- Native Youth Movement members defending sacred mountains in
Vancouver joined Lakota from the Black Hills in South Dakota,
Hopi and Navajo from Black Mesa, Ariz., and Chicano from the barrios
of Tucson and urged one another as spiritual warriors, during
Tonatierras workshop for indigenous youths.
had to come here to realize what I have inside myself," said
Shirley Alvarada, indigenous youth from Peru, speaking of the united
effort stemming from Tonatierras indigenous rights efforts
in downtown Phoenix.
and Black Mesa Water Coalition youths worked for three months to
organize the day-long workshop and concert featuring Hopi reggae
artist Casper, Navajo rockers Blackfire and Chicano rock and hip-hop
bands from Los Angeles.
is an incredible energy here," said Victor E., rapper with
El Vuh hip-hop and consciousness band from Los Angeles.
are so many youths and theyre just taking it in. They are
just happy for knowledge and life," said Victor E., adding
that hip-hop is a tool to carry the message of the Xicano (Chicano)
Siete sounded out Cuban and Colombian rhythms, Quetzal provided
Afro-Chicano sounds and Slowrider added Chicano funk. Yaiva hip-hop
from Flagstaff also performed during the evening concert on March
the morning workshop, Alex White Plume, Lakota from Pine Ridge,
S.D., urged youths to raise their own food and develop wind energy
as true sovereigns.
raise our own buffalo because we do not want to eat cow meat anymore,"
White Plume said, adding that his family has been raising buffalo
Plume praised the youths gathered as the next generation of caretakers
and leaders, urging protection of the land, water, air, plants and
animals. "Our environment is being so abused that when we go
to ceremonies, our medicine people cry.
have to breathe the air, that is a sacred spirit."
Lakota spiritual teachings and Adam and Eve, White Plume said Lakota
teach that woman came first, and was here on this earth, and man
came from another planet. "Women are very powerful, they have
when the United States discovered oil, uranium and other minerals
in the Black Hills, Lakota were offered money. "They offered
us millions and millions of dollars, but we said we cannot sell
the Black Hills."
Plume said he wants to leave a better world for his grandchildren
and now his family is constructing a wind generator. "Wind
and buffalo, thats two things we are coming back to. We speak
our language, we do our ceremonies, we raise buffalo and we have
Plume urged indigenous youths to grow natural seeds in gardens as
an expression of sovereignty for their health, as water and food
sources become more contaminated. "Our body heals, the same
way our Mother Earth heals."
indigenous youths workshop concluded a week-long series of indigenous
rights events in Phoenix and Flagstaff, highlighted by Indigenous
Peoples Day March 11.
Teso brought nine teenagers from Mecha, the Chicano students
movement of Azatlan at Calli Ollin Academy in Tucson. He pointed
out that Hughes Missile Systems, later taken over by Raytheon, dumped
hazardous toxins into the groundwater on the south and west side
of Tucson, where Chicano, Tohono Oodham and Pascua Yaqui live.
Those toxins have seeped into the groundwater and now there are
cancer clusters in the neighborhoods.
is a high incidence of people dying from cancer," Teso said.
Missile System operated the federal weapons facility under contract
with the U.S. government, south of Tucson airport and surrounded
by Tohono Oodham, Pascua Yaqui and Chicano communities. The
state of Arizona identified the waste dumping and discharges as
responsible for contamination of the soil and water.
described dumping in communities from El Paso to Tucson. "They
dont think of us as first class citizens, they see us as squatters,
freeloaders and heathens."
Long, Navajo youth with Black Mesa Water Coalition, began the workshop
and urged Indian youths to make a positive change for their people.
He said when Navajo and Hopi youths saw what was happening to their
land, they decided to take a stand.
began to understand what environmental racism is." He said
today they are empowering themselves and working with self-determination.
are protecting the identity of our people. One of our biggest fears
is that the identity of our people will be lost."
Naha of Black Mesa Water Coalition described her identity as a Hopi,
woman and indigenous. Encouraging other youths, she said, "We
are caretakers of this land."
Hill, Hopi youth with the Black Mesa Water Coalition, said there
are many Hopi and Navajo people living around the Peabody Coal mines
on Black Mesa without running water and electricity, while Peabody
uses the pure aquifer water to slurry coal to Nevada for electricity
for the Southwest. "There are a lot of children being born
with asthma and respiratory conditions. A lot of the elderly dont
even know what the coal is being used for."
said two years ago the Hopi Tribe entered into an agreement with
Reliant Energy to build a power plant and never informed Hopi tribal
members about the pollution of the land, air and water.
one knew about it in our community. We really got a huge uproar
from our community," Hill said.