Starting on January 6, Seeds of Peace began a month long walk with Nihígaal bee Iiná, a Diné youth group undertaking a year long prayer walk to the four sacred mountains on Dinétah, also known as the Navajo Nation. Winding more than 200 miles through the Eastern agencies and checkerboard Navajo trust lands, our caravan visited families, chapter houses and communities being affected by the onset of the next big U.S. oil boom from fracking. It was evident from the beginning how powerful the simple act of walking was, and being invited to join was a huge honor. This journey was only the first leg of the walk, which started near Bloomfield, NM and ended at Tsoodzil (Mount Taylor) near Grants, NM.
Our role, of course, was one of support. As we were en route to the first morning of the walk our kitchen bus, loaded with food and supplies, decided that its prodigious career as a movement work-horse was over. The engine seized and our dream of an easy, self-contained kitchen to work in was over. For three days we sat on the shoulder of Highway 64, trying at first to find someone who could fix the bus, and finally trying to find someone to take it off our hands. In a matter of hours we stripped a decade of movement history into an empty shell and returned our equipment in a rented truck back to our base in Moab, UT. We paired our kitchen down to a bare minimum and returned to the walk three days late, a bit weary but just as determined to support this amazing journey.
The local support that we encountered along the way made for a surprisingly stress-less affair. As the walk progressed through the rural communities, sacred sites, and oil fields, we experienced much gratitude and solidarity from local Diné communities. For the first three weeks we were able to use Chapter house kitchens, freeing us from hours of equipment setup and water hauling. It also gave the walkers a warm sleeping space and a comfortable environment to engage with families and community members. In the spectrum of support work for a walk, it could not have been any easier.
The walk itself was organized in response to a major increase in oil and gas exploration and fracking in the San Juan Basin in the last three years. The basin encompasses Northwestern New Mexico and Southwest Colorado, and is referred to by many as the “next Bakken” (currently the largest oil play in the lower 48 states). The area around Chaco Canyon is especially hard hit with development. Some days, the walkers were forced to wear respirators because the air was so toxic. Many residents of the region were caught off guard, being tricked into signing agreements that forfeit their mineral rights to oil companies or living on family allotments where only a small percentage of the people living there have to sign. Unknowingly, they helped unleash a boom-and-bust industry known for its violence, pollution and impoverishment. In the three short years since drilling began reports of sexual violence, respiratory disease and water pollution have seen a marked increase. Members of Nihígaal bee Iiná are now fighting back, documenting the experiences of community members and listening to ideas on ways to slow the progress and stop proposed infrastructure projects like the Piñon Pipeline. By amplifying the voices of those affected by this boom (as well as coal and uranium extraction), the walkers hope to ignite a movement in an area often ignored by a mainstream and mostly white environmental movement.
Experiencing this journey through the lens of a food supporter gave an intriguing perspective. Working with elders along the way we were reminded of the truly powerful medicinal properties of preparing and eating traditional Diné foods – corn, squash, beans, mutton and even horse. We were able to add a bit of fusion to these traditional foods, like mutton pot pie and elk tamales, which was received enthusiastically by elders and youth alike. In most events that we support, the role of food is always pretty clear – we take care of feeding people so they can engage in other, often more “important” work. This journey was different. It was obvious how central these foods are in healing people and the land, and in the larger process of decolonization. Making food was honored as important work alongside prayer, ceremony, and engaging with the people affected by this oil boom. We were very grateful to do this support work. It felt like true solidarity, and folks made that obvious before and after every meal.
What was more striking about the journey was the response to the walk from the larger community. Most folks in Dinétah don’t have the time or resources to build and wage effective campaigns against the oil invasion. So, Nihígaal bee Iiná is doing just that. The response from elders and their families along the way was nearly unanimous – that these brave women and warriors are the generation that will turn the tide and decolonize a nation and tribal government deeply entrenched in resource extraction. Restoring the idea of Hózhó – living in a manner that strives to create and maintain balance, harmony, beauty and order- can best describe what this walk is doing. Their activism could not come soon enough.
Over the next year the group and their supporters will walk to each of the three other sacred mountains; Dibé Nitsaa (Mount Hesperus), Doko’oosliid (San Francisco Peaks) and Tsisnaasjini’ (Mount Blanca), beginning on the equinox (March and September) and the solstice (June). Seeds of Peace will be supporting some, but not all, of the subsequent walks. To find out more, or to possibly join us on this amazing journey send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay updated and find out more about Nihígaal bee Iiná at https://www.facebook.com/walkforexistence
Dear Friends and Supporters,
The Seeds of Peace Collective is seeking financial support for an upcoming walk across Dinétah, also known as the Navajo Nation. The walk is being organized by Nihígaal bee Iiná, a group of Dineh youth, to celebrate resistance and to “document both the beauty of land and people and how this is being desecrated by resource extraction.”
You can also, or alternatively, donate directly to Nihígaal bee Iiná, the group organizing the walk.
Donations to Nihígaal bee Iiná will also go towards food and other logistical expenses, as well as gear and media/educational materials.
For three weeks, starting January 6, 2015, participants will trek across the eastern portion of the Navajo Reservation – from Farmington, NM to Gallup, NM, approximately 120 miles. Seeds of Peace will be providing logistical support for the walk – including food, shelter, and water – but we need help to make it happen! We will be using our vegetable-oil-powered school bus on the walk, staying ahead of the group and providing hot meals and shelter for participants. It will be the height of winter on Dinétah, and conditions will be difficult for all parties, making logistical support that much more critical.
Any amount that you can contribute will be greatly appreciated, and will be used to directly support this important struggle.
We realize that you may be short on funds this time of year, but making contributions to small, frontline struggles like this is critical to building a powerful grassroots movement for climate justice. As you know, organizations working on the ground, like Seeds of Peace, do not have access to the halls of money and power and rely entirely on small donations from individuals like yourself.
*PLEASE HELP US MAKE THIS HAPPEN BY DONATING, EVEN A SMALL AMOUNT, OR FORWARDING THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES AND PUTTING IT OUT ON YOUR NETWORKS.*
Thanks! And Happy Holidays,
The Seeds of Peace Collective
P.S.: We are also seeking volunteers to help with cooking and other logistical work for the walk! If you find yourself in the southwest around the new year, and want to come help make this happen, send us an email email@example.com, or call 406-241-9932 for more info.
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.
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.
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BIG MOUNTAIN SPRING TRAINING CAMP MAY 16th-23rd, 2014 BIG MOUNTAIN, DINEH NATION
“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
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.
*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
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!
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
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!
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
LEARN MORE AND REGISTER AT CanyonCountryActionCamp.org
*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 sands, oil 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.
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:
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.