Native Americans gather to defend homelands
Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (CARE), a Navajo group (HCN, 10/31/94), hosted the gathering in an isolated forest site, and cooked for the group on outdoor woodstoves. "At one lunch alone, we served 2,000 pieces of frybread," said Lori Goodman, spokeswoman for Diné CARE.
Meeting under canvas tarps, Diné and Pueblo people talked about fights with mining companies and struggles to protect sacred sites. Hand-painted signs memorialized places like Mount Graham in southern Arizona, a sacred place for the San Carlos Apache tribe, where the University of Arizona and the Vatican have built massive telescopes, and Red Butte, south of the Grand Canyon, sacred to the Havasupai, where an international mining company wants to dig for uranium.
"We have to look at the ethics of these developments from an indigenous perspective," said the network's national coordinator, Tom Goldtooth.
The indigenous network came into existence at the first CARE gathering, where participants spread the word about how to win environmental battles. Working with community-based organizers in different parts of the Navajo reservation, CARE stopped several proposed toxic dumps and forced the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs to produce an environmental impact statement before approving a timber sale on reservation lands - something the agency had never done before.
"Before the (network) came in to being, people were always getting railroad-ed and intimidated," says Lori Goodman. Today, the Indigenous Environmental Network teaches tribal people the power of combining traditional values, such as respect, humility and hard work, with modern tools, such as the Internet and e-mail.
The Indigenous Environmental Network can be reached at P.O. Box 485, Bemidji, MN 56619-0485 (218/751-4967). Visit its Web site at www.alphacdc.com/ien.
Diné CARE can be reached at 10A Town Plaza, Suite 138, Durango, CO 81301 (970-259-0199).