This case will be one of a few examined at a workshop on

Industrial HotSpots on the Day of Women,

during UN-CSD,  April 28, 1998, United Nations, New York

The Case of the People of Sovereign Dineh Nation

USA                                          3,000                                            3,000 sq. miles

Sovereign Dineh Nation

What was your involvement in the industrial hot spot?

Sovereign Dineh Nation (SDN) has been accredited as an NGO through Women,s Environment Development Organization (WEDO) and the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist ChurchMarsha Monestersky, is the SDN Liaison to the United Nations, Consultant to Sovereign Dineh Nation and the focal person for the New York effort.  She is active conducting outreach to gain support and visibility for the traditional Dineh (Navajo) people. Since her arrival in New York, she has been elected to serve as Co-Chair of the NGO Human Rights and Poverty Eradication Caucus at the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and serves as a member of the Organizing Committee of the International Peoples Tribunal on Human Rights and the Environment, at which the Dineh case was one of twelve cases presented in June 1997.

What were your strategies to mobilize women to respond to the crisis and

influence the decision-making process?

Traditional Dineh matriarchs and spokespeople are reaching out to the international community in their struggle for survival and for the protection of the earth. Their lives, their culture, and their human rights are being sacrificed in order to provide short-term profits for a non-sustainable industry that also threatens the regional and global environment.

In April 1997, when all efforts to obtain justice in the US judicial system failed, and in order to get the relocation laws repealed, they filed a formal request for the United Nations Commission on Human Rights to conduct an investigation of human rights violations against them by the US government.  Several visits to New York by Dineh helped create an Inter-faith coalition of faith-based Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs).  When a visit by a UN Special Rapporteur was confirmed, a delegation of NGOs traveled to Black Mesa to witness the historic meeting between the traditional Dineh and Hopi people and Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, the Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.  Mr. Amor traveled to Black Mesa in early February, 1998 to investigate charges of human rights violations by the US government.  This is the first time the US is being formally investigated by the United Nations for violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. It is the hope of the Dineh people that the UN will cite the US for violations of International Human Rights law.

Dineh matriarchs have been active, traveling to Washington, DC, New York, California and Geneva, Switzerland.  They have submitted hundreds of testimonies to the US Congress but still they are denied access to water, the right to fix their homes, and protection of their land and livelihood.  Over 100 Citizens Complaints have been submitted to the US Department of the Interior,s Office of Surface Mining.  This has resulted in federal regulatory inspections that were conducted, resulting in numerous violations cited against Peabody Coal Company.  Solar operated seismograph machines are now visible next to some traditional hogans.  Nighttime blasting and some other practices have ceased.  The Black Mesa issue is the first case of environmental justice brought by Native people to the executive branch of the US government since President Clinton signed Executive Order 12898 on Environmental Justice, February, 1994.