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Return to Support Front Line Resistance Communities on Big Mountain & Black Mesa, AZ. November 17-24th, 2012

August 30, 2012 by  
Filed under Latest Posts




Photo credit: Michelle Christiance

Greetings from the Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective,

With people across the country organizing protests, direct actions, and encampments and mounting anti-coal campaigns as a part of the 2012 Climate Summer of Solidarity* we wish to extend an invitation to return to Black Mesa. During this moment of peak visibility around climate chaos and extraction, we hope to honor and celebrate the nearly-40 year Indigenous-led resistance against cultural genocide, forced relocation, and massive coal mining on Black Mesa.


The genocide on Black Mesa has been recognized internationally. In the late 1980′s the United Nations described the case of the forced relocation as one of the most flagrant violations of indigenous peoples’ human rights in this hemisphere. As mentioned in the recent (2012) Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission report**, PL 93-531 violates human rights, not only because it relocated families to new home-sites on a contaminated uranium site, but also because the families remaining on their ancestral homelands, blockading the coal mining and continuing their traditional way of life, are living with daily harassment and intimidation, including livestock impoundments, and surveillance. Also according to the report, “Navajo people are empowered by [the resistance communities’] steadfastness, their sacrifice and their courage.” As part of the larger support network, we’ve been inspired by these same qualities in the resistance communities.

The aim of this caravan is to honor the requests and words of the elders and their families– to prioritize building with returning supporters, while encouraging new people to come out throughout the year. With their guidance, we will carry their wishes and demands far beyond the annual caravan to link this struggle to our own de-colonial practices and involvement in local social, environmental, and climate justice movements.

IMPORTANT: How is this year’s caravan different?

  • This year’s caravan is only open to returning on-land supporters. This means folks who have attended a caravan in the past, or who have done an on-land stay with a family or elder on Black Mesa. Based on the advice of Black Mesa/Big Mountain community members and advisors, we’ve decided to use the space of the caravan to build and organize with committed, returning supporters. Also by inviting folks who’ve already been to the land, BMIS is able to focus on building the network rather than orienting new supporters to the land. Three BMIS collective members are now living in Flagstaff, and have lots of capacity to orient new supporters throughout the rest of the year.
  • This year, there will be a two-day gathering of caravan participants and Black Mesa/Big Mountain community members at the end of the week, instead of one gathering at the beginning and one at the end.
  • This two-day gathering will be a time when participants get to hear from the Black Mesa/Big Mountain resistance communities, connect with each other, build political analysis, and share the work that we’ve been doing in our home communities throughout the year.
  • Since there is no opening gathering, you’ll be in touch with the family you will stay with before the caravan begins. Please talk to them about specific requests that they have for their homesite.


  • 1.Email BMIS at  Make the Subject Line: “Caravan Protocol 2012”.
  • 2. If you are in touch with a family already and want to stay with them during the caravan, email BMIS and let us know who you are going to and how many people are in your crew.
  • 3. If you need to be put in touch with a family, say so in the email.
  • 4. Once you are in touch with the family, ask them what their specific requests are.
  • 5. If you want to be on roving wood crew instead of staying with a family, say so in the email.  If you choose to be on wood crew, try to come prepared with chainsaws, axes, mauls, and trucks if possible. Wood crew will only be 10-15 people.
  • 6. Bring $10-$20 to contribute to meals at the end of the week gathering.  We will pay someone from the land to butcher and prepare food.
  • 7. EVERYONE (even though you are returning) needs to provide their emergency contact information, allergy/illness information and any other pertinent information to their regional coordinator if you have one. The regional coordinator will compile this information for their crew and pass email it to BMIS.  If you do not have a regional coordinator, contact BMIS with this information via email.
  • 8.  ALL OF THIS INFORMATION NEEDS TO BE SUBMITTED TO BMIS BY OCTOBER 31st, 2012! Please help us make this a smoothly-organized event by cooperating with the protocols and deadline.


*Again, this year’s fall caravan is only open to returning supporters. Prior to visiting Black Mesa, please review the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guidebook:

If you aren’t a returning supporter and therefore aren’t coming on the caravan but still want to be involved:

  • Stay with a family any time of the year or come with a small crew you organize with guidance from BMIS: Families living in resistance to coal mining and relocation laws are requesting self-sufficient guests who are willing to give three or more weeks of their time, especially in the winter.  Contact BMIS in advance so that we can make arrangements prior to your stay, to answer any questions that you may have, and so we can help put you in touch with a family.   It is of the utmost importance that each guest understands and respects the ways of the communities that we will be visiting. Prior to visiting Black Mesa, all guests must read and sign the Cultural Sensitivity & Preparedness Guide:

Everyone can:

  • Host or attend regional organizational meetings in your area: We strongly urge participants to attend or organize regional meetings. There you’ll engage in political education work and help regional coordinators plan logistics, fundraisers, and collect donated food and supplies ahead of time.
  • Raise Supplies: Trucks, chainsaws, & supplies are integral to the success of the caravan. The more trucks we have, the more wood, water, and other heavy loads we can transport.   Axes, mauls, axe handles, shovels, tools of all kinds, organic food, warm blankets, and did we mention trucks? — either to donate to families or to use for the week of the caravan–are greatly needed on the land to make this caravan work! BMIS has a 501-C3 tax-deductible number so if you need that contact us.
  • Challenge Colonialism: One of BMIS’s main organizing goals is to highlight anti-colonial education within all the regional meetings leading up to the caravan. In addition to the Cultural Sensitivity Guide, we encourage you to bring articles, films, and other resources to your regional meetings and host discussions that further our collective understanding for transforming colonialism, white supremacy, genocide, and all intersections of oppression.For more, please check out the BMIS collective’s Points Of Unity. Feel free to share with us any resources that you like so that we can build upon this list and strengthen our growing support network.
  • Fundraise: As a grassroots, all-volunteer network, we do not receive nor rely on any institutional funding for these support efforts; we count on grassroots ingenuity, creativity, and hard work to make it all come together. We are hoping to raise enough money through our community connections for gas, specifically for collecting wood and food for host families, and for work projects. Host events, hit up non-profits, generous food vendors, and folks in your own networks.  An article that we want to highlight for garnering funds is: “8 Ways to Raise $2,500 (or more) in 10 Days (or less, sometimes)”.

May we stand strong with the elders & families of Black Mesa in their declaration that “Coal is the liver of the Female Sacred Mountain” and join them in action to ensure that coal remains in the ground!

With love,

The Black Mesa Indigenous Support Collective: Hallie, Liza, Berkley, Derek, & Tree

Black Mesa Indigenous Support (BMIS) is a grassroots, all-volunteer collective committed to supporting the indigenous peoples of Black Mesa in their resistance to massive coal mining operations and to the forced relocation policies of the US government. We see ourselves as a part of a people powered uprising for a healthy planet liberated from fossil fuel extraction, exploitative economies, racism, and oppression for our generation and generations to come. BMIS stands with the elders of Black Mesa in their declaration that “Coal is the Mother Earth’s liver” and joins them in action to ensure that coal remains in the ground.  

*Check out some of the Climate Summer of Solidarity Actions here:
**Read the NNHRC Report on Relocation here:–P.L.93-531.pdf
***Black Mesa Water Coalition


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