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Salina Begay

one of the Matriarchs leading the movement out in Black Mesa, Navajo Nation | Black Mesa Resistance Camp
Pronouns: she/her

Salina Begay's parents are one of the original resisters at Black Mesa, refusing to relocate from their ancestral homeland after the 1974 Hopi/Navajo land divisions, when she was young she joined the resistance. She lives a traditional life, caring for her sheep and using their wool to make Navajo rugs. Salina and her family's commitment to remaining on their homeland has helped defend it from the expansion of the Peabody coal mine. Living next to the old coal-fired powerplant and the continuous harassment from rangers who attempt to steal their sheep, she has faced many challenges but continues to resist.

Presentations from Facing Race 2022

Black Mesa Resistance Camp: Dzili' Jin Lifeway

In the late 1800s, the settler government redrew a reservation line, creating an overlap between the Hopi and Navajo Nations. Together, the tribes were stewards of the land and its minerals for nearly a century. In the mid-70s, seeing an opportunity to extract profit through resource extraction, lines were redrawn separating Hopi and Navajo Nations and forcing thousands of people to be displaced. Those who moved, separated from their traditional land and life, many fell into poverty, a quarter of the elders died - away from their families, their lands, their way of life.

The land was destroyed amid decades of aquifer draining (water that was rerouted to Phoenix), and the pollution that resulted from the toxic mining of the coal and uranium still remains. It was not only through legislative robbery that these people have been subjected to state violence, but also from rangers who abuse elders and impound their livestock, which is their livelihood.

Hear from Indigenous land defenders who refused to relocate, continue to resist, and live traditionally, and learn how we can be in solidarity with these communities and help them get their land back.

Speakers: Salina Begay, John Benally