October 24, 2015

hope within a small piñon sapling

By CB Bryan
Four Corners 
September 24, 2015

The round cylinders of the fracking sites we visited are painted the exact green of the piñon trees in the surrounding hills. This is piñon picking season and the small roadside stands which have sold melon will now sell small bags of these tiny brown nuts. This is life. The nuts come from the trees which come from the ground which grow with help from sunlight and water. We eat the piñon and get that which the tree has gotten and thus we are one with the tree -- then the ground, the water, the light. It is in all of us. It is maybe in the fracking sites as well. For they are here -- situated next to the trees, planted in the ground -- using the same sacred water and the same sun which breathes life into everything beats down as they access the natural gas hundreds of feet below. The process is laden with sound. You can feel it through your entire body as it seems to access every part of you, eventually becoming a low background drone.

We visited sites with Etta Arviso and our host Larry Emerson. As we looked out on the mesas near Nageezi, dotted with piñons with that drilling sound in our ears, Etta gave a prayer. She pointed to a small piñon sapling -- so small you had to get down low to get it in its entirety. This little tree, born in the wake of such tragedy, is a sign of hope -- continued life. Etta knelt down next to it to sprinkle an offering of corn pollen and say a prayer in Navajo. As she did this a small herd of cows emerged from the road and circled around us.  In this moment I felt something and I can’t necessarily explain it but it rang through my ears and overpowered any other sound. My skin felt hot with the sun’s rays and all I could do was look deep into the hills -- asking them for their loving arms, as well as their forgiveness for what I feel is an immense environmental injustice. Why are we fracturing the Earth? Why are we mining on land that is not rightfully ours to mine? Why are we not listening to those directly affected by these invasive acts? Etta’s words are powerful and wise but within them you can feel pain. Within our host, Larry Emerson there is pain. Pain that I felt as well as we toured areas for resource extraction. This interaction is not something I have in my daily life. But it is constant in the areas that we visited. We are very fortunate to be tourists in this area.

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