reprinted with permission from
Poison Fire, Sacred Earth,
TESTIMONIES, LECTURES, CONCLUSIONS,
THE WORLD URANIUM HEARING, SALZBURG 1992
With the environmental groups that are concerned for animals, for plantlife, for the waters, at times I find it hard to bring these people together, to look at things as we, the indigenous people do. Our environment, we are a part of, for we are the children of our Mother Earth. The groups that I speak to, I tell them, if the fishes can come together, if the four-leggeds can come together, if our feathered relatives come together, why couldn't the two-legged people come together and work together? I feel that it's time now that we look at things around us, as we, the indigenous people, look at the earth, the air, the waters, the universe. We must protect these things. . . .
I want to say the people that are here to spread the word to those who are not here, tell them what we have said here.
Rex Tilousi, Havasupai Nation, Grand Canyon, USA. Longterm member of the Havasupai Tribal Council, activist against Canyon Uranium Mine.
Greetings from the Havasupai! Havasupai means "People of the Bluegreen Waters". We are happy to be here to bring out what we have been going through for the past 500 years. Many of you have been to the Grand Canyon and have seen that beauty. We are speaking for these things this afternoon. We, the Havasupai, believe that we lived within the Mother Earth. The place of emergence where we came out to the surface of our Mother Earth is within the Grand Canyon Area. We emerged from the Grand Canyon, from within the earth. We migrated up to the rims of our Canyon home. There we lived in peace, in harmony with plantlife and wildlife, our Mother Earth, the waters, the air, the sun, the moon. These we regard as our relatives. We lived within the Grand Canyon area with the waters, the springs that we have in our Canyon home. We lived in the Canyon in the summer, we migrated up to the plateau areas in winter. This is how we lived within the aboriginal lands we once roamed, where we once prayed, the mountains, the beauties that we regard as very sacred.
There we lived until the coming of the white man. When he came, he divided things. He put fences up, he put borders up, saying, "this is my land, you are not to trespass!" We lived there until the Park Service, the Forest Service came into our lands. With the Park Service taking over the Grand Canyon, they pushed the Havasupai people aside. So now we live in a side canyon where we believe we are a part of. The two pillars you see is the guardians of the people. They watch over the people, the waters, the land, the plantlife, the wildlife. This is where we live. The Park Service, the Forest Service, we thought they were there to protect the areas. And now we come to find that these are the people that are permitting other people to come and destroy the lands, the trees, the waters.
When we were first approached by a company that was testing up on the rims, up our Canyon home, they had discovered what they call "Brecchia Pipes". These Brecchia Pipes contain the ore, the uranium that over the years had collected through the waters, through the rocks. We were told in 1984 that this was happening to the rim of our Canyon home. When we came up to the plateau areas to see what happened, we found the mining company had already set up the equipment, the mine shaft that was supposed to be sunk into the Mother Earth. The mountain, the Red Butte, we regard this as a very sacred butte where our medicine people, our religious people prayed to these things for strength, for help to carry the people forward into the future. Now we find that on both sides of our Canyon home, the North and the South rims have already been claimed by 90,000 areas where they have discovered uranium.
When in 1975 the Grand Canyon Enlargement Act was passed, we were told that we can come up to the rims, gather where my people had gathered and lived in the past. Now when we come up to our sacred area we find fences put up. Signs are put up, reading "No trespassing!" When we hear and see this, we are hurt. For we, the Havasupai people, are the guardians of the Grand Canyon. The mining company, Energy Fuels Nuclear, when they heard about our protest, they approached us and offered us money and we told them: "No, we don't want your money. Money is not worth the future, the destruction, the contamination of our home, the waters, the air, the earth, plantlife, wildlife. When these things are contaminated, money will never cover the destruction which is going to happen if we let these mining companies come in and desecrate the areas we regard as very sacred."
When we found out about this, we needed help, we needed support. We only number 500 people that live within the Canyon. If we were the only ones that were fighting against a very powerful nation, the USA, we'll never ever be heard. Therefore, we are here to ask for support from you people. From the children of our Mother Earth. We have gone to courts. The Religious Freedom Act we based our fight on, we come to find that the courts we have been going through, the District Court, the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court, they did not want to listen to what we had to say. Now, the mining company has permission from the courts to go ahead and sink the shaft into the abdomen of our Mother Earth.
With the environmental groups that are concerned for animals, for plantlife, for the waters, at times I find it hard to bring these people together, to look at things as we, the indigenous people do. Our environment, we are a part of, for we are the children of our Mother Earth. The groups that I speak to, I tell them, if the fishes can come together, if the four-leggeds can come together, if our feathered relatives come together, why couldn't the two-legged people come together and work together? I feel that it's time now that we look at things around us, as we, the indigenous people, look at the earth, the air, the waters, the universe. We must protect these things.
I also speak for the people. Will they be able to drink clean water, breathe clean air, swim in clean waters, the Havasu Creek, the turquoise waters? If we let these things happen, the waters will be contaminated through the ground waters. The disturbings within our Mother Earth, we must not let this happen. If we permit this one mine to do the destruction, then the 90,000 claims will also go. Therefore, I ask for support to protect our Mother Earth, the children of our Mother Earth, the plantlife, the wildlife, the air, the waters. We must work together as we, the indigenous people, are trying to get the message to the people that are destroying these things.
I would like to see in the future our grandchildren, their grandchildren walk in the beauty the Great Spirit has meant for us to walk. Therefore, to end my speech, I ask for your help, for your support. If further information is needed, we have some out in the hall. After this conference, we will be touring Europe, the towns that we believe are depending on nuclear power in the future. The Grand Canyon uranium is, I understand, going to be bought by these countries here. So I will be speaking to the people here in Europe for the next following week. I want to say the people that are here to spread the word to those who are not here, tell them what we have said here.
I thank you for listening.
back to Poison Fire | radiation | rat haus | Index | Search