The Navajo Generating Station is located on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Photo: Salt River Project
Environment | Opinion

Kayla DeVault: Navajo Nation must take a stand to protect homelands





With President Donald Trump pulling the United States out of the global climate change accords, more and more tribes are taking action to protect the environment. Kaya DeVault, a young citizen of the Shawnee Tribe, urges leaders of the Navajo Nation to start planning for a future without coal and other fossil fuels:
The Navajo leadership took a stand with Standing Rock last year, despite the Four Corner’s poor track record for easing the exploitation of oil, coal, and uranium resources. And it’s a tricky place to be. On such a large nation with a tragically high rate of unemployment, it takes a lot of commitment to turn down even the most meager of energy contracts for an undeveloped dream of a just, green economy.

In fact, when Trump announced recently that he would not be supporting the Paris agreement and would instead move towards the four-year-long process of withdrawing, I couldn’t help but laugh a little for the administration was actually keeping its promise to all of the coal miners who had voted Trump into office. (When has the government ever kept promises?)

Yet Appalachia, where many of these coal miners are, is also an impoverished collective of Americans who often have a shared history of how they came to be in the mines. Streams run orange with acid mine drainage, the education systems are rated among the worst in the country, and rarely does a presidential candidate seem invested in the people there.

So, just as some Navajo politicians talk about the need for jobs, I could imagine many Appalachians feel equally backed into the corner with the threat of things like the Paris agreement –something that is foreseen to run the coal industry out of business

Read More on the Story:
Kayla DeVault: How Sovereign Do We Plan to Be? (Indian Country Media Network 7/15)