The Black Mesa Syndrome: Indian Lands, Black Gold
by Judith Nies
B lack Mesa is not black and it is not a mesa. It is four
thousand square miles of
ginger-colored plateau land in northern Arizona, a distinct elevated landmass the shape of
a bear's paw. On a map, the Black Mesa coal Þeld looks like an inkblot on a Rorschach
test, following the contours of the Pleistocene lake it once was. Over thousands of years
the vigorous forests and plant life embraced by the lake decayed into a bog which in turn
hardened to coal--some twenty-one billion tons of coal, the largest coal deposit in the
Until 1969, the coal lay untouched and so close to the
surface that the walls of the dry
washes glistened with seams of shiny black. With a long-term value estimated as high as
$100 billion, it lies completely under Indian reservation lands, for Black Mesa is also home
to some sixteen thousand Navajos and eight thousand Hopis. In 1966, the Hopi and
Navajo tribal councils--not to be confused with the general tribal population--signed
strip-mining leases with a consortium of twenty utilities that had designed a new
coal-Þred energy grid for the urban Southwest. Under the umbrella name WEST (Western
Energy Supply and Transmission), the utilities promised more air conditioning for Los
Angeles, more neon lights for Las Vegas, more water for Phoenix, more power for
Tucson--and for the Indians, great wealth.
Today, thirty years after the strip mining for coal began,
the cities have the energy they
were promised, but the Hopi and Navajo nations are not rich--that part of the plan proved
ephemeral. Instead, Black Mesa has suffered human rights abuses and ecological
devastation; the Hopi water supply is drying up; thousands of archeological sites have
been destroyed; and, unbeknownst to most Americans, twelve thousand Navajos have
been removed from their lands--the largest removal of Indians in the United States since
In the following pages, I want to untangle what went wrong
on Black Mesa. When you
look at the map of Arizona on this page, you see a series of lines radiating out from the
Black Mesa coal Þeld. Each line represents the enormous political and economic powers
that have shaped the contemporary reality of this region. And yet, for twenty-Þve years,
the American press, with few exceptions, has presented the Black Mesa story as a
centuries-old land dispute between two tribes. The story that has not yet emerged is
about the syndrome in which transnational corporations take and exploit indigenous lands
with the cooperation of host governments. I want to hold up Black Mesa as a domestic
example of that global syndrome, and I want to ask why our free press has largely been
unable to tell the truth about Black Mesa.
Chester Arthur's Square
Surrounding the ink blot of the coal deposit on the map above is an almost perfect square
of land--one cartographer's minute by one cartographer's minute--drawn by President
Chester Arthur in 1882. His Executive Order created a reservation for Indians as the
government might "see Þt to settle therein."
Why would Arthur, a New Yorker and a product of political
patronage, give a land grant
three-fourths the size of Connecticut to a population that consisted of eleven hundred
Hopis, three hundred Paiutes, and a few hundred Navajos? The answer has far less to do
with safeguarding Indian residency than with timber, copper, and coal.
Chester Arthur was a rich man with rich tastes and no
stranger to the alchemy of
transforming government service into economic wealth. As far as we know, he never
visited the West, but he was knowledgeable about Western railroad charters, land grants,
and mineral exploration leases. He understood the trick of transforming wilderness into
public domain lands, and then into prospecting leases. He understood how business and
government worked hand-in-glove. In those days, land development companies were
frequently subsidiaries of the railroads, and several years before the transcontinental
railroad reached Arizona in 1881, the U.S. government had already explored, surveyed,
and mapped the mineral riches of the Arizona Territory. Also in advance of the railroads,
the government sent the Army to subdue the "savage tribes," such as the Navajos in the
north and Apaches in the south, who blocked access to Arizona's resource-rich lands.
"The only minerals discovered in this region are
coal and copper," wrote surveyor A. M.
Stephen in 1879 to his superior, General Howard, who also held the title of Indian
Inspector. "The coal deposit is lying between Oraibi and Moenkopi," the report continues.
"The only white people...are about twenty families of Mormons at MoenKopi [sic] and
Tuba City." Stephen accompanied his survey with a map of the coal deposit location.
Arthur understood immediately the implications of the
map. If the Mormon families were
allowed to continue to settle and improve their lands, they would, according to the
provisions of the Desert Lands Act of 1877, be able to buy 160 acres at $1.25 per acre.
They would also gain title to whatever mineral resources lay beneath those acres. But if
the same lands were removed from the public domain and designated as Indian
reservation lands, they would no longer be open to white settlement. On December 17,
1882, Arthur signed the Executive Order Reservation of 1882 "for the use and occupancy
of the Moqui [Hopi] and such other Indians as the secretary of the interior may see Þt to
settle therein." By this act, Arthur kept control of the mineral resources of the region, and
set them aside for another day.
The West, American myth tells us, was a place where there
was real freedom--where you
came with what you could carry and you made a life from it. The government was
meddlesome, an intrusion, an invasion into the individual resourcefulness of the Western
pioneers. That is the myth. In reality, the government and big business made it all
John Boyden and the Peabody Leases
Chester Arthur's square remained untouched for seventy-Þve years, into the 1950s, when
a Utah lawyer named John Boyden found a way to transmute the coal of Black Mesa into
gold. A bishop in the Mormon Church and a former U.S. attorney, Boyden's dapper,
modest appearance masked a Þerce ambition and the hardball skills of a trial attorney.
Beginning in 1957, he began to craft the legal, political, and economic strategy which
would open up the coal deposit of Black Mesa to major energy development.
As a Þrst step in his plan, Boyden needed the cooperation
of the tribal council of one of
the Indian tribes on Black Mesa. He approached the Navajo, who turned him down. He
then went to the Hopi, whose leaders were bitterly factionalized between traditionals and
progressives. Lacking a governing tribal council since 1938, the Hopi had no legal entity to
hire Boyden, but as a law partner of the man who wrote the 1946 Indian land claims law,
Boyden was knowledgeable about both tribal council politics and Bureau of Indian Affairs
policies. Accompanied by the government Indian agent, he set about traveling to all the
Hopi villages, and talking to all the Hopi men who spoke English and who had been to
government boarding schools. In the process, Boyden created a new tribal council.
Boyden was controversial from the minute he assumed his
new role. One of his Þrst
actions was to introduce a bill in Congress creating a special court to allow the Hopi to
sue the Navajo to clear title for the coal lands. Thousands of Navajos had settled on Black
Mesa, and no energy company would take a chance on a lease that could be contested.
Of the bill, Hopi leader Dan Katchongva wrote prophetically in 1956, "If [this bill] becomes
law, it will destroy our Hopi way of life, religion and law.... The majority of the Hopis are
against him as a lawyer."
The traditional Hopi were furious with Boyden's role and
saw his presence as an intrusion
from Washington. Caleb Johnson, a Hopi student at Princeton Theological Seminary
writing to the Senate on behalf of traditional Hopi priests, made the astute observation that
leadership of the Hopi and the boundary issue were linked. He added that leadership had
a religious component and that the man Boyden had chosen as Hopi chairman was not
respected. "The chairman of the tribal council," he wrote, "is a man who does not have a
good record and has been convicted of a felony in a Federal court."
Others opposed the bill too, including the U.S. Attorney
General William Rogers, on
grounds that Indian land issues and reservation boundaries derived from treaties that were
outside American property law. But in 1962, the special court did clarify title to the
subsurface mineral estate and divided the surface rights. The Supreme Court declined to
hear an appeal, and in 1966 the leases were signed.
At the top of the 1882 boundary (see map) are two irregular
rectangles. These represent
some sixty-Þve thousand acres leased by the Hopi and Navajo tribal councils to the
Peabody Coal Company of Kentucky, the largest coal producer in the United States. The
leases were signed secretly by the tribal councils and the company in 1966, with no
larger tribal referendum on either side. The Navajos tried to block the mining equipment by
setting up blockades in the road. The Hopi priests eventually sued their own tribal council,
claiming the leases were illegal because they had been signed without a quorum.
John Boyden remained the Hopi's lawyer for thirty years.
Although he presented himself
as a humble country lawyer working for the Hopi pro bono, his fees--paid by the
government out of monies held in trust for the Hopi--totaled $2.7 million, a Þgure revealed
only after a Freedom of Information suit Þled by the Native American Rights Fund.
Kennecott Copper and Strip Mining
Today at Black Mesa, buckets the size of a four-story building peel the topsoil off in
mile-long strips--a technique called strip mining. Instead of burrowing into the earth to Þnd
the mineral seam, the land over the mineral deposit is removed. Bulldozers shape the
underlayers into enormous slag heaps, workers dynamite the exposed mineral bed, and
steam shovels load the coal into massive transport trucks. By the time the coal is
extracted, the land has turned gray, all vegetation has disappeared, the air is Þlled with
coal dust, the groundwater is contaminated with toxic runoff (sulphates particularly), and
electric green ponds dot the landscape. Sheep that drink from such ponds at noon are
dead by suppertime.
In 1966, Kennecott, an international mining company seeking
to diversify, bought
Peabody Coal. Four years later, John Boyden moved his law ofÞces to the tenth þoor of
the Kennecott Building in Salt Lake City, overlooking the Mormon Temple. As Boyden
leveraged this land issue into a huge case, he violated a basic tenet of legal ethics: he
represented two sides in the same case, working simultaneously for the Hopi tribe and for
Peabody Coal. Although his former partners maintained it was "a mistake" that Martindale
Hubbell, the national legal directory, listed Peabody Coal as one of Boyden's Þrm's
clients, legal scholar Charles Wilkinson published an article in a 1996 issue of Brigham
Young University Law Journal reproducing Boyden's correspondence with both parties.
When Boyden wrote to the Peabody vice president as a Peabody attorney, he addressed
him as "Dear Ed"; when he wrote to him as a Hopi attorney, he called him "Dear Mr.
Not surprisingly, Boyden had not done particularly well
for his Hopi client in the lease
provisions: low royalty rates (the two tribal councils split a royalty rate of thirty cents a ton
at a time when the government royalty rate for coal extracted on public lands was $1.50 a
ton), few environmental safeguards, and no provisions for renegotiation. The worst,
however, was the provision that allowed Peabody to pump four thousand acre-feet
(approximately a billion gallons) of water a year to run a coal slurry line.
The Black Mesa Coal Slurry Pipeline
The dotted line on the map that extends 273 miles from Black Mesa to the Mohave
Generating Station represents this slurry line, the only operating coal slurry line in the
United States. A slurry line, for those who have never seen one, operates like a giant
garbage disposal, grinding huge chunks of coal into nugget-size pieces through enormous
steel blades, mixing them with water, then sluicing the batter through a pipeline. For this
operation, Peabody Coal has pumped a billion gallons a year for almost thirty years from
the Black Mesa aquifer, the sole water source for the Hopi and Navajo peoples of the
region. In these three decades, groundwater levels have dropped, wells and springs have
dried up, and the entire ecology of Black Mesa has changed: plants have failed to reseed
and certain vegetation has died out.
"The water has become more valuable than the coal,"
exclaimed Hopi Marilyn Masayesva
at the government's environmental hearings. "The water is priceless. No amount of
compensation can replace the source of life for the Hopi and Navajo people. It is
absolutely immoral and irresponsible for the federal government to support a continuation
of mining activities." Ms. Masayesva was one of hundreds of Hopi and Navajo who
testiÞed in 1989 about the negative effects of mining on their lands and against the
government's extension of the mining permit. Thousands of years of water had been used
up in a few decades. The government's environmental impact report concluded, however,
that water "was outside the scope of their study" and the mining continued.
One cold March day in 1990, I visited the ofÞce
of Black Mesa Pipeline, Inc. A dusting of
snow still lay on the ground. In the distance, a weak sun illuminated the drag lines and I
glimpsed cone-shaped piles of coal waiting to be fed into the conveyer belt. Lowell
Hinkins, the operations manager, assured me that there was no connection between the
Indian wells going dry and the operations of the slurry. The pipeline wells went a thousand
feet deeper than the shallow wells of the Hopi and Navajo, he told me. He also conÞrmed
that, yes, "Black Mesa is the only operating coal slurry line in the United States. The
others are being built in China and Russia." I had just had seen a company video that
claimed coal was bringing economic prosperity and the "Þner things of life" to the Hopi
and Navajo. But it is hard to deÞne prosperity.
The effects of coal slurry pipelines on water tables are
known, and in all-white
communities where such pipelines have been proposed, citizens have had enough
political voice to defeat them. The larger truth about the Black Mesa pipeline must include
the fact that it was built in part as an experiment--to test and improve technology primarily
intended for other countries, like China and Russia. The Bechtel corporation had designed
the pipeline in conjunction with a new design for an electrical generating station--the
Mohave Generating Station of Laughlin, Nevada--which was also a test of technology for
dewatering coal slurry. The owners of the new plant were Los Angeles Water and Power,
Southern California Edison, Nevada Power (Las Vegas), and the Salt River Project
(Phoenix)--all members of the energy consortium, WEST. In terms of population served by
the utilities, their combined political power represented seven state governors, fourteen
senators, and at least forty-eight congressmen.
The Mohave Generating Station
When the Mohave plant was completed, Bechtel's company magazine saluted it as "1.5
million megawatts for the West." Twenty-eight years later The Los Angeles Times
observed, "The Mohave Generating Station is the biggest uncontrolled source of sulfur
dioxide in the Southwest--a prime contributor to the gaseous haze that clouds visibility
over the Grand Canyon."
Bechtel, of course, is famous for its multibillion dollar
projects, and for shaping the politics
and technology of the markets in which it does business. With forty thousand employees,
Bechtel has built the three largest government-funded projects in U.S. history--the Hoover
Dam, the Central Arizona Project, and the Central Artery Project in Boston.
When the Mohave plant opened in 1970, it raised new questions
of strategic planning. A
second plant, the Navajo Generating Station near Page, also engineered by Bechtel, was
due to go on line in 1974. The two plants combined would require twelve million tons of
coal a year for at least Þfty years. Black Mesa would become home to the largest strip
mine in the United States. What to do about the thousands of Navajos who lived in the
way of the mining?
John Boyden was up to the challenge. He went back to Congress
with new legislation to
divide Black Mesa and give almost a million acres to the Hopi. By transferring land to the
Hopi, who lived far away from the stripmining, Navajo residents would become trespassers
on the newly designated Hopi land, and the cost of removing them would be borne by the
government. To frame the issue for Congress, Boyden hired a public relations Þrm that
created a largely Þctional range war between the cattle-ranching Hopi and the
In 1974, Congress, somewhat distracted by Watergate, passed
Boyden's bill and granted
the Hopi 900,000 acres. The law also provided for the physical removal of the Navajo (by
the Indian Relocation Commission), but the problem, of course, was that there was
nowhere for the Navajo to go.
Congress had no plans for alternative lands, no provisions
for housing or health care or
social services to acclimate the Navajo to an urban environment. Suicide and alcoholism
became endemic among the displaced Navajo, but by the 1980s, when the Navajo and
their supporters came to Congress to protest their situation, they had a hard time Þnding
listeners. Peabody Coal had a new parent, a private holding company which included
Bechtel. And by then, Bechtel was entrenched in government: Bechtel's former president
George Schultz was Secretary of State; its former legal counsel, Caspar Weinberger, was
Secretary of Defense; and former director of Bechtel Nuclear, Ken Davis, was Assistant
Secretary of Energy. The president of Peabody Coal served on Reagan's Energy Advisory
The Navajo Generating Station at Page
While the Mohave Generating Station is a model of bad technology in the service of
terrible land use, the Navajo Generating Station, at the Arizona-Utah border, is a case
study of a political process out of control. As soon as the Mohave plant was completed,
Bechtel moved its construction crews to the tiny town of Page, Arizona, overlooking the
scenic Glen Canyon Dam, to begin construction on a second electrical generating
station--another giant at 2,250 megawatts, the second largest utility station in the U.S.
Somebody named it the Navajo Generating Station, a name rich in irony, since fewer than
half of Navajo families have electricity.
The U.S. government was the single largest owner. The
Department of the Interior needed
the electricity to run a federal water project, the Central Arizona Project (see map), locally
known as CAP. CAP is a concrete highway for water--infrastructure that lifts the waters of
the Colorado River over three mountain ranges in order to carry it to Phoenix and Tucson.
This engineering feat involves siphons, tunnels, dams, reservoirs, and Þfteen electrically
powered pumping stations. "With enough money, anything is possible," an engineer told
me when I asked about the economic rationale for growing crops by means of the most
expensive subsidized water in the world. The power to run the Þfteen pumping stations
comes, of course, from Black Mesa coal.
The political issues raised by the Navajo Generating Station
are unique. The majority
owner of the plant is the Bureau of Reclamation in the Department of the Interior. Within
the same interior department is the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the agency legally entrusted
with safeguarding Indian lands and resources. Questions immediately arise: How can the
U.S. government exercise its trusteeship responsibility toward Indians when one of its
agencies is beneÞting directly from the coal leases that it encouraged the Indians to sign,
negotiated by lawyers that it had appointed? Did the BIA exercise its Þduciary
responsibility in negotiating the leases on Black Mesa? Who reviews conþicts of interest
within the government?
In an era of transnational corporations operating all
over the globe, the methods of
separating indigenous peoples from their lands and natural resources have outstripped the
capacity of any agency or nongovernmental organization to monitor or regulate. In what
forum can we debate and redirect such dealings, which have such profound effects on life
The line on the map that runs from Lake Havasu south to
Tucson represent 335 miles of
the most expensive water in the world. Phoenix and Tucson are located in the Sonoran
desert, the hottest desert in North America, and the day I toured the control room of the
Central Arizona Project, in August 1991, was a typical summer Phoenix day--113 degrees
in the shade. I chatted with the operations manager, a retired Navy man who told me how
they had built special bridges for wildlife crossings, fenced the aqueduct so that animals
wouldn't drown, and implemented other engineering feats of environmental sensitivity.
Looking at the pulsing computer screens and the operators who, with a few key strokes,
could release millions of gallons of water from the Colorado River into grapefruit orchards
and cotton Þelds hundreds of miles away, I wondered if it wouldn't be more sensible to
farm in regions with a better water supply--like rain.
The Line That Isn't There
The line that isn't on the map is formed by a barbed wire fence: the new boundary of the
Hopi reservation follows no known topographical feature. Shaped a bit like a thumb, it was
drawn by John Boyden in 1974, the same year that the Navajo Generating Station came
on line and the same year that his little-noticed bill passed Congress. The Hopi Land
Settlement Act divided Chester Arthur's 1882 reservation between the Hopi and Navajo.
Boyden drew the line so that it gave approximately nine hundred thousand acres to the
Hopi, who did not live over the coal, and relocated, at taxpayer expense, the twelve
thousand Navajos (and sixty Hopi) who did. The Hopi Land Settlement Act also renamed
the newly delineated land as the Hopi Navajo Joint Use Area, Hopi Partition Land, and
Navajo Partition Land. The Þnal version was introduced by Utah Congressman Wayne
Owens (who, when defeated in reelection, became a partner in Boyden's law Þrm).
In Los Angeles, air conditioners hummed. Las Vegas embarked
on an enormous building
spree to make gambling a family vacation. Phoenix and Tucson metastasized out into the
desert--building golf courses and vast retirement developments with swimming pools and
fountains. Few realize that much of the energy that makes the desert "bloom" comes from
the Black Mesa strip mines on an Indian reservation. Even fewer know the true costs of
The Syncline and Roberta Blackgoat
Over thousands of years the Black Mesa coal Þeld was subjected to tectonic pressures
and extrusions of molten rock hundreds of feet below the surface that caused the coal bed
to fold and curve. Geologists call the curvature that comes close to the surface a
syncline. (On the map, a syncline is indicated by a wavy line with a slash through it.)
Roberta Blackgoat lives over a syncline. A Navajo who
has lived on Black Mesa all her
life, Roberta's cosmology tells her that she is inseparable from the land that surrounds
her. When each of her children was born she buried his or her umbilical cord in her sheep
corral to connect them to the land from which they come and the sheep who support
them. (With sheep, the older Navajos say, "you've always got food on the table and
clothes on your back.") When I visited her in February of 1991 I asked about the new
boundary line and her view of the forces that dictated her relocation from land her family
had lived on since the 1860s.
"The coal," she answered with a shrug. She was
sitting at her loom in the back of her
hogan weaving. I sat on a sheepskin spread over a dirt þoor. I had placed my tape
recorder next to her loom. As we talked she repeatedly referred to the altar. Finally I
asked, But where is the altar? Here. Here, she answered impatiently. Eventually I
understood that the altar was the spot where she was sitting, the hogan itself.
When I looked at the frame, I saw large logs, all placed
in the direction they grew and in
relationship to the sacred mountains of Dinetah, the land of the Navajo. A hogan, Roberta
explained, is sung into place. Is there also a carpenter? I wanted to know. She shook her
head. No carpenter. Songs. A ceremony brings a hogan into being. As we talked, I began
to understand that a hogan replicates the Navajo universe in miniature, and that all human
activity is directed towards remaining in balance with the earth and universal forces. Many
Navajo people who move into the city often build a hogan in their backyards as a place to
reestablish spiritual connection with the earth and to bring their lives into balance.
Roberta, whose grandmotherly appearance belies her forceful,
astute leadership of the Big
Mountain resistance, described to me a paradigm in which the earth is a sacred and living
organism, in which human beings and the earth exist in a reciprocal relationship. This
reciprocity is the foundation for her life. We are the people of the earth's surface, she told
me, and no more important than the winged creatures or four-legged beings. The day
before, as we rode to Keams Canyon, she tried to translate this concept into Anglo terms.
The church is everywhere, she said. Land is the repository for religion, economics,
sociology, history, science. And that is why she couldn't leave her land. And what about
the coal, I asked, in the hogan. The shuttle stopped. Roberta spoke very clearly. "The
coal is the liver of the earth," she said. "When you take it out, she dies."
It was my turn to sit in silence. Separated by only Þve
feet of space, we were occupying
two different models of reality. I had been taught that land was a kind of primal þooring for
human beings, of value only when prodded into productive use. Roberta was describing
the earth as the living host for all life. She was talking about earth's sustaining properties
in a way that we, educated in the world of Western science, have only recently begun to
call the biosphere.
How does one calculate the true costs of extinguishing such a complex culture?
True Costs and New Stories
Divide and conquer has a long history in America as a technique of removing Indians from
their lands, a situation that is being replicated by transnational corporations throughout
the world. As former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros Ghali observed
about the struggles of indigenous peoples, "Cultures which do not have powerful media
are threatened with extinction. The instruments of mass communication remain in the
service of a handful." Over the past twenty-Þve years over twelve thousand Americans
have been removed from their lands. Over a billion dollars of taxpayers' money has been
spent to accomplish this human rights abuse.
Yet this story has never made it onto the six o'clock
news. Today's news must be
presented simply, and dramatically--with plot, character, scene, motivation. A complex
story that blends economics, politics, anthropology, history is hard to tell in our free
press. And a story that examines fundamental corporate activities is hard to tell in a
corporate-owned media. As recently as 1996, The New York Times called the struggle
between the Hopi and Navajo "a centuries-old tribal dispute." In April 1997, The Boston
Globe devoted thirty-three column inches to a story on the Hopi and Navajo boundary
issue without once mentioning the word "coal" or stating that the largest strip mine in the
United States operated on those same lands. In February 1998, The Los Angeles Times
presented a new spin: it is better to keep polluting than to deprive the Indian tribes of their
coal royalty checks. Cleaning up the Mohave plant (actually it is the Navajo plant that is
the prime polluter) "pits the interests of the environment against the economic needs of
some of the nation's poorest citizens--the Native Americans of the Southwest." The
implications of that debate, as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power general
manager told us, provide "a sneak preview of the dilemmas to come as we try to grapple
with the implications of global warming and air pollution in developing nations that depend
on the energy industry."
Hopefully, that false syllogism will be refuted when the
real story of how the Mohave plant
was developed Þnds a public. To date, the news of events at Black Mesa has been
shaped into the preferred narratives of corporate America--stories of corporate might
grappling with economic progress, technological innovation, entrepreneurial capitalism,
the settling of the American West, making the desert bloom. In the age of global
capitalism in which corporations have bought the media, it is not surprising we see few
stories about effective political resistance. Journalists look for a smoking gun in the
corporate energy development on Black Mesa and, Þnding none, abandon the story. It is
difÞcult to tell a story of legal theft, a story in which corporations have the political power
to pass laws. But as the Navajo and Hopi have tried to explain, Black Mesa, once
destroyed, will not come back. And we are all impoverished by the forces operating at
Black Mesa, which degrade both culture and nature, and offer us instead a
pseudo-reality--a version of events that prevents clear analysis and creative thinking. We
need new tools, new narratives, new stories--including stories about an economics that
involves morality, an economics that helps us create the world we want to inhabit.
A year ago a delegation of Hopis and Navajos traveled
from Arizona to the London
stockholders meeting of Hanson's Ltd. (which had purchased Peabody in 1991) to protest
the company's role in the devastation of Black Mesa lands and water. Lord Hanson called
his security guards to throw the visitors out, but not before The Daily Telegraph reported
their presence and took a photograph of Roberta Blackgoat offering a prayer. The prayer,
she said, was crucial. *
Judith Nies is the author of Seven Women: Portraits from
the American Radical Tradition
(Viking l977) and Native American History (Ballantine l997). She is a former congressional
speechwriter and assistant secretary of environmental affairs for the state of
Massachusetts. She writes on environment and politics.
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