|Walk to proposed Desert Rock Power Plant Site|
It's always a special day when we are able to visit a sacred site – and pray as a group for it to remain so.
This morning a couple dozen of us walked through the desert to the proposed site of the Desert Rock Power Plant. Eloise Brown, who has worked tirelessely for two years opposing this project, reminded us: “Please, please do not call this place Desert Rock. That is a name that was given to this project. This place is known to us, the Navajo people, by a different name. It is between Chaco Rio and Ram Springs – both sacred sites to us.”
After walking for two hours in the desert, witnessing the beauty of the scrub brush and the colors of the rocks that surrounded us – all that sandstone and rich ochre – the corral of barbed wire fencing that designated “ownership” was stark and grossly missplaced in the serenity of this scene.
Don Lindley, a local Park Ranger and opponent of the project told us that the EPA had once designated this area to have the cleanest air in the United States. If this coal burning plant is allowed to be built, it's emissions would be the equivalent of 12.5 million cars firing away on a daily basis.
Clifford, a botanist and geologist spent a good deal of time teaching us about the plant life of the region – pointing out wild carrots, sages and medicinal plants such as ephedra. He also talked about how many new species he comes across on his walks through the desert – some he has been able to officially classify with names of his relatives; and he will begin classifying them using Navajo names in the future.
Eloise then had us look towards the Northern hills, “see where those wild horses are?” we all turned around, “do you see those ruins there? Those are old homes of our ancestors there along the hill. And we know that our ancestors are buried up in that area as well. The people who are working with Sithe Global are trying to tell us that there isn't anyone buried there, but we know that's not true, we know they are just telling those lies so they can build their project.”
Marek, from Poland, got up to say a few words as well. He told us that back home he lives on the top floor of his apartment building, and described his view to us:
“To the North, I see a strip mine, to the West I see the old Russian uranium mines, to the East I see a small river and it is small because there is a big dam blocking the water from coming in. And, I don't want to see these things when I am looking out of my windows. But to the South, I can see a place we call Table Mountain – it is the smallest National Park in Poland. It is a sacred place to me, and I go walking there often. And I want to see places like that. When the Sacred Run came to Poland in 1990 I learned about these places in the United States. When I heard about the Longest Walk Two, I was figuring if I should go; and then I saw that we would be coming to see the Desert Rock site and I knew I wanted to be here then.”
We settled in to our circle then while Dennis told us the following story:
“You know, things will happen for a reason in your lifetime. Coming here is a moment in history that you are going to remember for all time. When I was a young man, and in the military, I was in Tokyo holding a rifle and standing on one side of a fence, very much like the one we are standing in front of today – but I was on the other side. The army had a military installation that we were guarding. We were on one side – and on the other side were protesters. Japanese people who did not want us there, because our runways and roads were destroying their farmland.
This is when I first heard the words namu myoho renge kyo from the chanting of the monks. We were standing with guns and I didn't know how these people were going to win without fighting. At the time, I had wanted a military career, I had gone to military boarding school and had taken that path. But I was beginning to change as I was watching what was unfolding. And in the end...they did win without weapons, without fighting...and in time, when I went back to that place – there were healthy crops growing all around, and weeds and grasses were growing through the cracks of those runways and roads.
I believe Eloise will win this fight. That the Brown family will win this fight. I don't know what will happen in the future, but I feel that us being here will help her to go another day – help her to sleep at night. And now we know what we have to do. Her struggle is now our struggle. You are a prayer. You are a feather. You are Mother Earth. “
And with that he nodded to Mikano Shonin and Jun Anju-san and we gathered in back of them and faced this brutal chain-link fence and some chanted the prayer namu myoho renge kyo; and others prayed in their own way alongside of us that this place cease being desecrated. And the desert wind carried our prayers into the clear blue sky.