Before we begin — where have we been?
The behind-the-scenes work for the summer caravan is in full swing, and the on-the-ground will work will begin shortly. First, we thought it might be nice to update you on what we have been up to for the past few months.
BLACK MESA FALL CARAVAN
In November of 2011, Seeds of Peace headed to the high desert of North Central Arizona to support the ongoing land struggle of the Dine (Navajo) people. For decades they have been under near constant threat of forced removal and relocation from Peabody Coal, the Phoenix based coal giant that owns the mineral rights to huge portions of the Hopi/Navajo nation. Our grease powered psuedo-kitchen bus made the trip from Missoula, MT to Cayenta, AZ with a crew of 5 and 200 gallons of processed vegetable oil. The trip proceeded with few problems, which is not always the case with SOP adventures.
The annual fall caravan is organized by Black Mesa Indigenous Support and brings hundreds of (mostly young) activists and organizers from around the country to be immersed in the Dine way of life for 1-2 (often more) weeks. Those that make the journey are educated on the complex and dynamic nature of the land dispute between the traditional Dine people, the subsidized Hopi tribal government and Peabody Coal, one of the largest mining companies on the planet. Supporters are assigned to a family on the Mesa and live with them for at least one week to help the family prepare for the winter by repairing hogans, distributing donated food, herding sheep, mending fences, collecting firewood and any other tasks the family can’t get to. Dont forget though: THIS IS SOLIDARITY, NOT CHARITY!
Seeds of Peace volunteers and collective members were active at the base camp, along with 20-40 other supporters, which was hosted by the Black Goat family this year. SOP prepared 3 hearty meals per day for the supporters and the Black Goat family for the week, in addition to a large feast for 200 on the first and last days of the week long caravan. It was a truly humbling experience and Seeds will continue to support the struggle for land rights on the Dine (Navajo) nation for as long as it continues. Contact Seeds of Peace or Black Mesa Indigenous Support for more info or if you are interested in making the journey to AZ this fall to support this inspiring struggle.
RESIST ALEC (Phoenix, AZ)
Immediately following the fall caravan on Black Mesa, the Seeds crew hitched up the bus and traveled four hours south to the polluted metropolis of Phoenix. Despite the obvious downsides to this mega-city in the desert, we met some incredible individuals who are doing awesome things in their community. From November 30-December 3, activists and organizers greeted the American Legislative Exchange Council with an unwelcoming message: Expose ALEC and their racist legislation! The first day roughly 200 demonstrators marched through Tempe and then tried to enter the ALEC convention center. We were met with a sizeable police presence. Several arrests were made, and dozens of demonstrators pepper-sprayed for no apparent reason. Seeds of Peace was on the front lines with a cart full of food and water, keeping everyone hydrated and energized in the blazing winter sun. The first day was largely a bust, but still inspiring and energetic. Later that night we provided food for the seven people jailed and the supporters that came to cheer them on as they left the confines of Maricopa county jail.
The week proceeded with workshops, classes and one very well orchestrated non-violent direct action. Five activists targeted the Salt River Project, and locked down in the entrance of their corporate headquarters in an effort to bring awareness to SRP’s practice of using coal from the Dine (Navajo) reservation for their power generation. Seeds was their to provide food and water, and some documentation, for the roughly 100 activists that showed up.