TUBA CITY, Ariz. - One of the few things that both Hopi and Navajo grassroots activists agree on is that Peabody Western Coal Company wants both Hopi and Navajo water and coal. All for its own billions of dollars corporate profit, including monetary benefits from electricity sales to metropolitan non-native communities hundreds of miles away from both of these reservation areas.
But what most tribal members from both of these communities do not know is how much they are being compensated for these two precious resources, or even any of the details of the lease agreements that have been signed off by their Hopi or Navajo council members or tribal officials granting Peabody another 10 year extension.
A series of public presentations developed by the Inter-Tribal COALition headed by former Hopi tribal chairman Ben Nuvamsa, and former Navajo Nation president Milton Bluehouse along with Navajo advocates, Tulley Haswood and tribal activist-advocate Ed Becenti titled, "Water is Life." The presentation includes three separate specific power point presentations, and now features a special presentation by Dr. Daniel Higgins, a scientist and hydrologist from University of Arizona. This showcases information and research materials from the Office of Surface Mining's (OSM) own files and research library that show the serious, irreparable damage being done to the N-aquifer by the continued daily water pumping from both Hopi and Navajo water sources by Peabody Western Coal Company.
The full day free forum will be held in Tuba City at the Greyhills High School auditorium on Feb. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Students are highly encouraged to attend to hear this vital information that will affect their future livelihoods if they intend to farm, ranch and raise their families on their home Hopi and Navajo reservations. All Hopi Tribal Council members and Navajo Nation delegates are also being "challenged" to come and hear some factual information that should affect how they vote on further supporting Peabody's lease agreements, and to learn how they could be better at negotiating amendments to the Peabody lease agreements on behalf of their Navajo and Hopi people.
Don Yellowman, President of the Forgotten People Corporation, is the primary host along with Flagstaff Sierra Club to present this extremely important forum to help native grassroots Hopi and Navajo to better understand the long term implications of Peabody Western Coal Company's use of Hopi and Navajo water.
"I am hoping that by sponsoring this special Water is Life-Water is Sacred forum that we can create a greater awareness for our people and their water needs for the future for both our Hopi and Dine' people," said Yellowman. "There are three wells right now that are contaminated with uranium immediately due east of Tuba City and Moencopi villages. Both Moencopi villages and Tuba City need to advocate together to address this contamination. They will be much more effective together in approaching US-EPA instead of doing this separately. Our N-aquifer is affected by the Peabody pumping and both of these tribal communities need to know this.
Yellowman also continued to talk about the importance of tribal involvement.
"We need to protect the future security of our water for our Hopi and Navajo people.
We are facing possible contamination of our water by coal mining and putting our N-aquifer at risk" said Yellowman. "What do we do as tribal members to avoid potential hazards to our future water supply? We must begin collaborating within our two communities on how best to understand and address our joint water concerns. At the end of the day, both Dine' and Hopi need to ask, Is mining of coal really beneficial to our communities? Are we risking too much of our water future and are the trade-offs really worth the risk?"
The forum agenda will start promptly at 9 a.m. and will feature the following topics, Dr. Higgins report on affects of Peabody pumping, Peabody-Kayenta Coalmine update, Navajo Generating Station update, Local Water quality issues update, What Options are available to both Hopi and Navajo tribal members to make change in their present government posture.
For more information contact Yellowman at (928) 380-2470 or email Don@forgottennavajopeople.com.