By Jeanette Hart-Mann
September 25, 2015
During the fall we spend time investigating critical issues facing the region and the communities whose homes are here. A new focus for this year was taking a closer look at resource extraction in the Four Corners region and specifically in Dinétah, the Navajo Nation which is ground zero for much of this activity. But this is not where it ends for these are issues that we all must face. We were blessed to have several Diné guides for this journey who took us into their homes across this big country to experience, first hand, the “cover-up,” that has occurred over the last century and that which continues into the present from uranium, coal, and oil/gas/fracking. Thank you Anna Rondon with the Navajo Birth Cohort Study, Larry Emerson, educator and farmer, Malcolm Benally, author of Bitter Water, and Etta Arviso of the Eastern Navajo Agency; who are all compassionate leaders and warriors willing to share these many stories of colonial oppression and share the strength of their culture and Blessing Way of healing, creation, harmony, and peace.
|Cornfields next to fracking pads|
September 22, Gather
Larry prepares us for our journey and teaches us to be present, have an open heart, and have no prior intentions. We perform a Sunset Ceremony and learn to feed our ancestors and give thanks for our food. We learn to be grounded in our love and be warriors against the dominance of colonial culture.
|Basecamp at Larry's educational permaculture site|
September 23, Uranium
Anna Rondon takes us to visit Monument Valley, Rare Metals Superfund Site, Tuba City, Moenkopi, Moenavi Dinosaur Tracks.
|Anna talking about Rare Metals Superfund site|
September 24, Coal
Anna Rondon takes us to visit Canyon de Chelley, Chinle, and then to meet Malcolm Benally at Big Mountain to see Black Mesa and the Peabody Coal site.
|Malcolm introducing us to the blasting area|
September 25, Oil/Gas Fracking
Larry takes us to meet Etta and she takes us on a driving tour of Eastern Agency patchwork, Counselor, and fracking sites near springs, houses, and schools.
|Etta and Larry talking at a fracking site|
This quick blog entry serves as a starting point for a much longer process of reflection and cultivation involving what I learned during this investigation along with the question of how art is an active catalyst for change and how creativity throughout culture builds capacity to re-think and re-enact our lives in the world. Looking at these complex environmental justice issues I know that ground zero is located in the Four Corners region, but we all play a role. Uranium, coal, oil and gas, like all their toxic constituents, are moving through our lives in both microscopic and macroscopic ways. As shifting scales between minuscule and immense they permeate local, regional, continental, and global worlds. It is all about power.
Artists can make a difference and the work they do performs far beyond the boundaries of any frame. As this investigation is peeled back its potential is held in the strength of healing and creation, of the individual and the collective to question power that poisons the world and find ways to walk in beauty together.
In February, Land Arts of the American West artists will be exhibiting a collaborative work about this investigation in partnership with the individuals and organizations we worked during our time in Dinétah. We will be posting more information about this in January.Below are more images from these four days of intense provocation
|Cars cars cars and vehicle tours at Monument Valley|
|At the view, Monument Valley|
|Framing similarities, Monument Valley|
|Remember plants, "They are alive....," Monument Valley|
|Rare Metals reclamation "cover-up"|
|Peabody Coal ironically demands more safety|
|Leaking community water-fill station|
|Peabody Coal conveyor|
|Peabody Coal conveyor, close-up|
|Fracking waste water treatment in Counselor|
|Industry trucks on community roads|
|Peering out from a sacred spring|
|Sarah filming perimeter with GoPro|