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Thank you to everyone who participated and supported the 2010 Caravan at Big Mountain/Black Mesa

March 8, 2011 by  
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To everyone who participated and supported the 2010 Caravan at Big Mountain/Black Mesa,

On behalf of the Black Mesa Indigenous Support collective (BMIS), we want to thank you all for joining us this year in support of the traditional resistance communities of Big Mountain and Black Mesa! BMIS considers this year’s caravan to have been a great success and we want to thank everyone for their effort in making it happen. Most importantly, we want to recognize and express our gratitude to the families of Big Mountain/Black Mesa for opening up their homes to us and for protecting all of us as they stand on the frontlines of resistance to global destruction and corporate colonialism.

This year’s caravan succeeded because of your work and dedication to the struggle! We were able to get direct, on-land support to 30 families and bring together 118 out-of-town supporters to learn about and lend their energy to the resistance efforts on the land. Long time Black Mesa supporters shared their commitment with out-of-towners coming to the land for the first time. We were also joined by many family members who helped us with translations, guidance, support, and inspiration.  Together, we chopped wood, repaired sheep corrals roads and roofs, herded sheep, talked over the fire, formed a search and rescue party to find a lost sheep herder and built bridges of solidarity between our various communities. In collaboration with Clandyken we bought 35 cords of wood and cut almost 20 truckloads, bringing more than 50 families firewood from Lowe Mountain, thoughout Teestoh, and all the way to Cactus Valley. The opening and closing assemblies brought many elders and family members from the communities around Big Mountain together to visit and organize with each other, as well as share stories and inspiration with the supporters who were visiting their land. In addition to the food, tools, and clothes which were brought, caravan participants raised nearly 12,000  dollars through grassroots fundraising efforts! This money translates into tools, building supplies, wood, and butchering sheep for the opening and closing circles, as well as funds for the good folks at Seeds of Peace who fed us. Additionally, the funds help BMIS bring more visibility to over 35 years of continued struggle on Black Mesa and help connect this struggle to other movements for social, environmental, and racial justice.

This year we had two days of movement building where we brought community organizers from Black Mesa and Big Mountain together with supporters to share stories, vision and create strategies for enhancing resistance to colonialism, climate destabilization and forced relocation. Out of those conversations, we came out with goals of raising awareness in our home communities, continuing to fundraise and apply for grants to support Black Mesa organizers, and exploring the potential for a corporate campaign and direct action against the mine. Folks from the Colorado crew applied for and are waiting to hear back on a $10,000 grant that would go toward the Native Youth Permaculture camp up at Black Mesa this Spring and would help send Loiuse Benally to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFI)  delegation on coal and climate justice. We are excited to be collaborating with Mountain Justice organizers and community members in Appalachia to facilitate an exchange between communities most impacted by and resisting coal mining.

The Black Mesa Indigenous Support website is being revamped and we are working to set up a better internal communication system for regional coordinators (updates about that soon). We’re also updating the cultural sensitivity packet and putting out a Dine’ language handbook. Around the country, report backs and fundraisers have been held after the caravan. We are also doing research for a letter writing campaign, as the Navajo Nation will be voting on whether or not to extend the lease on the four corners mine this March. We are encouraging people to stay in touch with regional coordinators and continue supporting Black Mesa resistance from your home communities. As always, the elders are requesting direct on land support so please consider coming and spending a month or two on the land.`

Before we close, we want to thank all the Elders, families, allies and supporters for their support when a supporter was lost for over 50 hours. We thank those who prayed for the supporter, who lit fires for her, who ate for her, who did ceremonies for her, who tracked her to the mountains, those who searched all night, those who were prepared to deal with media, those who dropped everything to come help, those who used their trucks and gas money and especially a thanks goes out to the supporter parents. After this incident, BMIS learned a lot of lessons, but most importantly we saw how beautifully able to come together the entire Black Mesa/Big Mountain Community is in 2010.

As members of BMIS traveled to different Elder’s homes and listened to what they had to share, it was clear that they were thankful for the work we all did and for the reminder that their struggle isn’t forgotten. The relationships that were created and deepened during the caravan will help to sustain the Elder’s continued fight for self-determination and against isolation brought on by forced relocation.  At times, as a collective, we can look at and feel all the world’s problems and apathetic people; this can bring us down and take away our hope for the future. To the supporters and resisters- we want to thank you for giving us a reason to continue the work we do and for continuing to struggle and fight for the systemic changes we all want to see. Our hearts and souls were nourished while enjoying the conversations, laughter and relationships that were built this year. It was wonderful to reconnect with the families and deeply encouraging to hear about the great work that out-of-towners are doing back home for decolonization, the planet, and all people. As a collective, we look forward to working with you all in the future and strengthening the networks of solidarity that we seek to grow.

With gratitude,
BMIS collective members- Derek, Liza, Dixie, Berkley, Tree & Hallie

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