Coal is in short supply, rapidly depleting

April 25, 2013

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I read a very interesting letter in the April 21st edition of the Navajo Times about the Navajo Mine purchase. I concur with the author. It has been causing me sleepless nights.

To make my comment short I think the nation is being driven into a sour deal. The world is becoming less dependent on coal in producing energy. So, why is the Navajo Nation trying to spend millions of dollars in doing a feasibility study? It's not worth it in the long term.

Most of us know that buying an "as-is product" is usually short lived and not worth the money in the long term. In other words, you get what you pay for. I think that is exactly what BHP wants to do.

I would imagine the heavy equipment and machinery are becoming dysfunctional and severely deteriorated which will be costly to repair and replace. Does the nation have the money in the millions for the upgrade? I don't think so.

I have seen the type of coal from Navajo Mine and in my view the quality is well below grade. A good portion of them is rock. My guess is the good quality of the coal has been mined by BHP in the last 40 or 50 years. In a matter of time only rocks will be mined instead of coal.

The issue of saving thousands of jobs for the Navajo mineworkers is a valid concern, however, I think the majority of the work force are probably nearing retirement.

And they should be allowed to retire early in time of the mine closure. Only a small segment will be impacted and I'm sure they wouldn't want to work at the tribal wage scale. The nation needs to lend its support to the Navajo miners for placements elsewhere.

My point of concern is coal is in short supply and rapidly depleting. BHP knows that and wants to bail out and give the mess to the nation much like the uranium industries did in years past. In short I hope I touched up on some points.

Vern Charleston
Farmington, N.M.

Family finds peace with peyote ceremony

In Tacheeni Scott's letter, "A mixing together of religion" in the April 10 issue of the Navajo Times, he claims, "It is wrong to mix a belief system."

My family and I are outraged by the derogatory comments made against peyote, a medicinal herb we consider holy and sacred, for it represents our belief and way of life. Then he talked about his 92-year-old father and uncles, who were medicine men and how they told him a bad medicine would come and many people would embrace it, but you are never to become involved with it.

First of all, if anyone was raised under the tutelage of elders, the first thing they would have taught is to remember their clans and protect them. They probably did not say to go away and leave the way of your people.

Secondly, the very core of our being was attacked. Why is it that people like to say bad things about something they don't know or understand?

Until one has sat through a peyote meeting, eaten it, and prayed for a deathly-ill loved one, he or she has no right to hurl unfounded accusations at it.

The article, "Day of Prayer" in the March 21 issue is what got Mr. Scott started. I want to know what is so wrong with three different organizations joining together to pray for peace. We do need more of that kind of prayers…

We should be free to pray and talk to our Creator the way we want. My family and I find peace and contentment with our Azee' Bee Nahaghá peyote ceremonies.

Della Toadlena
Chinle, Ariz.

Moving toward energy independence

The Holy Ones (Diyin) instructed the people to pray facing east asking for blessings, guidance and protection in our daily lives.

As I go about my business of solar array sales here in Albuquerque, I stop and think how blessed my life has been and is now today. I moved into this sun fed industry so that I may be given the opportunity to help guide the people towards energy independence.

I have a good sell as the tribal enterprise Navajo Tribal Utility Authority does an outstanding job of offering electrical delivery to Navajo Nation residents at $0.07 per kWh. Would it be nice for the typical resident to have an electric bill under $40, while selling electricity back to NTUA?

In his speech before the council, our chief executive officer of the tribe was speaking on the importance of maintaining a great quality of life of all Diné. Sustainability is a word often used by the Navajo Housing Authority in its quest to find the solutions to the humongous demand for decent, affordable housing. I'm certain this topic has been in our daily dialogue with each other when talking about the future of the tribe and it's citizenry.

Perhaps I hold the answer, the goose that laid the golden egg. I have formed a partnership with a gentleman who is a disabled veteran. Together, we will speak with many people about why we can afford to sell the highest quality solar array technology, at a price that is approximately $10,000 below our closest competitor. An energy plan adopted by the council should have a 30-year vision and should include all facets of solar array technology.

I am born of the Black Sheep Clan, for The Towering House Clan, born in Fort Defiance to the late Dolly Ann Murphy and Ernest Murphy, and great-grandson to the late Yidilthbah Silversmith of Pine Springs and to the late Nanabah Marianito of Pinedale, N.M.

Pat Murphy
Albuquerque, N.M.

Is nation being cheated?

Were you affected by Navajo-Hopi Relocation? Is your chapter from the Western Navajo Agency or near NPL? Since 1969 we have been cheated out of billions of dollars to help the off reservation prosper while we still live in 1960s era.

Right now President Shelly and Council delegates are being catered to by SRP, Peabody to renew Navajo Generating Station lease expiring in 2019.

Over 44 years, Navajo Generation lease payments have been filtered into general account in Window Rock. Very low percentage has come back to help the affected chapters with housing, education, law enforcement, social services, roads, economic development so forth.

If the percentage was high, 21 chapters should have received $113,900 each year since 1969. Coppermine Chapter would have had a mini mart, police substation, feed store, preschool, paved roads, water lines and a computer lab.

Of the past 44 years, 22,000 Navajo residents of WNA chapters or NPL are still hauling water from unregulated wells.

Who is cheating our nation of prosperity? Greedy corporations and our very own Navajo Nation leaders who want to extend NGS without debated or amendments.

We should be setting our own terms. Example: Our tribal payments per year should be $127 million, $35 million for coal bonuses and finally our water fee should be $60 million...remember that's per year.

This could be the case if our leadership was strong and educated themselves on economics including accounting. They need to listen to our grassroots instead of labeling them "environmentalist".

We as part of the affected chapters/voters need to stand up and remove our current leaders who are not fighting for our fundamental rights and our future generation's homeland.

Calvin Johnson
Leupp, Ariz.

Navajo remains, artifacts relocated

Recently, a 5.5-year plan for repackaging of 1.3 million remains and artifacts was developed by Peabody Western Coal Company. These items are a collection of antiquities from the Black Mesa Archaeological Project (1962-1982), which were removed under federal policies.

Apparently unknown to most Black Mesa residents, and the Navajo at large is where this property was relocated to. The excavated remains were relocated to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where the collection is so large it is curated at separate facilities. A new "neutral" facility for construction is being planned behind closed doors for NAU to house them.

Underway, while PWCC pleas for the Council's attention for conducting more mining and expansion, these remains are located within an hour's drive of their headquarters in St. Louis.

Carbondale and Peabody resist any request for visitation by local Diné medicine people, who are alarmed that the items are being repackaged and not returned for reburial. Peabody claims they do whatever the Navajo Historic Preservation Officer says. However, the NHPO has not returned people's correspondence, including NAU's George Gumerman who wrote that he was taking them, in the 1980s.

PWCC claims that they will not release historic mining documents, excavation forms and maps in their curated entirety because to do so would prompt looting of sites.

Why is it prohibited that medicine people cannot visit the collection to prepare for return, but archaeology students can if they sign up for a class?

This collection may include names of original relocatee families, not held by the land commission. This collection does hold 200 Navajo remains, including men, women, children and one unborn.

PWCC in the 2008 EIS, and further in permits submitted, claims to have a restoration plan for the region, as promised in their contract with the tribe. To this date, no real restoration and rehabilitation has been observed, other than Peabody's claim they fill restored areas with burnt rock and contaminated rubbish from the underground coal fires.

Restoration, reclamation and repatriation are all promises that Peabody has made to continue its profiteering leases on Navajo lands. The Navajo have honored their part of the agreement, surrendering tremendous profit to PWCC at the cost of Navajo people, many relocatees.

PWCC continues to refuse to work with local organizations, and local people in real definitive restoration of the environment.

Now is the time for the Council to consider real measures to quantify reclamation. Now is the time for the Council to test PWCC's promises, and repatriate the Black Mesa Navajo remains back to the people, and to the medicine people who's job it is to rebury them.

Clearly, if the question is jobs, PWCC can certainly provide jobs through reclamation and repatriation by building the facility with the tribe, perhaps the JUA for neutrality.

Jennafer Waggoner-Yellowhorse
Kayenta, Ariz.

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