Bay Arrea Indymedia Brenda Norrell | August 26, 2009
Indigenous Havasupai people held a gathering to stop uranium mining in the Grand Canyon and protect ancestral Havasupai Territory, at the south rim of the Grand Canyon, in July of 2009. Indigenous peoples and activists came from the four directions, from Arizona Hopi land and from as far away as Hawaii, to participate with sacred songs and ceremonies.
For four days, Havasupai elders gathered on sacred Red Butte and listened to the legacy of uranium mining on Indian lands. They heard directly from the victims of the trail of death and cancer left behind by uranium mining corporations that were never held responsible on Pueblo and Navajo lands in the Southwest United States. They also listened to the promise of solidarity from the hundreds who gathered here to stand with them: Navajos from Big Mountain, Hualapai, Hopi, Kaibab Paiute, Paiute, Aztecs, and other American Indians from throughout the Americas.
The Havasupai Nation, with the Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Grand Canyon Trust, sponsored the gathering to halt uranium mining on Red Butte, July 23-26, 2009. Supai elders gave testimony for official U.S. records in their Havasupai (Pai) language and in English. Supai traditional singers sang as a camp was established on this mesa where Toronto-based Denison Mines is threatening to reopen a uranium mine.
Recent congressional legislation protects the Grand Canyon from new mining claims, but does not deter mining under existing claims held by Denison and others………………
………. “In Numbers, There is Strength”
During the panel, Larry King, Navajo from Church Rock, NM, told the gathering how he worked for the United Nuclear Corporation from 1975 to 1983 as an underground mine surveyor. King said he has lived all his life in Church Rock and still raises his cattle on the land where he grew up. Now, a community activist, he said Navajos in the communities of Church Rock, Pinedale, Coyote Canyon, and Iyanbito, NM, have suffered greatly from uranium mining.
…………… Speaking of the corporations who have contaminated this region for decades, Pino said, “Why would they want to mine uranium in one of the natural wonders of the world like the Grand Canyon? If they will mine uranium here, they will mine uranium anywhere. They have no heart, they have no soul.”