Black Mesa

Black Mesa, mention this place to someone, and watch his or her reaction. Many don’t know Black Mesa, have no idea where it is or what goes on there, but this little piece of land in northeastern Arizona continues to struggle to survive, this land and its People. There may be many at work, trying to suppress any information from reaching the ears of the mainstream, but slowly the word gets out. The question is will the people listen?

Many, many alerts for environmental protection visit email mailboxes daily across the country, these alerts for places most everyone knows, one such alert prompting this piece to be written. It was said this would be referred to the proper bureau but no word has been heard since. Instead there is the usual silence, and Black Mesa, Arizona continues to be conspicuously missing in these environmental protection campaigns. Mention what goes on at Black Mesa, what has been going on for over thirty years, and these same people who receive these alerts in their mailboxes are dumbfounded.

Why should Black Mesa be included in these campaigns? The answer is simple yet complex, the solution desired difficult. Disrespect is rampant for the People, for their beliefs, for their way of life. Their needs continue to be ignored by the mainstream. Instead, these same People have been terrorized since Peabody Energy entered the scene in the 1960s. For many there is no electricity, no modern conveniences, the homes sacred structures, hogans, with doors facing east. This is their way of life. Yet their land continues to be raped, the People enduring many abuses, all in the name of this thing called progress, energy. Water is scarce, becoming more so as a result of Peabody Energy, something this company flatly denies, and food supplies are limited. This past year’s drought caused extreme hardship for those on the land. This continues as many fields remain unplanted due to the water situation. So what about this land called Black Mesa, and its People?

The complexities lie in the many problems faced by the People, usually on a daily basis, these People who are the guardians of this land. These abuses take many forms whether they be livestock impoundments, Accommodation Agreements, eviction notices tacked to the doors of their hogans, flyovers, the fencing in of sacred grounds, ceremonies disrupted, harassment from the Hopi Rangers and BIA, falsified arrests, kangaroo courts, scapegoats, Elders disrespected, lack of an ample number of election ballots, depletion of the N-Aquifer, collapse of the N-Aquifer…the list goes on and on. This is one long history of abuse. Many there have spent a good part of their lives fighting these injustices. But this is old news to some, a never-ending story that sadly continues, adversely affecting the lives of those who live at Black Mesa.

There has been some press about the condition of the N-Aquifer, yet still nothing is done to stop its destruction. Many continue to try as can be seen in the work of Black Mesa Trust, support from other groups, who work tirelessly, but still they are few. To read what has been published, to study the facts, many questions arise as to why there is no general outrage at the depletion of this water source depended on by so many. The latest studies by the OSM are outdated, going back to 1997.  There are several sites, these not being the only ones available, to visit to read about this total disregard for the needs of the People:

     Beautiful Spring Speaks: A Resolution to Save the Navajo Aquifer
     Black Mesa
     Drawdown – Chapter 3
     Holes and cracks scar Black Mesa landscape (in Indian Country Today)

It is interesting to note that Peabody Energy continues to fool the general public, even winning awards for what they do, and generating the usual propaganda to blind the public to its true intentions. One prime example is Stewardship>>Arizona Activities>>Publications. There is mention of the planting of “cultural seedlings” on one of the pages. What’s interesting about this is Peabody bulldozed many plants indigenous to the area early on in an attempt to force out the Dine’h. Call it a little eco terrorism. It can be seen in the documentary film, Broken Rainbow (1985). Another site to ponder is interior announces best reclaimed coal sites in past 25 years. The deceit continues to spread widely, the truth of what goes on there shrouded in mystery.

The European Urgency Resolution passed in 2000, but has been ignored since its passage. It has done nothing other than gather dust. The US Government has flatly ignored it, acting as if it doesn't exist. This resolution asked that the US Government do several things, none of which has it done. It asked that the government see to it that law enforcement cease the harassment of the People, that it respect the Dine’h People, that congressional hearings be mandated to re-assess the impact of the strip mining on the land and its People, that it create programs to help those who have already been relocated, that the Dine’h and Hopi “human rights, development, cultural and religious rights and their treatment by the United States” be recognized. There was more, but nothing has been done on the part of the US Government. This Urgency Resolution fell on deaf ears, and continues to do so.

So those who reside at Black Mesa continue to face many hardships. No one says anything. It is allowed to continue. Questions arise because there is no support from the outside from most of these environmental defense groups. There has been only one, the Arizona Sierra Club based in Flagstaff. Is it because this is on Indigenous land or because of this “land dispute” that nothing appears on the outside except on those few rare occasions to quell the outrage of the supporters, of the Dine’h People themselves and of their traditional Hopi neighbors? Or are these People just not important enough to warrant such a campaign to help save their land and their way of life? Is it because these People are Indigenous Americans? What power does this company, Peabody Western Energy, exert on the government? It has the resources, naturally, from the rape of this land for its low sulfur coal, depleting the 3.3 million gallons of water daily from the N-Aquifer to slurry this coal 273 miles away to the Mohave Generating Station, this dirty energy source used to power the electric companies in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles to name just a few. It has the resources to control others in power. After all, greed rules those in power, those who could act to bring an end to the blatant disregard of human rights should they have a conscience.

Maybe I’m just ignorant, and don’t understand this all. Maybe my code of ethics is way off base. Or maybe I’m right; something needs to be done, not in a week, not in a month, not down the road, but now. This saga has gone on for much too long, and the consequences will prove to be disastrous not only for the People who reside at Black Mesa but also for everyone else.

Still those laws remaining on the books, PL 93-531 and PL 104-301, those that ignore the rights and the needs of the People, only favoring those others ruled by the money to be made no matter the cost, must both be repealed. The Bennett Freeze that was once in committee in Congress (107th), the Committee on Resources, no longer graces the Committee's agenda.  It has been allowed to fall through the cracks yet again.  Its disappearance demonstrates another flagrant disregard for the rights ignored of those who reside at Black Mesa. It is the human rights ignored by these laws that bring such hardship on all concerned. This black omnipresence, Peabody Energy, continues to hover over all who live there, this plague that wrecks havoc on the land and its People.

This is no legend. This involves real People, People whose human and religious rights have long been violated. This is about survival, about respect both for the People and for the land. In good conscience it cannot continue. No acceptable answer exists other than to stop this scourge that continues to flagrantly disrupt the lives of all those who live at Black Mesa once and for all.

There was a beginning long ago. Will there ever be an end? No, the terrorism continues on the land with stealth Hopi Rangers on the move, confiscating tools needed to cut firewood needed to warm homes during the cold winter season, issuing citations, making threats, causing more hardships. The struggle continues in efforts to survive at the Altar....




the wolf is my messenger



"We will be known by the tracks
we leave behind."
Dakota proverb



For access to other pages at this site, please use the dropdown menu below.




copyright © 1 june 2003, by louve14
revised 5 december 2004

all rights reserved