Tag Archives: Black Mesa

5/19/2012 Bonnie Whitesinger to Mr. James Anaya, OHCHR on Human Rights Violations in Big Mountain, Black Mesa HPL

5 19 2012 Bonnie White Singer to Mr. James Anaya, OHCHR“>

8/18/2011 Navajo Times: Peabody, tribe mum on lawsuit settlement

8/18/2011 Navajo Times: Peabody, tribe mum on lawsuit settlement by Marley Shebala: The settlement of the Navajo Nation’s $1.8 billion Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act lawsuit against coal giant Peabody Energy and its partners Salt River Project and Southern California Edison was quietly announced by Peabody in a two-page statement posted on its Web site Aug. 4. The Navajo Nation was just as quiet in announcing the end of the largest damage suit in its history, although the settlement immediately grabbed national media attention.

Both the tribe and the defendants said the settlement ended a $600 million lawsuit, though the tribe had estimated total damages as high as $1.8 billion when it first filed the suit 12 years ago.

It took the Navajo Nation Council, which recently voted not to raise the royalty rate Peabody pays on Black Mesa coal, a week to issue its own one-page press release about the historic settlement.

It was a contrast to June 17, 1999, when the tribe held a press conference and issued several press releases a day after the lawsuit was filed in federal court.

Kelsey Begaye and Edward T. Begay, then Navajo Nation president and Council speaker, respectively, expressed their outrage over what they said was a conspiracy to rob the tribe of legitimate income from coal resources on Black Mesa.

The trigger was Peabody’s successful effort to prevent the Interior Department from supporting the tribe’s effort to raise royalty rates to 20 percent, nearly twice what the company considered acceptable.

“This lawsuit has been filed to right a serious wrong against the Navajo Nation and its people,” Begaye said. “The damage caused by Peabody’s influence peddling is staggering.

“Since 1984, the Navajo Nation has suffered losses of $600 million,” he said. “While the defendants reap huge and illicit profits using Navajo coal to generate electricity for homes and businesses in Southern California, Las Vegas and Arizona, thousands of Navajo homes are still without electricity.”

“We will not be cheated any longer,” Begay said. “Coal represents the Navajo Nation’s most valuable natural resource. This lawsuit will restore lost revenues to the Navajo Nation and place us on the road to achieve economic self- sufficiency for our people.

“We are not asking for a handout,” he added. “We are demanding to be compensated equitably by American corporations and treated fairly by the United States government.”

Friends again

The current leaders took a far different tone.

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians

8/27/2011 CENSORED NEWS: New Wikileaks: Forced Exiles of Native Americans and Palestinians: While the US media censored the truth, the world was watching By Brenda Norrell: The release of thousands of Wikileaks cables includes the comparison of how the colonial United States government forcibly drove Native Americans from their homes, while Israel forcibly expels Palestinians from their homes. The new Wikileaks cables reveal that while the US media was censoring the truth, the world was watching. In a diplomatic cable from the US Embassy in Kuwait released Friday, dated June 21, 2004, the US Embassy in Kuwait provides this quote from the media:

¶3. “Journey Of Tears” Mohammed Musaed Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Qabas (6/19): “The way the United States was founded is identical to the way the Zionist entity was founded. In America, Native Americans were forcibly driven away from their homes. Israel in 2004 is doing the same thing by forcibly expelling Palestinians from the West Bank, east of Jerusalem and Gaza. According to author Muneer Al-Akesh, America’s idea of exchanging a nation and a culture with another, through forcible evacuation and unjustified explanations, is in fact Israel’s historical raison d’etre. While Sharon is in Palestine, Bush is in Iraq. There is no difference.”

It is the second cable released in the past few days where US Embassies refer to media quotes about the atrocities committed by the US government and the exile of Native Americans.

A second Wikileaks cable revives an article censored by Indian Country Today. While the newspaper censored an article stating that the war in Iraq is a continuation of the atrocities inflicted on American Indians — the truth was already known around the world in Turkey.

The US Embassy in Turkey quoted Omer Ozturkmen in 2004, in the Wikileaks cable: “The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians.”

It is an important fact that Turkey knew this truth at the beginning of the Iraq war, because in the United States, this fact was being censored.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain, Ariz., longtime Navajo resister of relocation, was among the most vocal from the beginning opposing the war in Iraq. When Benally compared the war in Iraq to the forced exile and imprisonment of Navajos on the Long Walk by the US Calvary, the newspaper Indian Country Today, where I served as a staff writer, censored Benally’s comments in 2005.

Pressed to publish a correction, the newspaper refused.

Here are the censored comments:

Navajos at Big Mountain resisting forced relocation view the 19th Century prison camp of Bosque Redondo and the war in Iraq as a continuum of U.S. government sponsored terror.

Louise Benally of Big Mountain remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing the murder, rape and starvation of their family and friends.

“I think these poor children had gone through so much, but, yet they had the will to go on and live their lives. If it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t be here today.

“It makes me feel very sad and I apply this to the situation in Iraq. I wonder how the Native Americans in the combat zone feel about killing innocent lives.”

Looking at the faces of the Navajo and Apache children in the Bosque Redondo photo, Benally said, “I think the children in the picture look concerned and maybe confused. It makes me think of what the children in Iraq must be going through right now.

“The U.S. military first murders your people and destroys your way of life while stealing your culture, then forces you to learn their evil ways of lying and cheating,” Benally said.

We know now that not only were Benally’s comments censored at the time, but Native Americans and other peace activists were being stalked and spied on by law enforcement throughout the United States. The spy files of the Denver Police Department, made public, revealed that activists at Big Mountain were among those on the police watch list.

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the truth was known that when American Indians viewed torture photos in Iraq, they recalled the atrocities inflicted on Native Americans.

A US diplomatic cable in Turkey, dated May 21, 2004, states:

“The US is in Trouble in Iraq”

Omer Ozturkmen observed in the conservative Turkiye (5/21): “The fact is, US diplomacy was mistaken in planning for the post-war scenario in Iraq. The US could never imagine the kinds of problems they were going to face there. The Iraqi people were expecting to watch Saddam’s trial on TV while the president of the US focused on his re-election bid. Now, the torture photos from Iraq have recalled for the American people the long forgotten atrocities faced by American Indians. Let us see how the president will explain the loss of American lives in Iraq during his campaign. When put next to the torture the Iraqi people have suffered at the hands of the coalition, Saddam’s Halapja massacre looks mild by comparison. Those obscene photos are already being circulated among international terrorist groups to recruit fighters against the United States. The Bush Administration, which at one time put sacks over the heads of allied troops, now buries its own head to hide its shame. The US is paying the price for excluding Turkey in its policies in Eurasia. It looks that that price will continue to be paid.”
Reference id: 04ANKARA2881 Origin: Embassy Ankara Time: Fri, 21 May 2004 16:38 UTC
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

Finally, here are more of Benally’s comments from 2005:

Suffering and strength at Bosque Redondo
By Brenda Norrell
2005

BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. – Viewing a photo of Navajo children at Bosque Redondo for the first time, Louise Benally wondered which ones were her great-grandparents who endured the Long Walk to Fort Sumner, N.M. and suffered in the prison camp for four years.

”On my mother’s side they went: and my great-grandfather was just 5 years old. He had seen a lot of hard times, where parents and other relatives were killed,” Benally said.

”My grandma passed on three years ago – she was 116 years old. When she left, she would tell us that they did some healing ceremonies which were called ‘Without Songs.’ She would sometimes have me perform this one: ‘The Blacken Way.”’ She remembered her great-grandfather and other Navajos who were driven from their beloved homeland by the U.S. Army on foot for hundreds of miles while witnessing murders, rapes and starvation.

One-third of the 9,000 Navajo and Mescalero Apache who suffered at the prison camp from 1863 – ’68 succumbed to pneumonia, dysentery, starvation and exposure.

She also said that some Navajos who eluded capture secretly helped others. ”On my father’s side of the family, they didn’t go on this march. But, as supporters from the outside, they brought food in the night and other health supplies.”

Benally is among the Navajos who are resisting forced relocation from her home on Big Mountain. The Navajo descendants of Long Walk survivors at Big Mountain gained strength and fortitude from their ancestors for their 30-year struggle to remain on the land as protectors, she noted.

Benally pointed out that the so-called ”Navajo and Hopi land dispute” resulted from legal maneuvers, documented by Colorado professor Charles Wilkinson, to remove Navajos from the land to make way for the expansion of coal mining on Black Mesa.

8/21/2011 Att'y letter to UN CERD & Right to Water and Free Assembly

James Zion Letter to Patrick Thorn Berry UN CERD Committee Member“>JAMES W. ZION, Attorney at Law, Admitted in the Navajo Nation, Connecticut and the United States Supreme Court, 3808 Ladera Drive N.W., Albuquerque, NM 87120, (505) 839-9549, August 21,2011 TO: Professor Patrick Thornberry CMG, Professor of International Law, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire, UNITED KINGDOM ST5 5BG

Re: Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute Issues and CERD: Dear Professor Thornberry: I was privileged to be in the audience on 22 February 2008 when you had a closing discussion with the United States Mission to the United Nations on the U.S. periodic report to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. You specifically asked that the United States mention the status of Big Mountain and Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute issues in its next periodic report to CERD. It is due on 20 November of this year.

I am the attorney for The Forgotten People, a non-governmental organization that serves the Navajo survivors of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute, including individuals who still live on Hopi lands on Black Mesa. One of the issues they face is getting potable water, and it must be hauled to homes by truck. The dirt roads in the area are poor and require frequent maintenance. The Forgotten People has projects with attempts to obtain funding and logistical support so it can get water carried to people in affected areas in the western part of the Navajo Nation. That includes those who live in areas where the ground water is contaminated with uranium waste from mining and remote communities of Navajos without water who are ignored by both the Navajo and the Hopi tribes.

The specific problem I write about is that The Forgotten People announced a meeting to be held at the residence of Pauline White singer at Big Mountain within the area partitioned to the Hopi Tribe on Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair.” The purpose of the meeting is to ask for assistance from the Navajo and Hopi tribes to get water hauled to homes at Big Mountain and to get the roads in and out of the area graded.

The news of the meeting came to the attention of Mr. LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, the Chairman of the Hopi Tribe, and on August 19, 2011 he wrote to Marsha Monestersky and Ed Becenti of The Forgotten People to inform them, among other things, that “the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations.” He added that Ms. Monestersky is the subject of an order excluding her from the Hopi Reservation (because of her advocacy for Navajo rights). He also noted that one had requested a permit to hold a meeting, when permits are not required by Hopi law and are prohibited by the Indian Civil Rights Act.

We have a situation where the chief executive of the Hopi Tribe, on learning of a meeting to discuss access to water as a human right and to petition for road repairs, has prohibited the meeting in violation of freedom of speech and assembly and the right to petition government provisions of the federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

I have been asked to bring this situation to your attention and to additionally advise that there are recurring problems of violations of the rights of the refugees of the Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute.

They include a Navajo-Hopi compact that violates individual rights and a situation whereby monies and resources held in trust by the Navajo Nation for the benefit of survivors of the Navajo-Hopi land dispute are unaccounted for and likely wasted. I will bring those matters to your attention and that of CERD as the time for the filing of the next United States CERD periodic report approaches.

I therefore bring these facts to your attention so that you will know that your February 2008 request for new information was prescient in its assessment of emerging events.

Your attention to these matters and communication to the full Committee will be appreciated. A copy of the August 19, 2011 letter signed for Chairman Shingoitewa is enclosed.

Sincerely,
James W. Zion

TEXT OF HOPI TRIBE’S LETTER TO MS. MARSHA MONESTERSKY AND MR. ED BECENTI

LeRoy N. Shingoitewa
Chairman HOPI TRIBE
August 19, 2011
Herman G. Honanie
Vice Chairman

Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director
Mr. Ed Becenti
The Forgotten People
Tuba City, Arizona 86045

Dear Ms. Monestersky & Mr. Ed Becenti:

It has come to my attention and the attention of the Hopi Tribal Council that you intend to hold a meeting for the HPL Navajo families on Monday, August 22, 2011, to “discuss a request for safe drinking water delivery and impassable dirt road repair,” as quoted directly from your press release. As we understand your press release, the meeting will take place on HPL, at Pauline Whitesinger’s residence in Big Mountain and will be led by Ms. Marsha Monestersky, Program Director of the Forgotten People. You have requested Hopi Tribal officials participation, as well as other directors and executive officers from the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

At this time, the Hopi Tribe will not be supporting or attending the meeting. To begin, the issues being raised – water and transportation issues – are Government-to-Government issues. Thus, a request for this type ofmeeting must come from the Navajo Nation, not the “Forgotten People.” Additionally, you should be advised that no one has requested a permit from the Hopi Nation to hold this event. As such, the meeting would be in violation of the Hopi Tribe’s rules and regulations. Finally, there is a valid and binding exclusion order for Ms. Monestersky. Thus, Ms. Monestersky is not welcome on Hopi land. Her attendance would clearly violate her exclusion order, which is currently in force.

I hope the above clarifies the Hopi Tribe’s position and we respectfully request that you abide by all Hopi rules, regulation and orders. If you have any questions regarding the Hopi Tribe’s response, please contact Mr. Clayton Honyumptewa, Director, Department of Natural Resources at (928) 734-3641 or my office at (928) 734-3100.

Sincerely,
LeRoy N. Shingoitewa, Chairman
The Hopi Tribe
P.O. BOX 123 KYKOTSMOVI. AZ.. 86039
(928) 734-3000

Ltr. to Monestersky & Becenti
RE: Hopi Tribal Resp.
08119/11

xc. Vice Chairman Honanie
Clayton Honyumptewa, DNR
Robert Lyttle, Interim Gen. Counsel
Norberto Cisneros, Asst. Gen. Counsel
Hon. President Ben Shelley NN
Raymond Maxx, NHLCO, NN

CENSORED NEWS: Navajo government ignores elderly without water

Navajo government ignores elderly without water: Navajo Nation government caters to coal mines and power plants, while Navajo elderly go without water By Brenda Norrell Censored News BIG MOUNTAIN, Ariz. — While Peabody Coal and power plants use the precious aquifer water here, Navajo elderly go without. Forgotten People shares the voices of Navajos resisting relocation, where Navajo elderly are forced to haul their water, elderly who are often ill and without transportation. The wells have been capped off and the springs are drying up. Still, the Navajo Nation leaders only make an occasional, superficial gesture at caring about the suffering of Navajo elderly without water. Instead, the Navajo government continues to focus on polluting and disease producing industries.

By ignoring the suffering of Navajos on Black Mesa, and instead catering to the needs of Peabody Coal, the United States government and other mining and power plant operations, the Navajo Nation government has engaged in a crime against humanity. While providing the Southwest cities with electricity produced with large quantities of pure water, the Navajo government has neglected to provide water for their own people.

The media has been a complicit partner in this crime. While failing to expose the suffering and injustice on Black Mesa, the media has continued to promote the polluting industries on the Navajo Nation, even cheerleading for more coal-fired power plants.

Coal-fired power plants not only use excessive water, but they are the primary cause of global warming and the melting of the Arctic, now causing Native villages to crash into the waters. The pollution from coal-fired power plants has resulted in habitat change in the far north, causing the deaths of polar bears, walruses and other wildlife.

Black Mesa comments from Forgotten People:
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL (Hopi Partitioned Lands) have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Read more statements from Navajos on Black Mesa:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/61460412/8-2-2011-FP-SUBMITTED-Comments-to-President-Shelly-HPL-Right-to-Water

8/8/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo reaches accord with Peabody

8/8/2011 Gallup Independent: Navajo reaches accord with Peabody By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – The Navajo Nation has reached a settlement agreement with Peabody Energy, Salt River Project and Southern California Edison on the 1999 Navajo royalty litigation, it was announced Thursday in a joint press release published by PRN Newswire. Terms of the agreement are confidential, however, information obtained by the Independent indicates the settlement is worth $65 million to Navajo. Upon signing of the agreement, the Nation was expected to receive a $50 million cash lump sum with an additional $1.5 million – or $300,000 each – for 10 years earmarked for the five affected chapters of Black Mesa, Forest Lake, Kayenta, Chilchinbeto, and Shonto. The $50 million would be considered excess revenue and would go to the General Fund, minus funds for mandatory set-asides. It would be up to Council to determine how the excess revenue would be spent.

The settlement was negotiated on behalf of the Navajo Nation by Attorney General Harrison Tsosie. Others involved in the discussions were Council Delegates Leonard Tsosie and Katherine Benally of the Resources and Development Committee, and Jonathan Nez and LoRenzo Bates of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Though there were no immediate press releases issued by the Navajo Nation, Attorney General Tsosie stated in the joint release that “the Navajo Nation is pleased the parties were able to come together in a spirit of cooperation to settle this long-standing litigation.”

In 1999, Navajo sued the United States in the Court of Federal Claims seeking $600 million in damages and alleging violations of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Navajo claimed that then-Secretary of the Interior Don Hodel had been improperly influenced by Peabody when he approved coal royalty lease amendments in 1987. The Supreme Court ruled in April 2009 to reverse the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals that allowed the Nation to pursue its claim for breach of trust against the United States.

As part of the case against the United States there was an allegation that Navajo should have received a 20 percent coal royalty rather than the 12.5 percent of gross proceeds determined in 1987. The director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Navajo Area issued an opinion letter imposing a new rate of 20 percent but Peabody filed an administrative appeal and while it was pending, the tribe and the company reached a negotiated agreement to set a rate of 12.5 percent. As a result, the area director’s decision was vacated, the administrative appeal was dismissed, and the Secretary approved the amendments to the lease. The settlement announced Thursday stems from litigation over that matter.

Peabody has mined coal on Black Mesa under two leases with the tribe since the mid-1970s. A portion of the coal went to Southern California Edison, which was co-owner and operating agent of Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev., before the plant closed in December 2005. Salt River Project is the operating agent for Navajo Generating Station, which uses coal from Peabody’s Kayenta Mine.

“Peabody is pleased to have successfully concluded these important agreements, and looks forward to our future collaborative efforts with the Navajo Nation for the long-term benefit of tribal people,” Peabody Senior Vice President for Southwest Operations G. Brad Brown said.

“Mining on Black Mesa is a major economic staple, contributing more than $12 billion in direct and indirect economic benefits to the region since the operations began.” Peabody noted that the settlement was reflected in the company’s second quarter 2011 financial statements.

The Navajo Nation Council also recently approved the 2007 lease reopener with Peabody and allocated $5.2 million of the revenue for the Many Mules Water Project. The reopener agreement is worth $3.5 million per year to Navajo, in addition to a signing bonus and scholarship money.

8/2/2011 Forgotten People HPL residents request Safe Drinking Water

Re: Forgotten People and Hopi Partition Land (HPL) residents request for Safe Drinking Water Delivery on top of Black Mesa, in Black Mesa, Cactus Valley, Big Mountain, Star Mountain, Jeddito Island and throughout HPL: From: Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Norris Nez, Board of Director, Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer, Rena Babbitt Lane, Pauline Whitesinger, Leonard Benally, Carlos Begay, Sr., Hopi Partition Land, Navajo Nation, AZ: Via Email To: Ed Becenti: rezztone@yahoo.com For: President Ben Shelly, The Navajo Nation Venue: Forest Lake Chapter Town Hall Meeting Dated: August 2, 2011: Dear President Shelly: We are blessed that last night as the Board of Directors met to discuss how Hopi Partition Land residents can get access to safe drinking water, Pauline Whitesinger, an elderly matriarch from Big Mountain joined Caroline Tohannie, Rena Babbitt Lane, Carlos W. Begay, Sr. and Leonard Benally to compel the Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to work with Ed Becenti, Forgotten People’s Window Rock liaison, Forgotten People, the US Environmental Protection Agency, Navajo Department of Water Resources to include safe drinking water delivery on HPL to the US EPA Navajo Nation Pilot Project Feasibility Study and compel the Hopi Tribe to sign off so the Navajo Nation can implement their fiduciary trust responsibility and provide HPL residents with access to safe drinking water and impassable dirt road repair.

Forgotten People is a nonprofit grassroots organization active within the former Bennett Freeze and Hopi Partition Land. We represent communities that span over 2 million acres of remote desert terrain in the northeastern part of Arizona including Hopi Partition Land communities impacted by forced relocation by the US government and Peabody Coal Company’s mining operations. Most of the members practice a subsistence lifestyle of herding sheep. Many elderly community members speak only Dine’.

Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain speaks: We want to participate in a water hauling project. The wells throughout HPL have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed and the natural water source near me is contaminated and unregulated. When I drink the water it hurts my throat and I have a reaction when I swallow it and get sick. I have no vehicle and have no access to safe drinking water. My livestock are thirsty. We are living under a State of Emergency! We are endangered, denied access to water, forced to travel over unpassable dirt roads and endure violations during our ceremonies that the Hopi Tribe says requires a permit to conduct. There are other water sources near me and they are all denied to me for my use. When I was offering a sacrament to the water the Hopi told me to leave the water alone, it does not belong to me. I speak on behalf of my people. We have brought our case and our words (as attached) to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner (see link for UN OHCHR website), Congressional, federal, and tribal forums advocating for our human right to water and sanitation.

Caroline Tohannie, Black Mesa speaks: Our springs were our wetlands with cat tails and other wetlands growth. But they are no longer here. This is where we make offerings and get our healing medicine like cat tails or wreaths for ceremonial purposes. These are our sacred sites. The BIA made wells that had concrete covers and manual pumps. But BIA Rangers came around and disassembled them, taking the pumps out, unscrewing parts, taking off pipes. All the windmills in our region were capped off by the BIA. At first one windmill was capped off but we could reopen it at first but then found the BIA welded the cover shut with dirt over the well opening. There was no longer any way to get water from the well. At another windmill in the area, the BIA disassembled the windmill pump so it would not work. We have been fenced and capped off from access to water. This has created many problems for living things, even insects that need water, animals, birds and people. These tactics are being done to force us off our land so Peabody Coal Company can expand their mining operations.

Caroline and Bert Tohannie and Rena Babbitt Lane live on top of Black Mesa along the route of Peabody Coal Company’s coal slurry pipeline. Billions of gallons of pristine Navajo Aquifer water flowed under their homes but they have no access to water, no emergency access and their vehicles break down traveling long distances over un-passable dirt roads.

Hosteen Nez Begay in Cactus Valley lives 1/8 mile from a water well that has been dismantled for since the 1980’s when the US Bureau of Indian Affiars started dismantling, bulldozing, fencing off water wells. Hosteen has to travel 30 miles each way over rough dirt roads from Cactus Valley to Peabody’s public drinking water stand observing chunks of coal in their drinking water.

Carlos W. Begay in Black Mesa says: In the summer of 1998, on Glenna Begay’s land, Peabody Coal Company installed a sediment pond for contaminated runoff a few yards away from sacred Sagebrush spring planted there by Medicine people. This spring contains a year-round drinking water resource. Bitter Spring in the area, containing a source of water for our animals was bulldozed and Peabody installed a water pump there for the slurry line and a dam to flush the water pipeline. The people and the livestock are thirsty.

These Forgotten People are suffering great hardship and request replication of the Black Falls/Box Springs project to prioritize HPL safe drinking water delivery points and grading of dirt roads and investigate capped off, bulldozed and fenced off water wells throughout HPL.

Forgotten People prays the Navajo Nation President and central government will receive guidance from James W. Zion, Esq.’s application of Fundamental Laws upheld by the Navajo Nation Supreme Court that the land, property, resources and income generated from them are the property of the Navajo People.

Forgotten People compels the Navajo Nation President to work with the Hopi Tribe so they will allow the Navajo Nation to provide HPL residents safe drinking water, livestock water sources and road repair.

On May 6, 2009, President Obama signed legislation HR 956 and S531 to repeal the portion of Public Law 93-531 (The Relocation Act) to lift the Freeze on all Navajo and Hopi lands (including HPL). Unfortunately, this did not address the extensive impact this law had on our people. While the Freeze has halted essential construction, including power line extensions, waterline extensions, and improvements to roads and community facilities, no rehabilitation program was developed to address the effects of the Freeze including access to water and sanitation for water haulers.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is involved in a major effort to improve access to safe water on the Navajo Nation and redress problems resulting from the legacy of uranium mining in the 1950s and 60’s as a result of two pressures. The EPA made a commitment at the 2002 United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa, pledging to reduce the number of its citizens lacking access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 50% by 2015. The largest concentration of people without piped water and sanitation is on the Navajo Nation, especially in the HPL communities.

Forgotten People believes reaching our goals will require collaboration with the Navajo Nation President and the central government using a human rights centered approach to development. Forgotten People believes this collaboration will provide tangible improvements for our communities.

Wars of the future will be fought over water, as they are over oil today, as our ‘Blue Gold’, the source of human survival, enters the global marketplace. We pray, you will understand that here, water is the most precious of all resources and our water rights must not be waived and minimized in a Water Rights Settlement when our local water sources have been capped off, fenced off, bulldozed by the US government’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Without water we cannot survive and our livestock cannot survive and we must for our future generations and our continued way of life.

We need immediate action to stop corporate favoritism. While the Navajo Nation allows corporations to export energy, HPL residents are hauling water by small barrels, drinking contaminated water and have not a drop of water to drink.

The Dinè people do not get power from the NGS. It goes to Phoenix and Tucson and other cities. There is a fundamental unfairness and lack of information on the Navajo Nation. The issues addressed by Forgotten People’s highlight the need for strengthening and implementing cross-cutting principles in international human rights law. This is needed by the Navajo Nation in considering a draft Energy policy.

As members of civil society, Forgotten People affirms the right to development and transparency and enforcement of the Navajo Nation’s fiduciary trust responsibility to provide goods and services to HPL residents. Public health is threatened. To implement ‘Water Without Boarders” for endangered water haulers, we pray you will work with Ed Becenti and Forgotten People so we can sustain our lives.

Respectfully submitted,

Norris Nez, Hathalie, Board of Director, Coal Mine
Caroline Tohannie, Board of Director, Black Mesa
Pauline Whitesinger, Big Mountain
Rena Babbitt Lane, Black Mesa
Carlos W. Begay, Sr., Black Mesa
Leonard Benally, Big Mountain
Lucy Knorr, Sec’y/Treasurer
Marsha Monesterky, Program Director
On behalf of Forgotten People with the Support of Black Falls/Box Springs/Grand Falls residents

Copy: Clancy Tenley, Assistant Director, US EPA Superfund: tenley.clancy@epamail.epa.gov
Najam Tariq, Navajo Department of Water Resources: najamhtariq1@hotmail.com
James W. Zion, Esq., Attorney for Forgotten People JZion@aol.com

7/21/2011 Navajos: Peabody Coal Mine Draining Region's Water Supply

7/21/2011 CENSORED NEWS BLOG: Navajos: New Report: Peabody Coal Mine Draining Region’s Water Supply By Black Mesa Water Coalition, Dine’ CARE, To’ Nizhoni Ani, Center for Biologial Diversity and Sierra Club Photo by Leslie Mano Cockrum: FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A massive coal-mining facility on Black Mesa has a much more damaging effect to a vital local water supply, according to a new report released today. A hydrology study, prepared by Dr. Daniel Higgins (PhD in Arid Lands Resource Sciences from the University of Arizona) program demonstrates that after four decades of coal mine groundwater withdrawals, mine-related impacts to the Navajo Aquifer (N-aquifer) far exceed those that have been acknowledged or recognized by the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), the lead Regulatory Authority for Peabody Coal’s massive mining facility on Black Mesa. The N-aquifer is an important source of water below Black Mesa that feeds sacred springs and is used by thousands as drinking water.

“Despite what these models predicted years ago, I think any reasonable person who looks at the data would conclude that the rates of water level decline at Kayenta and spring discharge decline at Moenkopi are directly related to Peabody’s groundwater withdrawals,” said Higgins, who studies the interactions of complex social-ecological systems and spent more than five years investigating Black Mesa’s groundwater development – the focus of his dissertation research.

“This report reaffirms the fact that coal industry continues to materially damage our aquifer with impunity,” said Marshall Johnson of the Navajo grassroots organization, To’ Nizhoni Ani, or Beautiful Water Speaks. “The truth is that Peabody has yet to prove that the mine is not damaging the aquifer and OSM has yet to hold Peabody accountable. Instead of addressing the health of the aquifer, OSM works on creating new standards each time that have been exceeded so for us, it’s disappointing watching a federal agency deliberately sidestep its responsibilities.”

Wahleah Johns of the Black Mesa Water Coalition said, “OSM should not award Peabody a permit renewal until a thorough investigation is conducted on the findings of this report on the N-Aquifer.”

“Dr. Higgins’ report comes at a critical time while OSM is preparing an Environmental Assessment to analyze the impacts of the Kayenta Mine. OSM officials now need to address and respond to this report before they let Peabody off the hook for damage to the Navajo aquifer,” said Nicole Horseherder of To’ Nizhoni Ani and a Black Mesa resident where she depends on the N-Aquifer for her home and ranch. “The Obama Administration needs to restore environmental justice for local communities and hold Peabody accountable for damaging that most basic human right—the right to drink in perpetuity pure, clean water.”

“We have known for a long time that water withdrawals have been impacting local springs and wildlife but this report puts the burden on OSM to demonstrate to local communities why mine operations should be allowed to continue,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Higgins’ report was submitted by the OSM by Black Mesa Water Coalition, Dine CARE, To’Nizhoni Ani, the Center for Biological Diversity and Sierra Club as a supplement to comments previously submitted to the agency in 2010. OSM is preparing an Environmental Assessment that will be available for public review in August of 2011. The groups have asked OSM to hold a meeting within the next 30 days to discuss the report’s findings.

Contacts: Daniel Higgins, PhD, 520-243-9450
Wahleah Johns, Black Mesa Water Coalition, 928-637-5281
Andy Bessler, Sierra Club, 928-774-6103
Anna Frazier, Dine CARE, 928-401-0382
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, 928-310-6713

7/19/2011 Gallup Independent: Peabody lease concerns include coal, water royalties

7/19/2011 Gallup Independent: Peabody lease concerns include coal, water royalties By Kathy Helms, Dine Bureau: WINDOW ROCK – There’s a first time for everything, and having sponsors of the Peabody 2007 “reopener” resolution sitting on both sides of the fence, expounding on the pros and cons, was a first for the Nabiki’yati Committee, which includes members of former Navajo Nation Councils. Delegate Roscoe Smith, prime sponsor and vice chair of the Resources and Development Committee, presented the basic terms, which have been stated time and again since the resolution started coming before Council several years ago. The Navajo Nation Council will consider the resolution this week during its summer session.

Smith said the reopener issues include coal royalty rates of 12.5 percent for lease 8580 for coal owned exclusively by the Navajo Nation and 6.25 percent for coal co-owned with the Hopi Tribe in the Joint Use Area. This represents $3.5 million per year to the Nation over a 10-year period, a $1.55 million signing bonus, and an increase in scholarship money.

“Some of you have heard this so many times that it looks like a broken record every time you come … and every time it comes, different issues come into play,” Akhtar Zaman, director of Navajo Nation Minerals Department, told the committee during last week’s presentation. After lengthy discussion, the committee voted in favor, 9-6.

Delegate Dwight Witherspoon, who represents affected residents in the Black Mesa area, referred to a Peabody news release stating that the company had record revenues in the past year of $6.86 billion. The only difference in the reopener and the negotiations 13 years ago is there is additional scholarship money and the signing bonus, he said. “That doesn’t seem equitable or reasonable that this would be sufficient.”

Speaking to the revenue the Nation has received over the last five years, he said that in 2006 the royalty was $31.1 million; in 2007, $22.4 million; in 2008, $29.52 million; in 2009, $20.1 million and in 2010, $21.2 million – or in the last five years, a total of $124.5 million. “The last three years, the Council has not approved the same essential lease reopener for reasons,” he said.

“Basically, you can ask 100 percent royalty,” Zaman said, but “everything has a limit. “The Navajo Nation has failed in each and every litigation, including arbitration. If you want to go through that road again, you can try it.”

According to the lease, water royalties must be negotiated separately 30 days after the coal portion is approved by the Secretary of the Interior, and within 120 days. Peabody uses approximately 1,200 acre-feet per year, down from the 4,400 acre-feet it used on average before 2006 when Mohave Generating Station was operating and coal was slurried through a 127-mile pipeline to the plant in Nevada.

When the operation first began, Peabody paid $5 per acre-foot for water. “The average rate today comes to $471 per acre-foot,” Zaman said. In comparison, Sithe Global would have paid around $1,000 per acre-foot if the Desert Rock plant had gone on-line.

Zaman said that if the current rate Peabody pays were doubled, “it is not going to be a significant amount; and if you triple it, still it is not because the total volume is reduced.” If tripled, the total payment is $1.5 million, he said, and if doubled, nearly $1 million. There was no mention of Peabody possibly increasing its water use through 2017, when the terms of the reopener end.

Witherspoon said there is a concern about the water royalty now being paid. In 2006 Peabody used 1,199 acre-feet and paid $1.48 million. From 2007 through 2010 “they basically used around the same amount, however, the amount of revenue was significantly different – close to about a half million dollars each,” he said. In 2007, it was $498,000; 2008 was $509,000; 2009 was $577,000; 2010 was $552,000.

Nicole Horseherder and her husband Marshall Johnson, who represent the Black Mesa group To Nizhoni Ani, were allowed to present their concerns with the reopener, along with Tully Haswood and Milton Bluehouse Sr., of the grassroots group, Hadaa’sidi.

“My concern is that the legislation as it sits right now, there’s no change in the royalty rate. It stays at 12.5 percent. It has been the same since 1987. …. I would like to bring to your attention, right now as we’re speaking, there is a case in federal district court in which the Navajo Nation’s position is 20 percent,” Horseherder said. “I don’t understand the inconsistency in that.”

She recommended the Navajo Nation Council remain consistent and assert the 20 percent. She also pointed out that it is a huge cost to Navajo to have the case sitting in court asserting 20 percent, yet they are in Window Rock about to approve a recommendation of 12.5 percent.

Johnson said he brought 14 chapter resolutions seeking a better lease agreement and also an end to N-aquifer pumping “because we know there is no bond. All other mine operations have a regulation bond. The state of Arizona has a groundwater law that is not being observed on the mine operation on Black Mesa. Water is the bottom line.”

Navajo water is used to supply Phoenix and Tucson. They have economic activity in the Phoenix area of over $190 billion yearly and in Tucson, $34 billion, he said. “Compare that to us. … When are we going to have some economic activity to benefit the people of the Navajo Nation? Here is an opportunity to better seek economic justice.”

Haswood referred to a U.S. Supreme Court decision of April 6, 2009, which states that the director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Navajo Area issued an opinion letter imposing a new rate of 20 percent of gross proceeds. “But Peabody filed an administrative appeal and while it was pending, the tribe and the company reached a negotiated agreement to set a rate of 12.5 percent of gross proceeds instead. As a result, the area director’s decision was vacated, the administrative appeal was dismissed, and the Secretary approved the amendments to the lease.”

The opinion also stated that the Indian Mineral Leasing Act gave the Secretary of the Interior not a “comprehensive managerial role,” but only the power to approve coal leases already negotiated by tribes, he said.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Harrison Tsosie said the current royalty rate reopener is not connected to the litigation over the adjustment of the 1987 royalty rate. “They are two different activities. The case against Peabody, Southern California Edison and other groups is an allegation that we should have received 20 percent rather than 12.5 percent.

“The difficulty in that is ultimately the Navajo Nation did settle for 12.5 percent. We don’t know in the end whether the Secretary of the Interior would have approved the 20 percent. They never reached that point of the decision-making process.” That litigation is ongoing and the parties are in the final settlement stages. Tsosie said they hope to sign the settlement this month.

In a very short time the Nation also has to deal with renewal of the lease for Navajo Generating Station, which uses the coal from Peabody, Zaman said.

“If you want to reject this money, who is the winner? Peabody is the winner, Navajo Nation is the loser,” he said, because the lease limits Peabody to extracting 670 million tons and they have removed about 400 million. The lease allows Peabody to mine whether the reopener is approved or not.

Delegate Leonard Tsosie said George Vlassis was the Navajo Nation’s attorney when the lease was negotiated and Raymond Nakai was chairman. “Why Vlassis encouraged our chairman to sign a ‘forever’ lease, I don’t know. He was wrong.” Tsosie said the lease allows Peabody to continue, basically, until the coal runs out.

Delegate LoRenzo Bates asked whether the uranium provision in the Peabody lease was in conflict with the Dine Natural Resources Protection Act, which prohibits uranium mining and processing.

Rather than a legal opinion from the attorney general, Zaman said that as a technical person, he believes they would not see uranium mined in the lease area. “I don’t see any rationale.”