August 2016

True to Earth


Chili Yazzie


Wandering, hunting, living, loving life, we were once free.

One breath with the stars and earth, all that we could see.

On life path of blissful hardship where we were supposed to be.

With blessed ways, values and songs, we knew who to be.


Columbus came stumbling, unleashing euro-colonist attack.

Conquistador enslaved the people for God, Gold and Glory,

Mexican stole our women and children; we hit them back.

Eons-old paleface war on tribal peoples is our painful story.


Doctrine of Discovery commanded by the pope endorsed

annihilation to quench euphoric lust to amass all the gold.

Old world savages do genocide, imposing christiandom by force,

kidnap, slavery, disease blanket, long walk treacheries unfold.


Scheming U.S. government complicit in rape of our lands,

instituting colonial governmental ways to get the oil lease.

Our grandpa leaders didn’t see devious government plan

was to allow greedy corporations to dig up the energy beast.


With whispered prayers, miners go deep into the earth,

Unsuspecting, unprotected, they weren’t told of the danger.

Industry’s expendable family dying, uranium is our curse.

Our miner men are gone, left us with tears, cancer and anger.


Fifty long years of gouging out Black Mesa earth coal liver,

half of those years for only a rip-off 15 cents a ton.

Guilty, blameless, filthy rich BHP makes its exit, Indian giver

smiling sells dying mine to naïve Navajo under the gun.


Thousand tons of radioactivity sludges down Rio Puerco in 1979,

94 million gallons of toxic uranium water seeping deep down

contaminating our babies, the corporation continues to do us crime.

Water Warriors demand clean water justice, we standing our ground.


Thousands of abandoned leaking mines; devastation looms

killing our farms, our future, our sacred lands, our home.  

Gold King mine waste turns our river into acid yellow plume,

former ally EPA say, “water ok, leave me be, you on your own.”


Burrowing unrelentingly, recklessly into our fragile earth,

cash-cow frack disaster tsunami intrudes with U.S. flag unfurled.

Redneck oilmen reeking of booze, porno, drugs and cash flirt,

desperately lusting after our women and our indigenous girls.


Uninformed cash-broke families sign contract for fast-cash deal,

homes and land shatter by fracture, chemical flares light the night.

pressure cracked earth deep inside, wounds that will not heal.

Frack poison leaking into aquifer waters is our nightmare fright.


We say clearly and strongly that our earth is hurt and weary,

there is little notice, people are comfy, don’t seem to care.

Riches by greed, scheming for more is American way and theory.

Unconscionable exploitation destroying, earth life end is near.


We are earth, earth is us, we cedar and sing her our songs.

Government bureaucrats don’t see sanctity of sacred sites.

Crap on, dig up medicine mountains are sacrilegious wrongs.

Sleazy playground on a place of emergence is no way right.


Glacier is melting, ocean is rising, crazy weather ravaging,

wildfires blazing, ground is baking, natural world is dying.

GMO takeover, politicos selling our water, aquifer’s draining.

Coal burn climate change is here, earth is furious and crying.


Our elders lived the beauty and happy times of life of earth.

Now we see a future of troubles, what about our little ones?

Child of earth rise, sing the drum, stand to defend the earth.

Indigenous must turn the tide, weren’t we the chosen ones?


Chili Yazzie, a down-to-earth farmer, is president of the Shiprock Chapter and served as the first chairman of the Navajo Human Rights Commission. As a champion of indigenous peoples’ civil rights, Yazzie has participated in many non-violent actions. In 1978, in a probable hate crime, he was shot twice, resulting in the loss of his right arm.



Food Sovereignty and Traditional Knowledge Gathering for Climate Change Resiliency

August 12–13, Shiprock, Navajo Nation


Chili Yazzie

In these times of uncertainty of the life of our Earth Mother and all life on it, in these days of weather volatility and moments of apprehension on the quality of life for our generations to come, we search for a voice of reason and clarity on our condition. The Indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere have maintained their stories and songs and have retained their original relationship with the Earth and thus have answers that the world-in-trouble should be seeking.

The Shiprock community is hosting the Food Sovereignty and Traditional Knowledge Gathering for Climate Change Resiliency on Aug. 12 and 13. Appropriate knowledge will be shared on the condition of the Earth and what we must do. Time-honored practices will be shared on traditional Native agriculture, food preservation, Native plants and medicines, permaculture/watershed projects and water security. There will also be talks on the dilemma of Yellow River–Gold King Mine spill, fracking, indigenizing and decolonization, new directions in land, water, food policy and Indigenous leadership issues. We will draft a Declaration of Unity statement. Friday evening there will be camaraderie, song and stories.

The co-sponsors, Shiprock Chapter and the International Indian Treaty Council, invite one and all with a good heart and concern for the Earth Mother and the survival of life. Children are very welcome; after all, they are the reason for our life’s mission. There will be a children’s agenda. There are no hotels in Shiprock, so prepare to camp out. All facilities will be available. Bring your own dishes, as there will be no styrofoam or plasticware. Contributions of fresh foods (non-GMO) are requested. There will be no registration fees, but we welcome donations large and small to continue our work to defend our Earth and protect the life of our grandchildren. Contact:


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