STATEMENT FROM NICOLE HORSEHERDER ON BEHALF OF TONIZHONI ANI
Ya’at’eeh, Thank you for the opportunity to relay this very important message to the audience here and the nation.
As Dine’ people living on the most Northern plateau in North East Arizona, our coal and our water is used to power and supply water to central and southern Arizona. Through Indigenous resources, both the State legislators and Federal Agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamations, and Department of Interior with is our Trust responsible party, have collaborated to subsidize the most expensive water delivery project in the world and they have done so on the backs of Navajos and Hopis Indigenous Nations in Arizona.
It is time for all citizens of Arizona to bear the cost of what until now only Navajo and Hopi have had to shoulder. In exchange for the cheap electricity and water supply from both Peabody’s mining operation on Navajo Lands and the Salt River Projects Coal Fired Power Plant –the Navajo Generating Station, (which is the buyer of Navajo Coal), Navajo’s have had to struggle not only with poorly regulated coal mining and water mining operations and coal burning operations but also the health impacts of dangerous and toxic pollution or which include, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, arsenic, selenium, mercury only to name a few but deadly particulants and pollution in our air. Of these operations, the most poorly managed, misused and wasted resource is our precious water. Through coercion on the part of the Department of Interior, Navajo water on the upper basic Colorado River was waived free of charge so that the Navajo Generation station could operate. In addition the Peabody Coal company has been tapped into deep Navajo Aquifers for more than 40 years and have no intention of returning water in quality or quantity as stated in Surface Mining law, even though damage to the aquifer has been evident since 1984. Water is the lifeblood of our nation. Without access to clean water sources, our Nations would suffer and die.
In our Dine way of Life, water is our mother and water is our father. We must maintain a balance for the duality of life. Water has the power to take life and give life, and therefore we respect it. Water alone is medicine, it can bring healing and health. When we have ceremony, we always place water in the foreground as acknowledgement of its importance and existence. Through this we remember our existence- not as dominant over our environment but stewards of the land and resources.
Indigenous Nations cannot forsake the basic elements of life for money and enterprise and commerce. Without these elements nothing would exist. It’s time the rest of the world acknowledge this and have this most basic discussion with us. It is the key to the survival of the Human Nation.
Thank you again, ahxe hee’