Carina Gustafsson, Chapter Director



Statement of Glenna C. Begay
Translated by her daughter Helena Begay

On behalf of her family on Black Mesa, Arizona


Peabody Coal Company’s open pit mine is approaching my homesite, approximately a mile and a half away. There are constant explosions from the mining that has been polluting the air, surface water, vegetation, and soil. With the dragline creating dust of coal in the air, we have health and respiratory problems from it. We breathe the dust that causes diseases to our essential parts of our internal organs, daily. I fear for my family and livestock because of all the chemicals in our environment that gets on our foods that we consume.

The land that has been strip mined is permanently damaged without any restoration to its originality. The beautiful landscape is forever gone. Millions of gallons of fresh water from the N-Aquifer wasted through a slurry line that flushes coal to the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada. The land has dried from lack of underground water while the vegetation the livestock feed on dehydrates and become scarce causing erosion. Water is currently still being wasted through the slurry line and the public car wash, while the water is left on overnight.

Many of our coal mine workers have worked at the Coal Company for many years and some have retired, are now suffering from lung diseases and heart problems. Many have died with health risks and respiratory problems. Some have had heart surgeries and have black lung disease from breathing the coal dust for a number of years.

Throughout the years, numerous amounts of families have been relocated to other areas for the lands to be damaged, without consideration for our lifestyle, traditional values, and our culture. Many homesteads and livelihoods have been desecrated. Our ancestors’ burial sites have been disturbed and destroyed. Anasazi ruins have been destroyed while in the process. Peabody Coal Company has demolished the lives of many from every age group and many more will come if we allow this to continue. Peabody Coal Company has taken from us our land with a one-time payment of $50.00 per acre and destroyed the essence of our traditional values, culture, our past and our future. Not only that, they have contaminated the land with chemical spills and hazardous materials.

Peabody’s reclamation program is to plant grass (winter wheat grass, I suppose), and greasewood. Trees are no longer a part of what used to be the beautiful landscape of Black Mesa. Livestock are not permitted to graze in the fenced areas as the Rangers and Security keep a watchful eye on these areas. Livestock found within these ranges are confiscated for impoundment. These lands, once destroyed and contaminated, no longer belong to the people.

We request that the mine is discontinued, we have suffered long enough and what has been destroyed cannot be replaced. We need to protect our environment, our culture, and our tradition. We ask that Peabody Coal Company have respect for our values and us. What will it take for Peabody to realize there are human beings in the vicinity they have assumed control over, and we are pleading for them to acknowledge our request.

Norman Benally, who lives adjacent to Black Mesa Mine states that the unemployment rate is high and there are no employment available to local residents who are affected by the mining issues. The mine does not benefit the local community and Peabody is operating in an impoverished state. All 700 Native American employees are in labor and supervising positions. Executives and Board Members’ salaries are probably more than labor workers’ salaries combined. Air Quality Monitors are not utilized correctly. They are monitoring coal dust, not smoke from the mines as it should have been. Peabody does not have any shareholders in and around the mining area. Again, where is the respect for other people’s culture. This Coal Mine needs to be stopped, we cannot stress that enough, we have exhausted our strengths to protect our homelands.