As we traveled the country this summer visiting Native American farming and gardening projects, we talked to people about the challenges they faced in organizing their projects and growing their crops. In most of the communities we visited, there were concerns about the unpredictable and changing weather, and the impact this is having, and will increasingly have, on people’s abilities to grow food. In the southwest, communities were waiting longer than usual for rain. TOCA had delayed their planting until they could be sure that there would be water for the seeds to sprout. Farmers in Zuni, Pinon, White River, and different Pueblos around New Mexico were looking to skies for rain. Meanwhile in the Midwest, Anishnaabe, Dakota and Ho-chunk farmers and gardeners were being flooded. A cold, wet spring and early summer delayed planting, or drowned seeds that had been planted, and farmers were concerned about whether their corn would tassel and fruit in time before the fall frosts. These farmers spoke about how signs from nature that would usually indicate when it was time to plant were no longer quite reliable as the seasons become more erratic.
Water is a precious resource, and was evoked more than any other topic of discussion, from the desperate need for water in the southwest and California, to concerns about keeping the water pure in wild rice producing lakes in Minnesota. One of the greatest threats to water in these regions is the extraction and mobilization of fossil fuels. Black Mesa Water Coalition has been working to hold Peabody Coal Company accountable for the damage done to Black Mesa’s water, environment, and community health; to permanently close the coal mines on Black Mesa; and to replace the coal-fired power plants fed by the Black Mesa mines with renewable energy. They were successful in helping to close down the Black Mesa Mine, whose coal was mixed with water from the Navajo Aquifer – sole source of drinking water in the region – and slurried through a 273 mile long pipeline to the Mojave Generating Station (MGS) in Laughlin, Nevada. MGS provided cheap electricity for the major southwestern cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix for nearly 40 years before being shut down in 2006.
Honor the Earth has been fighting pipelines across Indian Country, focusing especially right now on rerouting the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline that would cross over several rice producing lakes in northern Minnesota. When (not if) these pipelines leak, they will destroy this important source of food for Anishnaabe people (post to come about the Honor the Earth horseback ride across Minnesota to raise awareness about this issue). And in Nebraska, Ponca and Lakota people are joining with concerned farmers and ranchers to plant sacred corn in the proposed path of the Keystone XL pipeline, to prevent it from crossing their lands and contaminating the Oglala Aquifer.
On September 21, close to 400,000 people from around the world gathered in New York City for the People’s Climate March to convey to the world leaders convened at the United Nations that action needs to be taken to prevent further climate change. To tell the story of the different parts of the climate movement, the march was broken into different sections. These photos are all taken in the “Front Lines of Crisis, Forefront of Changes: Indigenous, Environmental Justice and Other Frontline Communities” section of the march.