Monday, February 11, 2008

McCain and the Cross of Coal: GOP Front-Runner Tied to Theft of Navajo Lands

According to an article over at the American Computer Science Organization:
A public research website: has brought together diverse historical elements of factual proof that Senator John McCain's was the key "point man" introducing, enacting and enforcing law that removed Dineh-Navajo Families from their reservation on the Black Mesa in Arizona. The McCain revised law relocated them to Church's Hill, Nevada (a Nuclear Waste Superfund Site, called "the New Lands" in PL 93-531). The Dineh-Navajo, a deeply spiritual and peaceful people, engaged in only peaceful resistance to being moved off lands they'd owned since 1500 A.D. Nonetheless, the Public Press and UN depicted brutalization, rights deprivation and forcible relocation.
The cain2008 website quotes from the UN report directly:
"The Black Mesa region in Arizona, USA is home to the indigenous communities of the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi peoples. This region also contains major deposits of coal which are being extracted by North America's largest strip mining operation. The coal mines have had a major impact on families in the region. Local water sources have been poisoned, resulting in the death of livestock. Homes near the mines suffer from blasting damage. The coal dust is pervasive, as well as smoke from frequent fires in the stockpiles. Not coincidentally, the people in the area have an unusually high incidence of kidney and respiratory disease."

"The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death."

-- Marsha Monestersky for the UN Commission on Human Rights and Women Enacting Change at the UN
Will we hear more about the plight of the Sovereign Dineh Nation (SDN) in the mainstream media, or from the Democratic candidates? I won't hold my breath, as Native American issues don't even seem to register on their radar. That was made more than clear when Democratic President Bill Clinton left American Indian Movement [AIM] leader Leonard Peltier to rot in prison on frame-up murder charges, after already serving 25 years. Oh, and this was despite pleas for executive clemency for Peltier from Coretta Scott King, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Humans Rights, among others.

The Minnesota History Society briefly describes AIM's history:
AIM's leaders spoke out against high unemployment, slum housing, and racist treatment, fought for treaty rights and the reclamation of tribal land, and advocated on behalf of urban Indians whose situation bred illness and poverty. They opened the K-12 Heart of the Earth Survival School in 1971, and in 1972, mounted the Trail of Broken Treaties march on Washington, D.C., where they took over the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), in protest of its policies, and with demands for their reform.

The revolutionary fervor of AIM's leaders drew the attention of the FBI and the CIA, who then set out to crush the movement.
Leonard Peltier was a victim of the FBI program, Cointelpro. But it's not just secretive policies of the FBI and CIA. Mainstream politicians have participated in the rape and destruction of Native Americans since this nation's inception. Politicans like McCain work in tandem with the repressive apparatus of the state to line the pockets of the coal, mining and energy companies at the expense of the lives of poor Native Americans, mindlessly destroying their cultures in the process.

John McCain's lurid participation in the latest scandal is part of a terrible history, part of a history that must be cleaned up if this country is to survive in any effective sense, and not continue its dizzying descent into moral and economic chaos and violent repression.

Hat tip to Winter Rabbit for alerting me to this story. See her excellent article on it at Daily Kos.

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