapsed, most of the northern and western walls disintegrating into mud and mush just before one o’clock in the morning on December 22. When it fell away, the wet ash behind it—more than a billion gallons of gray slurry, a hundred times more than the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez—gushed out with the fury of a reservoir bursting through a dam, which, really, was exactly what it was.

But it’s still filthy. Getting it out of the ground, depending on the method used, is at best dirty and dangerous and at worst ecologically ruinous. Washing it—literally cleaning it—is a grimy process that often involves filling valleys and hollows with lakes of poisonous black water held back by dikes not unlike the one that collapsed at Kingston. Burning it releases an assortment of toxins that, according to one study, kill an estimated 24,000 people each year—people who, on average, die fourteen years before they otherwise would have. The Kingston plant, for instance, primarily uses a low-sulfur coal and has scrubbers to capture nitrogen oxides, yet in 2007 its stacks still vented approximately 50,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 12,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, 1,700 tons of hydrochloric acid, 329 tons of sulfuric acid, and ten tons of ammonia, as well as lesser (though not insignificant) amounts of arsenic, barium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, selenium, vanadium, and zinc—all of which, in case that sounds like a multivitamin, are not things anyone should be breathing. That’s the inventory from only nine furnaces in east Tennessee; there are 1,470 more incinerating coal in 616 other power plants across the country—roughly a third of which have no pollution controls at all. Finally, there is carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas that is helping steam the planet to perhaps catastrophic temperatures; coal burned in the United States each year releases about 2 billion tons of CO2, a full third of the nation’s entire output of that particular gas.

http://men.style.com/gq/features/landing?id=content_9277

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit for the Desert Rock Energy Facility

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

In 2004, Sithe Global Power, LLC. proposed construction of the Desert Rock Energy Facility, a new 1500 megawatt coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation tribal reservation, approximately 25 miles southwest of Farmington, New Mexico. In consideration of over 1,000 oral and written comments received during an extended public comment period in 2006, EPA made a final decision on July 31, 2008 to issue a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit for this facility. The administrative record for the initial permit is available through regulations.gov. See docket EPA-R09-OAR-2007-1110.Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

Following EPA’s final permit decision, several parties appealed that decision to the Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB). The Desert Rock Energy Company can not begin construction of the facility until this appeal process is completed. Documents filed in the appeal are available in the Desert Rock Energy Company, LLC docket on the EAB’s website.

On January 7, 2009 EPA notified the EAB that it was withdrawing a portion of our permitting decision for further consideration. Following the withdrawal EPA prepared an addendum to the statement of basis for the permit which addresses the issue of whether a final PSD permit for the Desert Rock Energy Company should contain emissions limitations for carbon dioxide. EPA requested public comments on this addendum from January 22, 2009 through March 25, 2009. The administrative record for the addendum to the statement of basis is available through regulations.gov. See docket EPA-R09-OAR-2009-0259. Exiting EPA (disclaimer)

http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/permit/desert-rock/index.html