Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment
Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment (Diné Care) is a Navajo environmental organization based in Winslow, Arizona formed in 1988 that works for land rights and against resource extraction on native lands. Diné is word by which the Navajo people refer to themselves. It means, roughly, “the people.” The group is a membership organization by and for Navajo peoples and other supporters of their causes. However, they do not collect dues for run membership drives, and, according to their website, their work is mostly funded by grants. As the group's website reads:
- Our members are not only those who are leaders in their communities, but all those Diné who strive to maintain a relationship with Mother Earth based on balance and harmony. For us, membership means taking up the cause of honoring our Earth, and honoring the perspective toward Mother Earth that has been handed down to us from our ancestors. We are local, community people working together on issues that affect our communities.
The group's website notes the following accomplishments:
- In 1988, formed to defend our first community of Dilkon, in the Southwestern portion of the Navajo Nation, from the threat of a toxic waste and incinerator and dump. After our Tribal government had already approved the dump and told us we were powerless to stop it, we educated ourselves and our community, organized and put a stop to the toxic waste plans.
- In the late 1980s we led a march on the New Mexico state capitol in a successful bid to press for the reform of alcohol sales in reservation border towns. We have been active in substance abuse counseling and reform.
- In 1990, co-founded the Indigenous Environmental Network.
- In 1991, defended the community of Huerfano, NM and our sacred mountain Dzil B Nä oodil Bii from a proposed asbestos dump. The dump was on its way to approval by the New Mexico land use board when we rallied community and Tribal support opposition. Ultimately, the company planning to dump there removed their proposal.
- In 1994, after years of struggle, we put a stop to reckless timber cutting in the Navajo Nation forests.
- In 1996, we started an innovative forest mapping project with the ultimate goal reforestation in the Chuska Mountains.
- In 1998 through the present, we have been involved in bringing relief victims of radiation exposure on the Navajo Nation, and in the fight to prevent future mining. Our biggest victory so far has been the reform of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.
The Navajo Nation is moving toward a clean energy future noted an October 2010 report in the New York Times. A grassroots movement within the tribe is seeking to replace coal power with wind and solar power alternatives. The Navajo Nation occupies all of northeastern Arizona, the southeastern portion of Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. It is the largest land area assigned primarily to a Native American jurisdiction within the United States and has a population of 300,000 people.
As of 2010 coal mines and coal-fired power plants on the Navajo Nation, as well as lands shared with the Hopi, accounted for 1,500 jobs and were a third of the tribe's annual operating budget, the largest source of revenue after government grants and taxes.
The grassroots movement has sprouted as a reaction to the environmental and human costs of coal use. Two coal mines on the reservation have shut down since 2005. The Black Mesa coal mine ceased operations because the plant where the coal was burnt was shut down. Coal mined on Navajo land is used to produce power for the state of California, where greenhouse gas emission reductions have taken place. As such, many Navajo believe that coal is a fuel of the past.
“It’s a new day for the Navajo people,” said Lori Goodman, an official with Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, a group founded 22 years ago. “We can’t be trashing the land anymore.”
At the core of the movement is the belief that Navajo peoples ought not mine natural resources. Some Navajo spiritual guides have said that digging up the earth to retrieve resources is "tantamount to cutting skin and represents a betrayal of a duty to protect the land."
Targeted coal plant proposals
Location: Winslow, AZ
Group website: Dine CARE
Contact: frazierann1 [at] hotmail.com
Related SourceWatch articles
- Arizona and coal
- Utah and coal
- New Mexico and coal
- Desert Rock
- Profiles of other states (or click on the map)