As we prepare for a season of resistance to tar sands mining in Utah, we remember the indigenous peoples living downstream who have been fighting extreme extraction for many years. Over the past year, we’ve had the chance to meet members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes who came to Moab to speak out against nuclear power and other forms of extreme extraction in August and April of 2014. We are tremendously inspired by their strength and conviction–as well as their success in fighting off projects like the proposed Ward Valley nuclear dump–and we want them to know that they are never far from our minds as we work to protect the Colorado’s headwaters from threats like tar sands and oil shale mining.
On April 24-25, members of the Colorado River Indian Tribes and indigenous allies visited Moab to speak out against the proposed Green River nuclear power plant and other forms of extreme extraction threatening the river and their lives and cultures. Joined by community members in Moab and the surrounding area, they marched through the town, sang traditional songs, and went to the mayor to deliver their message.
Check out this video of the events:
Some speakers decried capitalism and corporate-run energy systems, including supposedly cleaner” methods like the massive solar plantations threatening sacred sites. “The capitalist system is the number one enemy of traditional people. That’s why it’s hard to puncture,” said Alfredo Figueroa, a Chemehuevi elder and Sacred Sites Tribal Monitor who has been a leader in the fight to protect his people’s sacred sites from solar farms.
Klee Benally, a Dine activist and musician from the community of Black Mesa, highlighted how indigenous communities are the most directly impacted by all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle, from extraction to waste storage. “Indigenous bodies are inherently viewed as exploitable and pollutable,” he said. “Nuclear colonialism is the systematic domination and exploitation of indigenous lands for the nuclear production process.”