Reaping what we Sow

Some 30,000 years ago, the Paleo-Indians, the ancestors of Native Americans, followed herds of animals from Siberia across Beringia, a land bridge connecting Asia and North America, into Alaska. By 8,000 B.C.E., these peoples had spread across North and South America. The tribal peoples were diverse but all Indians lived in organized societies with political structures, moral codes, and religious beliefs. The idea of private land ownership was foreign; all land was held communally and worked collectively. Most of the Four Corners region belongs to semi-autonomous Native American nations, the largest of which is the Navajo Nation, followed by Hopi, Ute, and Zuni.

400px-4corner4 CORNERS REGION:  The United States acquired the four corners region from Mexico after the end of the Mexican–American War in 1848. Colorado Territory was created in 1861 and in 1863 Congress created Arizona Territory from the western part of New Mexico Territory. Gold was discovered in California just days before Mexico ceded the land to the United States in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Under the treaty, Mexico recognized the U.S. annexation of Texas, and agreed to sell California and the rest of its territory north of the Rio Grande for $15 million plus the assumption of certain damages claims.  The people of these newly created states share jurisdiction for the region along with  the Navajo Nation and Mountain Ute Tribe. Tribal nations living within the 4 Corners region  include the Hopi and other Ute.

 Until 1920 citizens had been free to prospect for minerals on public lands and allowed  to stake claims to both minerals and surrounding lands for development; 1024px-Navajo_(young_boy)_2007this led to a major oil rush in the mid west and the government acted swiftly to withdraw lands from public use. Congress enacted the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 which dictated a system of leasing and development for mining interests on federally owned land. The discovery of oil on Navajo land in the early 1920’s resulted in pressure from American oil companies to lease Navajo land for exploration.

In the 1950s the mining interests of Peabody Western Coal and John Boyden, a bishop in the Mormon Church and a former U.S. attorney began the strategy which would open up the coal deposit  on sacred lands of Black Mesa to major energy development. The cooperation of the tribal council of at least one of the Indian tribes on Black Mesa was required, Boyden approached the Navajo, who turned him down. He then exploited traditionalist and progressive divisions between the Hopi through his knowledge of both tribal council politics and the Bureau of Indian Affairs policies and created a new tribal council favourable to Peabody. In 1964, Peabody Energy (then Peabody Western Coal),  CoalMine_byBertKaufmannsigned a contract with the Navajo Tribe and in 1966 with the Hopi Tribe, allowing the company mineral rights and use of an aquifer to transport water. The contract was negotiated by attorney John  Boyden, who claimed to be representing the Hopi Tribe while actually on the payroll of Peabody. It offered unusually advantageous terms for Peabody and was approved despite widespread opposition. The two tribal councils split a royalty rate of thirty cents a ton at a time when the government royalty rate for coal extracted on public lands was $1.50 a ton).

The leases were signed secretly by the tribal councils and the company with no tribal referendum on either side. John Boyden remained the Hopi’s lawyer for thirty years. presenting himself as a humble country lawyer working for the Hopi pro bono. In fact his fees which totalled $2.7 million. were paid by the government out of monies held in trust for the Hopi.  One of Boydens first actions was to introduce a bill in Congress creating a special court to allow the Hopi to sue the Navajo to clear title for the coal lands.

Screen shot 2015-08-15 at 18.19.29Peabody pumped, on average, 3 million gallons of water from the Navajo Aquifer every day. The aquifer is the main source of potable groundwater for the Navajo and Hopi tribes, who use the water for farming and livestock maintenance as well as drinking and other domestic uses. The tribes have alleged that the pumping of water by Peabody Energy has caused a severe decline in potable water and the number of springs. Both tribes live in arid semi-desert and attach religious significance to water, considering it sacred; they have cultural, religious and practical objections to over-use of water. Protracted lawsuits have continued despite intermittent settlements. Peabody (Revenues  US $6.79 billion)  is seeking a lifetime permit for the lands it leased from the American tribes.

Hopi prophecies predict that when the heart of the Hopi land trust is dug up, great disturbances will develop in the balance of nature. For the Hopi, the land is sacred, the microcosmic image of the entire planet; any violations of nature in the Four Corners region will be reflected and amplified all over the Earth.

The major cities of Phoenix and Tucson are located in the Sonoran desert, the hottest desert in North America. Computer operators with a few key strokes release millions of gallons of water from the Colorado River into grapefruit orchards and cotton fields hundreds of miles away. As residents enjoy the luxury of swimming pools and fountainsScreen shot 2015-08-15 at 20.09.59 few realise that much of the energy that makes the desert “bloom” comes from the Black Mesa strip mines on an Indian reservation or that twelve thousand Navajos have been removed from their lands as a result; the largest removal of Indians in the United States since the 1880s. The unequal battle between two Indian tribes and Peabody Mining is now recognised as  an attempt to divide and conquer the native people in a determined effort to acquire 21 billion tons of coal beneath Black Mesa. Today, that coal powers cheap electricity for Los Angeles, a new Phoenix aquaduct  and the urban playground of Las Vegas. The corporate view sees only profit even at the cost of exploitation and today these urban conurbation’s are facing the same impending disaster as the tribal peoples as drought engulfs the region.

Indigenous Native American Prophecy (Elders Speak part 1)‬ Spirituality    Black Mesa Mine

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