IJAN Attends Big Mountain/Black Mesa Gathering to Build Joint Struggle with Din

This June, two IJAN U.S. organizers attended a gathering held at Big Mountain/Black Mesa that focused on decolonization. Big Mountain/Black Mesa is a portion of the ancestral homeland of the Diné (Navajo) people who since the 1970’s have been resisting relocation by Peabody Coal and the U.S. Government over coal extraction.

The gathering, organized by Black Mesa Indigenous Support in collaboration with the community of resisters on Black Mesa,sought to lay groundwork for joint struggle by bringing together organizations working on the front lines of anti-colonial struggles, as well as allied organizations.

The week included a powerful lineup of workshops on the struggle on Black Mesa and the history of the Diné people; the Hawaiian sovereignty movement; the Palestinian Struggle against settler colonialism and Zionism; hip hop as a culture of resistance;the militarization of the U.S./Mexico border as it affects Tohono O’odham and other indigenous communities; and resistance to mountaintop removal, a form of coal extraction in the Appalachian region of the U.S. IJAN was asked to facilitate a discussion about the frameworks of solidarity and joint struggle.

The group had the honor of hearing directly from Diné resisters living on the land and involved in the struggle.  Many of them are elders in their eighties and nineties and steadfastly refusing to be relocated, in part simply by maintaining their traditional way of life. Participants also spent two days at homesites across Black Mesa herding sheep, digging outhouses, and performing other work projects.

The gathering was attended by Black Mesa community members, Diné youth, and representatives from the Palestinian Youth Movement, Forgotten Peoples, KaLei Maile Ali’i Hawaiian Civic Club, Idle No More Central Oklahoma, Great Plains Tars Sands Resistance, Radical Actionfor Mountains’ and People’s Survival (RAMPS), the Rebel Diaz Arts Collective, No More Deaths, the Just Seeds Artists Cooperative, Shining Soul (an O’odham and Chicano hip hop duo) and IJAN.