We had a couple of really successful Honor the Earth shows in the Southwest last month. Both of these shows were held to benefit a renewable energy future in Native Communities. As a lot of you know, this has been a main focus for Honor since its inception. In these times of growing awareness and access to more resources for wind and solar development, we feel even more excitement than usual for what can be achieved in Indian Country.
We started out in Shiprock, New Mexico in Navajo country where communities have been in a stand off with Sithe Global Power and the Dine Power Authority over construction of a new coal fired power plant at Desert Rock. A group of hardy folks have been camped out since December where the proposed plant would be. This plant would drain the water aquifer even further and contribute an alarming amount of pollutants to the struggling atmosphere of the Four Corners Region where numerous other power plants already exists. The communities suffer from respiratory diseases and cancers from the current coal industry. They have continuously been asked to trade their health and ecosystem for an economy. The money raised from this show went to: Dooda Desert Rock Committee, Operation Desert Rock, Dine Citizens Against Ruining the Environment (DINE Care), and Utah Dine Bikeya Committee.
The event was a total communal effort with all the groups tabling in the lobby, Winona LaDuke speaking, and the Hopi Reggae band Casper opening the show. We ended the night with a Q and A between the audience and the beneficiaries that quickly turned into a really interesting public
We drove on our bio-diesel fueled bus to Flagstaff, Arizona for the next show. This show was the second half of the “turning bad energy to good” equation. Proceeds benefited Native groups within the Just Transition Coalition, such as the Black Mesa Water Coalition. The Just Transition plan is a totally brilliant model of how to shift to renewable energy. The Coalition developed this strategy when a super polluting power plant called the Mojave Generating Station closed down in Laughlin, Nevada. This plant served Southern California’s
power needs, but it did it by destroying the health and ecosystem of the Hopi and Dine people. When the plant was forced to close due to work by groups such as the Sierra Club, this team of strategists developed a plan that would take the revenues from the sale of Southern California Edison’s sulfur credits and turn the to good use. So Cal Edison received credits when the plant closed, these can be sold to other polluters that need them. It’s sort of a bad system of big profits that allows those with the money to keep polluting but it can also be used for good like in this case-where the money could go to the Hopi and Dine communities that sacrificed for decades to provide cheap power to the customers of So Cal Edison. This revenue from the sale of sulfur credits could amount to as much as 20 million dollars a year and give immediate relief for lost water and coal royalties, lost jobs from the closure, and support the building of a renewable energy industry in this region, which would provide jobs and income. What has been the most striking to see is that these communities don’t even use much of the power they generate. Many of them are still living off the grid and the rest don’t benefit because most of the power is transported off the reservations. After draining the water aquifers and poisoning the earth and sky, this plan would usher in a new energy economy to the Dine and Hopi people, who have suffered the most for the sake of our energy needs. I think the Just Transition is a model for turning the tide of our energy future.
The show itself was very festive. Hoop dancer, Nakotah LaRance opened the event, Sonaya and the People’s Crew played a set of world music, Winona spoke, and we ended the night with an IG music set. We had an auction to sing with us that raised about $4,700. Cheers to Jamie Gillette, Michelle Picini, Kerry Gilbert, and Teresa Murphy for donating the money and doing a fine rendition of Closer to Fine.
Here is some video footage of the events. You can send your friends to YouTube to see these movies too. At some point we will also be posting a podcast of Winona LaDuke’s complete speeches.
Honor the Earth!