SANTA FE, N.M.-The New Mexico Community Foundation (NMCF) and the Thaw Charitable Trust are pleased to announce that former Hopi chairman Vernon Masayesva and Navajo activists Nicole Horseherder and Marshall Johnson are the winners of the 2007 Michael S. Currier Environmental Service Award for their work protecting the lands and water of Black Mesa.
They accepted the award from the NMCF Chief Operating Officer Michael Chamberlain at a reception and ceremony held Dec. 13 at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, N.M.
The trio has worked tirelessly to stop exploitation of Black Mesa in northeast Arizona for coal. Their efforts succeeded in stopping the use of groundwater to transport coal, ultimately resulting in the 2005 closure of the Black Mesa Coal Mine and Mohave Generating Station, one of the largest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants in the West.
For more than three decades, Peabody Coal Company pumped between three and four million gallons of drinking-quality water a day from aquifers beneath the mesa to slurry coal 273 miles to the Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev.
Masayesva founded the non-profit Black Mesa Trust in 1998 to oppose this practice. Horseherder, assisted by her husband Johnson, founded the grassroots organization To'Nizhoni Ani ("Beautiful Water Speaks") in 2001 to work with Navajo communities to protect groundwater from damage by mining operations.
Today, these three leaders are campaigning with the Just Transition Coalition to create renewable energy projects that will benefit the Hopi and Navajo peoples. They plan to share the $20,000 prize.
About the Michael S. Currier Award
The biennial Currier Award honors individuals for the substance and originality of their contributions to the environmental health of the American Southwest. The honorees may work in any field of endeavor within the Four Corners' states and the adjoining region of northern Mexico.
In 2003 the award was conferred on Linn and Tweeti Blancett, and Chris and Kay Velasquez, two ranching couples from the Animas River Valley of northwestern New Mexico, who vigorously fought large corporate interests to defend their land against the ravages of coal bed methane development.
About Michael S. Currier
Michael S. Currier became involved in environmental issues when he moved to Santa Fe in 1989, bringing his personal vision and leadership to community economic development, land conservation and projects promoting energy efficiency. Although he died in 1998 at the young age of 38, he touched the lives of many people through his philanthropy and his efforts on behalf of children, families, education, and the environment.