Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Upate from Black Mesa Indigenous Support Winter 2001

February 8, 2001 by  
Filed under Voices from the Land

Please take note that BMIS now has a NEW email address: blackmesais@riseup.net If emails are sent to the old address, granmonta@hotmail.com, we will NOT receive them.

Ya’at’eeh! Greetings to all you people who believe in holding respect of peoples and all life as the highest goal to be realized by humanity today. The intention of this e-mail is simply to give information about the current status of the land and the people who live there, for those of you who hold this Black Mesa issue as an unforgotten struggle.

Please be sure to look for current statements from resisters on the BMIS website.

Over the weekend of January 19 through the 22 the most recent delegation of supporters went up to the land. This trip was organized to distribute supplies of food, clothing and dog food to as many families as was possible to visit within the time limits and weather restrictions of the weekend. Because the roads were mostly frozen the BMIS van did well criss-crossing the reservation to make the deliveries.

This winter there has been a distinct decline in the amount of support in comparison with previous years. However, on-going efforts to accomodate incoming supporters from around the country and around the world continue to be a struggle for the organization. We are currently very short-staffed and working over-time to cover the responsibilities. Despite the lack of supporters the people on the land continue to be grateful and appreciative of any help they receive. Many elders in the families recently visited reiterated their appreciation and made specific requests for continued support, particularly long term sheep herding help.

The winter has been very cold this year which makes things especially difficult for the elderly. There are various elders in need of medical assistance these days who are considering making changes in their lifestyle in order to be closer to medical help. They continue to live in their traditonal homes, however, and attempt to maintain their sheep herds as much as possible, weather and knees and health permitting.

The shift in the political leadership of the country is a topic of interest of course and the particular impacts it may have are being considered by the people up at Big Mountain, along with the rest of the world. Particular worries there are over the possible republican solution to the energy crisis, the republican approach to the relocation issues and the potential clash that could occur due to energy needs. The current energy crisis in California has shifted the issue of energy to the front burner in the country today and the increased profits that Peabody will be making and using to expand production into new areas has many people involved in the Black Mesa issue concerned. The supporters in the recent work party had hoped the people on the land would have access to information on any current legislative or mining changes but discovered that most of the families are left in the dark concerning policies affecting their livelihood. There are continued threats of the on-going impounding of livestock which has been used by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) over the years as an intimidation tactic.


BMIS is a local all-volunteer organization based out of Northern AZ, striving to be a supporter resource for Black Mesa. Our simple goals are to inform ourselves about the issues, act out of an interest to help and support the people there, and to be available to others in order to guide them appropriately to do the same. We are currently working understaffed and with a very low budget. There is not an official BMIS office, rather everything is coordinated through cyberspace, a post office box and the very essential voicemail. We try very hard to meet the needs of in-coming supporters upon their arrival in Flagstaff. The coordination of arrivals, departures and maintaining the supply vehicles for visits and deliveries to the land continues to be a struggle we strive to properly manage. Informing ourselves, those in the support network, the media, as well as the general public about the situation faced by the Elders & families indigenous to Black Mesa is our most prominent task. Sensitivity to the people is one of our highest goals, meaning that we do not wish to ever go back on our word to them. We strive to be continualy informed about their needs and wishes, and to properly acknowledge, credit and relay their statements while being sensitive that we are not speaking for them; we are solely responsible for our words. This is the kind of standard we are attempting to maintain within this organization. Acknowledging the appropriate sources and reporting on behalf of the genocidal issues faced by these sovereign communities is a subject we take very seriously, being fully aware that it is people’s lives and a community that we are affecting through our representation of the issues.

At the request of the families at Black Mesa, we try to prepare supporters who desire to give direct on-land support to be culturally sensitive. We ask that they be willing to assess their own ability to exercise cultural sensitivity and display the appropriate respect for those they are supporting. This is more of an issue than one might imagine, as many of us have qualities intrinsic to our nature that may be culturally racist without our realizing it. This is a common unconscious condition that arises precisely because of the societal conditions many of us evolve in. We seek to stay continually devoted in searching for various ways of unlearning and altering these kinds of racism that we may find in ourselves. Please check out the new section about unlearning racism. Are you interested in volunteering? We strongly encourage you check out the cultural sensitivity packet.

In our role as supporters on the land we follow the lead of the resisters. We must be prepared to listen, and to work. Mostly the support takes the form of providing Elder care, sheepherding, chopping and gathering firewood, and assisting with daily chores. Additionally it can include making repairs, running errands, and observing and documenting human rights violations. This help potentially frees up a resister to attend a meeting, join delegations, perform ceremonies, or other things they may need time for in order to organize and strengthen themselves in this ongoing struggle.

With our decision to put this statement together we’ve been faced with the complexities of accurate representation. This is partially due to the difficulties of having few people to do a lot of work, the low budget, the remoteness of Black Mesa, & the resisters homes being spread out over an enormous area. Other factors are weather conditions (which at times cause the roads to be impassable ), and often times the absence of an available translator, which can result in language and cultural barriers. There have been times where upon arrival to homesites we find nobody at home, and there are also some families that are independent of support. Due to these circumstances it would be incorrect for us to say we fully represent the situation at hand, nor would we ever claim to fully represent this issue. Our efforts are in attempt to shed light on the situation that deserves continued investigation. It is the intention of BMIS to work in a manner with those living at Black Mesa that is neither burdening, intruding, nor interfering.


There are occasions when supplies or supporters will arrive in Arizona (usually in Flagstaff) interested in going to Black Mesa, and there is not readily available transportation. For this reason it is important that on-land supporter(s) held up in Flagstaff are prepared to possibly spend some money on lodging. There is little available housing in Flagstaff and the youth hostels aren’t always vacant. In order to avoid these types of complications and extra costs it is crucial to communicate with BMIS in advance. Working with us in advance and arranging a meeting time would be very helpful. Equally important, BMIS often knows of families in urgent situations requesting support at a specific time. BMIS is asking that individuals and groups check in with us before your trip to Black Mesa and if possible afterwards as well so that we can share information about the needs of the resisters, and promote the issues in a unified manner. BMIS is totally in support of autonomy with regards to the diverse support efforts, we are only hoping for better communication & unity within these efforts. This exchange of information will strengthen the efforts to build a stronger network concerning the indigenous and environmental issues on Black Mesa.


One of the projects BMIS is currently working on is bringing a mechanic to Black Mesa. He has offered to fix resisters’ vehicles in mid to late April. Prior to his visit we will need to gather data about peoples’ vehicular problems, and also raise funds for this project. Due to the large number of automobiles needing attention, focus will be placed on those that can be repaired with the least amount of expense and time. Also, those vehicles that are necessary to haul water or firewood for the particular family and neighboring households and/or those used to commute to carry out resistance efforts, will be given priority. We will need funds for the necessary vehicle parts and gas money for running the parts between Flagstaff or Tuba City and Black Mesa. In addition, though the mechanic is volunteering his work he will need help with the rent that will accrue back at his home while he is away. Rent is about $300.oo, and based on past experience / receipts, it is estimated that for about a months duration of vehicular repairs and parts running it will cost around $3,000. A team of people to provide direct assistance with the mechanic is needed to make this project effective.

Other future projects that BMIS hopes to aid in are; the 2nd Annual Black Mesa Prayer Walk in March,( with minor logistical and coordination support), and assisting in the New York City Lehman Brothers Shareholders meeting in accordance to requests made by the resistors. Information will be posted on the BMIS website about the upcoming mobilization for this Shareholders Conference.

We welcome comments, corrections, and dialogue. (Just give us time to get back to you please!)

“In building a global movement of resistance we can assert our will to struggle as peoples against all forms of oppression. But we do not only fight the wrongs imposed on us and the planet, we are also committed to building a new world. We come together as human beings and communities, our unity deeply rooted in diversity.” -Peoples’ Global Action

Thank you,

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