UPDATE: Published on Aug 19, 2015 by Paper Rockets Production
See Indigenous Action Media for more source materials.
Window Rock, AZ — On August 14, 2015 dozens of Diné (Navajo) took action to resist U.S. Senator John McCain’s attempts to steal precious water and desecrate sacred lands. McCain had private meetings scheduled at the Navajo Nation capitol with Diné and state politicians which included discussion of the controversial Navajo-Hopi Little Colorado River water rights settlement.
Nearly a dozen Diné youth took action by chanting and linking arms in a roving sit-in at the Nation Nation museum where the meeting was to be held. The group was supported by dozens of other Diné community advocates who held signs such as, “John McCain = Indian Killer” and “Save Oak Flat.”
“Walking through our homeland has given us a deeper understanding of protecting the sacred, defending our homeland.” stated Nihígaal bee Iiná participants who were a significant part of the action on Friday, “Even if that means disrupting secret meetings with crooked politicians. We will no longer sit back, we will protect our water, land and livelihood for children, our grandchildren and honor our ancestors by any means necessary! WATER IS LIFE!”
At one point state and Tribal police blocked demonstrators from leaving the museum building. An elder intervened opening the door allowing the group to pursue after McCain’s convoy yelling, “Get off our land!” Police blocked access to the airport where McCain quickly departed. Despite heavy law enforcement presence, no arrests were made.
McCain has long established himself as an enemy of Indigenous lifeways. From furthering forced relocation on Black Mesa for coal mining (S.1003), political support for ski area desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks, to his most recent attack against San Carlos Apache Holy lands at Oak Flat for copper mining, McCain has long placed corporate interests over Diné and other Indigenous Nation’s survival.
In the face of ecological and climate crises, McCain and a handful of Navajo political collaborators continue to further extreme pollution from fracking, coal mining, and Coal-Fired power plants operating on the Navajo Nation. These actions appears to contradict other ecologically responsible measures such as the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act of 2005, which banned uranium mining and processing on Navajo lands, the 5 Year plan to clean up abandoned uranium mines, and the recently declared a state of emergency due to the Gold King mine disaster which threatens sacred and vital water ways such as the San Juan and Colorado.
This statement was issued on the day of the action by Collective voice of those united in solidarity, “NO MORE ALLOWING state or federal politicians and the corporations they represent entrance into our homelands. Those who are responsible for our people being poisoned, starved, kept in poverty and removed from our sacred territories, are not welcomed here!! We will take back our power and restore our homelands, take care of our water, protect our people and our sacred sites, and mentor a new generation of youth that will change this paradigm of exploitation and greed!”
John Paul Brammer August 17, 2015 report for Blue Nation Review
iven the federal government’s silence in the wake of the EPA’s accidental Gold King Mine spillthat contaminated rivers near the Navajo Nation, perhaps yesterday was not the day for U.S. Senator John McCain and Arizona governor Doug Ducey to visit the reservation.
A group of Navajo activists have made that much abundantly clear.
Native News Online reports McCain and Ducey sat down with Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye and Vice President Jonathan Nez for a public meeting to discuss a potential Navajo Code Talker museum. These code talkers were instrumental to U.S. efforts in World War II.
But a museum honoring the Navajo’s contributions to the United States military was of little interest to the Navajo in a state of emergency as their water supplies have been poisoned with mercury, lead, and arsenic.
“I keep saying when are we going to hear from the White House?” President Begaye told Native News Online. “Not a word. When somebody wins the Super Bowl or an NBA Championship, they get a call, right? And when something like this happens and people are suffering, nothing.”
During the public meeting, McCain and Ducey declined to address the issue on the record. McCain was the one who slipped land-swap legislation into the must-pass National Defense Authorization Act, trading away a swath of land that includes Oak Flat, a sacred site to the Apache, so that a foreign mining company can mine there.
These are the frustrations that led to this moment.
Amid chants and beating drums, Navajo activists rushed past police officers to chase John McCain’s car out of Navajo Nation.
“Get off our land!”
This is what happens when a people go ignored and their frustrations reach a fever pitch.
To be clear, our government is doing a terrible job addressing the concerns of Natives. It is nothing short of obtuse to visit the Navajo Nation in their time of utmost need to talk about building a museum when they are in the midst of a crisis no one is paying attention to.
It is foolish to think Natives would welcome anyone who has had no problem signing away sacred indigenous sites in the name of corporate greed.
The time is now to put increased pressure on our highest-ranking officials to speak out on this issue. President Begaye is correct. For too long, Natives have been expected to suffer in silence.
Perhaps this is the only way to get attention.
Take a look at the video below.