Elders Circle of the 40-Year Sovereign Dineh Nation Resistance, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Save the Confluence, RAMPS, and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment worked in concert to hold a training camp at Big Mountain this May. As resisters to Peabody Energy from the decades-exploited lands in Appalachia, to the corporate headquarters in Saint Louis, to resisters of Peabody’s and the US Government’s forced relocation at Big Mountain, we came together to learn from one another and to plan for the future of our fight against this coal company. We also joined together to honor those 40 years of resistance to cultural genocide and mining on Big Mountain.
Direct action is not a new idea on Black Mesa, as active resistance has been practiced since the invasion of European colonists. Since the 1974 relocation act, which legalized the displacement 14,000 indigenous people and hundreds of Diné families, there have been countless acts of brave defiance against the political and corporate actors who seek to exploit the land and displace its people. This training camp was a place for the sharing of cultural and spiritual knowledge, the exchange of skills in nonviolent direct action, practice of healing arts, and vital dialogue across generational, racial, and cultural identities.
RAMPS and MORE members offered trainings in nonviolent direct action strategy and technique for those who came to camp to explore those tactics, and Chuck Nelson, D. Steele, and D. J. Estep spoke on a panel about the health and labor impacts of surface mining in Appalachia. This camp furthered the exchange between resisters in Appalachia and Big Mountain and strengthened a tradition of dialogue and mutual support that has been growing for many years, and which we plan to build into the future.