Honoring 40 Years of Resistance on Big Mountain

Dust masks for the continued 30 mph winds that dirtied our  kitchen and tested our sanity.

Dust masks for the continued 30 mph winds that dirtied our kitchen and tested our sanity.

May 2014

The 40 year-long struggle to break the grip of Peabody Coal on the Diné residents of Black Mesa was honored this May at the Big Mountain Spring Healing Camp. The camp was held on Black Mesa, on the Navajo Reservation in so-called Arizona and brought together local resistors, community members, activists and trainers from around the region and country. Over the course of the camp participants attended workshops, exchanged stories, learned about the Diné way of life, went out on work crews and built connections across boundaries.

In solidarity with the continued resistance, Seeds of Peace made the journey to Black Mesa to provide food and logistical support for the camp. As always it was a humbling and inspirational experience. Unlike past caravans and camps we had a fairly slim crew, which made the work a bit more demanding. Not to mention four days of sustained 30 mph winds – it took a substantial amount of patience and work to make sure everyone was fed.

Fortunately there were a few very dedicated Diné grandmothers that took the time to help us out. At times we overlooked the most important part of the meal, the fry bread, which the grandmothers effortlessly prepared in time for the meal. In addition to being a huge help in the kitchen, they provided a salient example of how not to be stressed out trying to feed all the supporters and elders. More importantly, we gained invaluable knowledge about Diné food and life by watching the repetitive motion of forming fry breads, and listening to stories of their resistance. Even though few of us were able to attend the workshops or trainings, it felt like we learned just as much, or even more, working with the grandmothers.

Daily lessons in the subtleties of perfect fry bread making

Daily lessons in the subtleties of perfect fry bread making

For some of us in SOP it was our third or fourth time returning to the land. Certainly, we were aware that SOP had been supporting the resistance for many years. That history didn’t seem to sink in until morning circle one day when one of the elders talked about how SOP had been supporting Big Mountain resistors for 26 years – which for some reason gave it more relevance and power. Throughout the week we heard stories about gatherings from years past when it was much more difficult for resistors and supporters. In that context it made our participation feel sustained and part of a very real, and storied, resistance.

While the original intent of this camp had an action component, we learned on the first day that, for a variety of reasons (most notably concerns over potential repercussions to Big Mountain residents) post-camp actions were off the table for the time being.  Organizers instead focused on healing – through ceremony, work, discussions and food. For us it was an honor to continue supporting the struggle for indigenous sovereignty on Black Mesa and we hope to return soon.

Three sheep slaughtered. We feasted.

Grumble carves up some sheep.

Water. More important than food.

Water. More important than food.

 

2014 Newsletter

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Big Mountain Spring Training Camp, May 16th-23rd

BIG MOUNTAIN SPRING TRAINING CAMP MAY 16th-23rd, 2014 BIG MOUNTAIN, DINEH NATION

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“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 can be found below*

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

  • NVDA techniques

  • Decolonial visioning

  • 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

Exciting workshops and trainings keep getting confirmed for the Big Mountain Spring Training camp.

Narindrankura Nadine (To Nizhoni Ani): “Non-Violent Blockades”

Julius Badonii: “Strategic Organizing”

Leona Morgan (Diné No Nukes): “Our Nuclear New Mexico”

Janene Yazzie (Sixth World Solutions): “Water Rights and the Future of the Navajo Nation”

@Autumn Chacon: “Pirate Radio”

Andrew Curley (Navajo Times): “Coal Mining and Energy Policy on Navajo Land

@Amanda S. Lickers (Reclaim Turtle Island): “Media and Self-Representation”

“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.

Goals:

*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

Logistics:

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

Earth First! 2014 Organizer’s Conference and Winter Rendezvous, February 19-24

Everglades Earth First! is excited to be hosting the Earth First! Organizer’s Conference and Winter Rendezvous, February 19 – 24!  For those of you who attended the last OC, remember how cold southern Ohio was?  Well don’t fret, the 2014 OC will be held in the sunny subtropics, in the swamps, the land of the alligator and the gar, the cypress, the slash pines—the area known by its colonizers as Florida.  Panthers, hand sized spiders, bird sized mosquitoes, saw grass, palmettos, pythons—its the one and only Everglades!

The exact location will be announced as we get closer to the date. There will be strategizing as the Earth First! movement, storytelling of past campaigns and actions as well as an exciting array of workshops, skill shares, and discussions.

For more information, visit Everglades Earth First!

Gathering: June 3-9 Honoring the Resistance at Big Mountain/Black Mesa

Greetings, We’d like to update you on and request your support for the upcoming gathering on Black Mesa that is focused on decolonizing the mind/mine.  The gathering will include workshops and conversations between and among the Big Mountain/Black Mesa resistance community and other frontline resistance  communities from around the country, Native youth organizer caucus, cultural sharing, work parties, an elders’ circle, a community meal, and a concert with Rebel Diaz, Bronx-based hip hop artists and youth organizers, and Shining Soul, grassroots hip hop duo from occupied O’odham  land in Southern Arizona.

There will be  participants from a wide array of struggles: Palestinian Youth Movement, (Un)Occupy Albuquerque, Hawaiian Sovereignty movement, Ka Lei Maile Ali’i, Radical Action for Mountain Peoples Survival (RAMPS), Seventh Native American Generation (SNAG), Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, Sixth World Indigenous Peoples Organization.*Participation for this gathering is currently full.  There are, however, other ways to support.

*We are seeking financial support for the gathering.  Funds will go to: Indigenous organizers and other frontline communities’ travel, documenting of the event by Native Youth Media Collective, Outta Your Backpack Media, sheep for meals, and supplies for on-land work projects.  We are asking folks for help in spreading this Rocket Hub link around on social media to fund the travel for Rebel Diaz from NYC.  To be clear, funds raised will be used  more broadly for many other aspects of the gathering (like those listed above), but since Rebel Diaz is well-known and has high travel costs, we made a special initiative to get them to the gathering.As always, you can send checks to “Black Mesa Indigenous Support” at PO Box 23501 Flagstaff, AZ 86002 OR donate online here.If you donate online, don’t forget to put BMIS in the designation box.Thank you for your continued support!

With Gratitude,The Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective: Berkley, Liza, Derek, Hallie, & Tree

Save the Date: Utah Tar Sands Action Camp July 24-29

LEARN MORE AND REGISTER AT CanyonCountryActionCamp.org

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*July 24-29: A Direct action training camp in southern Utah (exact location TBA)

Other affiliated events:

*July 19-21: Downstream Community Leadership Training in Moab, Utah (sponsored by Before it Starts). Find out more at beforeitstarts.org

*July 18-20: Rising Tide National Gathering (location TBA). Find out more at http://www.risingtidenorthamerica.org

As the prospect of tar sandsoil shale, and other forms of extreme energy development threatens to wreak permanent havok on the health and wellbeing of Utah’s people and environment, grassroots organizations and community members from across the region are organizing to fight back.

Large energy corporations from out of state are flocking to Utah in an attempt to convert our public lands into a vast testing ground for extremely high risk extraction technologies like tar sands and oil shale mining. The Canadian petroleum corporation US Oil Sands, Inc is targeting the remote state lands of eastern Utah to be the first tar sands mining project in the USA. If companies like US Oil Sands can prove that these types of dirty extraction operations are economically viable in Utah, then more tar sands and oil shale projects will spring up across the region. Conventional political and regulatory avenues for public opposition have been nearly exhausted, and the proposed mine at PR Spring, north of Moab, has been given the green-light from the state to begin commercial operations, it is now clear that this project can only be stopped by organizing and taking direct action together as impacted communities.

Please join us late this July for a week of trainings, strategizing, and action to continue building the collective grassroots power we need to fight back against the corporate take-over of our public lands, our diminishing water resources, and our common wellbeing.

RAMPS Campaigner Glen Collins Sentenced to 60 Days for KXL Action

Dedicated activist and good friend of Seeds of Peace, Glen Collins, is in Smith County Jail in Texas tonight after pleading guilty to charges of trespassing and illegal dumping stemming from his blockade of the Keystone XL pipeline last December. In one of the most striking actions in the Tar Sands Blockade campaign, Glen locked himself with Matt Almonte to a concrete barrel inside the KXL pipeline. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail – the longest sentence of the three activists arrested that day. We are currently waiting to find out how the 3 weeks Glen spent in jail following his action will be counted against his sentence. Due to the overwhelming weirdness of the Texas legal system, it’s uncertain how much time he has left to serve.

Glen has checked in from jail and is doing fine as far as jail goes. We are supporting him in every way we can from up here in WV. To help support Glen, please donate to the RAMPS general fund which we are using to pay for collect calls from jail, commissary and sending him books to help pass the time.

Glen took action in Texas as a part of our deep commitment to true solidarity, made of action, not words across all struggles against extraction. As he said at the time, “I’m barricading this pipe with Tar Sands Blockade today to say loud and clear to the extraction industry that our communities and the resources we depend on for survival are not collateral damage. This fight in East Texas against tar sands exploitation is one and the same as our fight in the hollers of West Virginia. Dirty energy extraction doesn’t just threaten my home; it threatens the collective future of the planet.”

Seeds of Peace to support Organization-Based Gathering on Black Mesa

 

[In early June, Seeds of Peace will be returning to Black Mesa to support an exciting gathering aimed at fostering deeper connections between the Diné struggle for self-determination, cultural survival, and the right to remain on ancestral homelands, and other social, migrant, racial, environmental, and climate justice movements around the country. Please support this important gathering by donating to BMIS at supportblackmesa.org]

The following is cross-posted from BMIS:

Organization-Based Gathering on Black Mesa
Led by Big Mountain/Black Mesa community members, BMIS is engaged in a collaborative process with members of (un)Occupy Albuquerque, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, Palestinian Youth Movement, No More Deaths, and members of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement to plan a land-based gathering on Black Mesa in early June.  This gathering will center the Big Mountain/Black Mesa struggle for self-determination, cultural survival, the right to remain on ancestral homelands, within movements aimed at collective liberation. Led by the Black Mesa/Big Mountain resistance community’s visions of decolonization, this gathering aims to more deeply link their struggle with other social, migrant, racial, environmental, and climate justice movements.  This invitation-based gathering will include work parties, workshops, discussion, art and cultural sharing and aims to generate tangible ways to build cross-movement connections. (Note: this is a collaborative process and planning partners from frontline resistance and solidarity organizations are determining the scope of participants by doing outreach and invitation.  BMIS is working on the logistical end of things and is respecting the tone of the gathering, which is geared towards grassroots movement organizations, not individuals. BMIS is still, of course, grateful for our supporter network and exciting to continue building with you!)

How you can support:

Because this exciting gathering differs from other BMIS gatherings and the participants have already been determined, there are other ways for the BMIS supporter network to plug in and support.  This is an opportunity to move your resources, as folks who have had the rich experience of spending time with the on-land resistance communities, to enable folks from other frontline resistance movements to connect to the 40 year-long struggle for self-determination on Black Mesa/Big Mountain.   The gathering builds on the legacy of diverse support and cross movement building with members of the Xicano movement, Farm Workers, anti-Contra organizations, Black Liberation movement, Japanese and U.S anti-nuclear movements, and peace movements who participated in the Big Mountain support network.  Currently, we see the anti-extraction and climate justice movements centering Indigenous issues and sacred sites and treaty struggles gaining visibility; this is a great moment to foster these cross-movement connections on Black Mesa/Big Mountain.  We are asking for your financial support to help fund travel for the various organizations who will attend.  Checks made payable to “Black Mesa Indigenous Support” with “Organization-based Gathering” in memo line.

For Your Reading Pleasure…

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Appalachia Resist!, Ohio Residents Shut Down a Frack Waste Storage Facility in Ohio with Monopod and Banner Drops

[Cross-Posted from tarsandsblockade.org]

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Appalachia Resist!, an organization recently formed to address exploitative gas and oil extraction in Appalachia, along with Ohio residents and other environmental organizations have blockaded and disrupted operations at Greenhunter Water’s hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” waste storage site along the Ohio River in Washington County. Nate Ebert, a 33-year-old Athens County, OH resident and member of Appalachia Resist!, ascended a 30 foot monopod (pole), anchored to a truck that was dropping off toxic frack waste at the facility, preventing all trucks carrying frack waste from entering the site! Two banners have also been hung from two different tanks holding fracking waste. The main gate to the facility has been locked shut by activist. All gates have been blocked and all action at the site has been halted. Full press release here!

The mining of carcinogenic bitumen is powered by gas obtained from hydraulic fracturing which can NOT be done safely and should not be done at all. This is NOT a debate. We stand in opposition not only to TransCanada and their Keystone XL Pipeline but to all corporations and entities who function only by the direct suffering of others. Members of the blockade have traveled to Southern Ohio to participate in an action with an unprecedented show of unity joining members of the following groups: Appalachia Resist!, Radical Action for Mountain Peoples’ Survival (RAMPS), a coalition of indigenous leaders including representatives from No Line 9 and the Unis’tot’en Camp, Tar Sands Blockade, Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, and dozens of Earth First! groups from across the country.

“Our governor, legislature, and regulatory agencies have all failed in their obligation to protect Ohioans from the predatory gas industry,” said Ebert. “Greenhunter wants to use our water sources as dumping grounds for their toxic, radioactive waste. We are here to send a message that the people of Ohio and Appalachia will not sit idly by and watch our homes be turned into a sacrifice zone!”

Tar Sands Blockade stands in solidarity with Appalachia Resist, Ohio residents, and all those fighting dangerous and exploitative resource extraction world wide.

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