Water Situation - A Plea for Help

Below you will find an article I've written which was sent to several newspapers in hopes that it will be printed. In the chance that it is not, I'm including it here for you to read, and perhaps offer solutions to the water situation presently occurring at Big Mountain. As I told the newpapers which received this, I ask nothing for myself. I ask for help for the Dine'h in Arizona. Water is the sustenance of life, and there must be a way to stop Peabody Coal from draining them dry. Many thanks in advance for your ideas and help. I also want to express my thanks and appreciation to those who provide support in my quest to make a difference as well those who helped me edit this. You know who you are.

Two questions come to mind today. Now that an American Indian holiday proposal has been passed by the House, bringing it closer to becoming a reality, and J.D. Hayworth has followed through on his promise to support its establishment, will he now turn to the needs of his constituents? Letters to him about the water situation seem to be a good idea. Also, in Indian Country Today, an article appeared June 27, 2001, regarding the protest of the Hopi and Navajo. The second question is will anyone listen.

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skyhogan

It seems many are living their lives with blinders on, not caring about the problems others face; but there are a few of us who do open our eyes, and who find it hard to fathom why others don't do the same. The case in point here is the water situation facing Dine?h at Big Mountain.

Two questions may come to mind here. Just what is Big Mountain? Who are the Dine'h? It is home to the Dine'h, one which others are trying to usurp. In the process of several decades they have faced many hardships from those who covet their land and what lies beneath. These have come primarily in the form of harassment and impoundment. In a nutshell, the Dine'h are Navajos, mostly elders, who face these problems. Most outsiders don't know about it because it has been kept very quiet in the media. It's as if they don't exist, but let me assure you that they do.

I often refer to what goes on for them at Big Mountain as the government's best kept secret. Many who live in the same state have no idea what is going on up in Northeastern Arizona. A few articles have been written but very few. But my reasons for writing this are not to discuss this history of cover-up, or to discuss what they've had to endure as mentioned above. That is for another time. There is a pressing problem now, one which a few may look at as the one way to finally force them to give up and relocate. However, this can not be done. As it has been often said, relocation is genocide.

Presently there is a very pressing situation up there, the water situation. It appears that their water sources have dried up, and they must travel long distances to get this sustainer of life both for themselves as well as for their livestock. All of this is due to Peabody Coal using the N-Aquifer to slurry its coal to the Mohave Generating Station. It's been known for a long time that this would be the result. As I understand it, it wasn't supposed to happen so soon, but it has. Now something needs to be done to alleviate the situation. The only possible answer is a moratorium on Peabody Coal's use of this N-Aquifer. Something has to be done now. People and their needs must come first.

A recent article in the Navajo Times, "Peabody in hot water again: In class action lawsuit, U.S. challenges Navajo preference hiring practices" (June 22,2001) by Nathan J. Tohtsoni, the power of Peabody Energy appears. In this article it states:

Peabody is the world's largest coal company and a leading
U.S. power marketer, fueling more than 9 percent of U.S.
and 2.5 percent of the world's electricity. The two mines
provide wages and benefits exceeding $51.2 million, and
generated $49 million in royalties, taxes and other payments.

Perhaps this is the reason that no one does anything to stop this giant. But they must stop and think about what they are doing. There is a long history of the effects of Peabody Coal in this area. The landscape has drastically changed. Many different species of plant life have disappeared from the region. In 1995 it was speculated that the N-Aquifer would run dry in 15 years. This is the primary water source for the region. Peabody uses 3.8 million gallons of water per day to slurry the coal. It has been estimated that in about 30 years Peabody will have used 70 billion gallons of the N-Aquifer for profit. But whom does this hurt? It hurts the Dine'h and traditional Hopi of the region.

Something has to be done now to reverse the ill effects of this water use. You can't put a price tag on human life. It has to come before the interests of business. Do you have any ideas how to turn the tides so that quality of life is respected? If you know the answers to this problem and question, let me know.






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copyright © June 23, 2001, by Louve14
updated 26 November 2002
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