Elouise Brown, foreground, protesting the Navajos’ planned 1,500-megawatt power plant near Burnham, N.M., with her sister Victoria Alba. Image from nytimes.com
Last week Venaya, Esther and I had the great opportunity to interview Navajo activist Elouise Brown, founder of Doodá Desert Rock (Absolutely No Desert Rock), the group that started the wave of protests against a third major coal-fired power plant in the four corners area, The Desert Rock Power Plant. The movement has been successful in stopping the momentum for Desert Rock, but efforts towards resource and energy extraction creating extreme levels of pollution in the area continue at a rapid pace. It was an extremely emotional and moving interview, Elouise has dedicated her life to this cause and has endured many personal sacrifices to help not only the Navajo people living in the area, but all of us.
As she states in this article in Earth First:
Toxic emissions levels from industry are already lethal in the region. Local citizens and non-profit organizations have compiled statistics about health care, insurance, financial stability and environmental issues. They have looked at endangered cultural philosophies in an industrial existence. The people cannot afford another suicidal decision on a power plant with disputed benefits for the community. The price will be high for the Diné. We will pay with our lungs, our health, our descendents and the land that defines our people…As a resident of the Earth, you are involved. Maybe you are not directly involved now, but eventually you or your children will be. We extend our gratitude to our supporters for all of your contributions. We welcome all who wish to save sacred indigenous lands from corporate intrusion.
We will post the text and audio of this interview soon, to learn more about Elouise’s work, see this 2007 article in the NY Times.