DEBATE over Objecting to BHP waiver of Liabilities

Debate begins over Shiprock Chapter President Duane “Chili” Yazzie’s proposed resolution for the Shiprock Chapter to Object to the Navajo Council’s approval of a waiver of liabilities for BHP in the purchase of BHP’s coal mine.

SHIPROCK COMMUNITY MEMBER, SAMMY: A lot of people probably already think that the mine is already purchase. I’m concerned about the basic rights of our people out there. I talked to lady who lives out there with her daughter by the mine. She has health problems. The livestock’s water gets so oily that they have to dump it daily. And they have to haul their water because they have no running water. And inside their house, there is so much dust that it even goes into their cupboards. The dust goes inside the house and cupboard from BHP blasting. Who is going to help that lady? For so long, our people have had to live with this coal dust. We may have lost some votes but we still have hope by passing this resolution which will help us in the future. We still have hope because the U.S. Department of Interior has to sign off on the mine purchase. Our own Navajo Nation Department of Justice told Department of Interior to stay out of mine purchase and that is wrong.

JOE ALLAN: My aunt lives near the mine. when it first built, people said there would be jobs. they told his grandmother to give them his land. They planted and the corn is small. when it rains, the smoke comes down on the plant, which is why plants grow small. My dad got Black Lund and died. Its’ scary. Where I live, I can see the smoke as I look towards Ute Mountain. We all need to send letters to our Council. And we should all wear masks. People speak for BHP to save their jobs. But I don’t like the mine. The Council goes into executive session when it makes decision on how to vote. There were people in line to get coal, even elders, but we were only allowed to get the coal from one pile and not another. We were told to stay away. I worked for a pipleline and I noticed that there were no Navajos, only Hispanics and White. I say No Navajo Mine! Thank you. People applaud.

BERNADETTE GOODLUCK:  I was born and raised in Shiprock and when in high school and entering college, 1970s, we were always against destruction of Mother Earth and now you see why. It’s been a detriment. But the powers that be they don’t come out and ask us and understand why we fight these things. Late Harris Arthur came out and did study on water and coal and found out $.25 ton and we were paying $2 to $3 per bag of coal. There are some that benefited from jobs at mine but now they are getting sick. The uranium was also out there and people who worked for uranium mine are now getting sick. What it says in legislation about no liabilities for those companies doesn’t sound right. Why are they letting them get away with this? Even when buy car, people don’t say, if it breaks down it’s your fault. As member of this community, I support this resolution. And when pass resolution, need correct wording, we can see and approve. I also agree with statement that was made about final approval coming from Department of Interior and the same for out water which was given away. I don’t agree with that but we have to live with that. We are chapter and we have voice and we can state our opinion and vote. But need correct wording. Also other items discuss such as anybody that does business with Navajo Nation Mine, we have to question. I appreciate Chile’s work and leadership here on resolution and ask again for correct wording. And I call for the vote.

J.C. BEGAY: I’m concerned about our respiratory. And I’m also concerned about uranium. I also agree that the Department of Interior needs to give final approval of the Navajo Nation’s purchase of BHP coal mine.

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