Trail ride for renewable energy begins today

By Kathy Helms, Diné Bureau, Gallup Independent, 07/13/2007

BURNHAM In 2005, Delegate Leonard Chee and his band of elders protesting the use of C-aquifer water the Black Mesa Project, along with protesters from Black Mesa, and did not receive the warmest of welcomes when they joined with other delegates on the annual Navajo Nation Council horse ride.

As a matter of fact, Chee and protesters from Leupp and Black Mesa, including grandmas who walked the entire way in temperatures well over 100 degrees, eventually branched off from the other riders they met in the vicinity of Dilkon, so as not to mix political agendas.

Eventually, however, all riders converged on Defiance Plateau, giving the appearance of one big happy family as they rode the final downhill stretch into Window Rock.

The annual Council ride, which honors past, present and future leaders, is designed for delegates to meet first-hand and hear the concerns of people living along the various routes they take to Window Rock.

But like Chee and his group which preceded them, Dooda' Desert Rock Campaign members might be coolly received by Navajo Nation Council riders who support the 1,500 megawatt coal-fired plant as they journey their separate ways this week on horseback to Window Rock.

However, considering the opposition they have received thus far in their battle against the Sithe Global Power/Din Power Authority project, that's no big deterrent as they head out this morning to raise public awareness for renewable energy.

Supporters of the Dooda' Desert Rock Campaign (NO Desert Rock Energy Project) left the Dooda' campsite in Burnham around 5 a.m. today to participate in a four-day trail ride to the Navajo Nation Council Chambers in Window Rock.

This ride represents one direction in a larger, four-direction ride involving organizations, individuals, and communities from Flagstaff to Albuquerque and Blue Gap to Burnham, according to Elouise Brown, president of Dooda' Desert Rock.

"The purpose of the ride is to raise the public's awareness of the negative effects of fossil fuel energy development and the urgent need for investment in renewable energy alternatives, such as solar and wind power, on the Navajo Nation," Brown said.

Dooda' Desert Rock riders coming from the north will be drawing attention to the proposed Desert Rock Energy Project, slated for San Juan County, N.M., and their community-based campaign to stop it.

"Our ride will raise awareness about this issue along the way, as well as when we join other riders in Window Rock," Brown said. "We are doing this trail ride to urge Navajo Nation leaders to listen to us and take our message back to their communities," Brown said.

"We hope that Council delegates will oppose the Desert Rock Project and encourage all chapter houses to pass resolutions opposing this proposed power plant," she said.

The riders also will be distributing fliers announcing upcoming dates of public hearings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and encouraging the public to attend and submit comments to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The broader "Go Renewable Energy" Ride, with riders coming from the four directions, will culminate in a press conference at 8 a.m. Monday at the Navajo Nation Council Chambers for the opening of the Council's Summer Session.

The public and media are invited to join the Dooda' Desert Rock riders at any point along the way.

The first in a series of public meeting on the Desert Rock EIS begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Farmington Civic Center. Meetings are set July 18 in Cortez and Durango, July 19 in Albuquerque, July 20 in Santa Fe, July 23 in Shiprock and Nenahnezad, and July 24 in Burnham and Sanostee.





Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.