Friday, February 6, 2009
Jihan Gearon, Indigenous Environmental Network, 218-760-1370
Kelvin Long, Black Mesa Water Coalition, 928-600-4515
Anna Rondon, Native Workplace, 505-870-2667
Washington, DC – Native American leaders in the emerging green economy traveled to our Nation’s capitol to lobby representatives, network, and work together to demand good and green jobs, careers, and communities for Indian Country. Representatives from the Navajo, Acoma, Oglala Sioux, Ojibwe, Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations participated in the Good Jobs Green Jobs National Conference in Washington DC this week.
“We are here to ensure that Indigenous communities and Nations will
be a part of the emerging green economy,” says Jihan Gearon, Native Energy
Organizer for the Indigenous Environmental Network and member of the Navajo
Nation. “More so than mere participation and tokenization, we are here
to ensure that in this emerging economy, our communities truly benefit and
lead. There are numerous opportunities in Indian Country to do so.”
The Navajo Green Economy Plan is one such example. The Plan would generate hundreds of green jobs across the Navajo Nation and support local, community led, owned and operated initiatives such as small and large scale renewable energy development, green manufacturing textile mills, weatherization projects, weavers coops, traditional and organic agricultural markets, and green jobs training programs.
“With millions of federal dollars ready to be distributed across the country to support green jobs, we are prepared to support our local community and in doing so lead the Nation in creating sustainable and just societies, says Kelvin Long, member of the Navajo Green Economy Coalition and the Navajo Nation.
Native American lands, as well as Indigenous territories worldwide, have been historically and systematically targeted for fossil fuel – coal, oil and gas – development, which has resulted in the contamination and depletion of water, land and community health. Solutions to energy independence and climate change in the U.S., such as nuclear power and clean coal, pose the threat of exacerbating these negative affects.
“Green jobs must not include jobs for industries that will drag out the use of dirty and unsustainable energy,” says Petuuche Gilbert of Acoma pueblo in New Mexico, a community affected by uranium mining. “In this new economy, we must break the cycle of being marginalized people and forced to choose between economic development and preservation of our culture and lands. We are against renewed uranium mining. Nuclear is not green.”
Tribal lands have an estimated 535 Billion kWh/year of wind power generation potential, about 14% of U.S. annual generation. Tribal lands also hold an estimated 17,000 Billion kWh/year of solar electricity generation potential – 4.5 times total U.S. annual generation. As Winona LaDuke, Executive Director of Honor the Earth and member of the Ojibwe Nation points out, “The reality is that the most efficient, green economy will need the vast wind and solar resources that lie on Native American lands. And we are prepared to lead.”