JANUARY 13, 2022
Newe’neen So’ko’pa Camp
Winnemucca Indian Colony
BREAKING: Man Threatens Elders at Winnemucca Community Resistance Camp
Note: This is a breaking story that is unfolding now. Approved camp media available through camp IG account: @neweneensokopa. Media requests: AutonomousABQ@protonmail.com
Conflict has been escalating throughout this small Indigenous community where elder’s homes have been under threat of being bulldozed by private contract workers hired by self-appointed “chairwoman” Judy Rojo who resides out of state and is not recognized by residents of the colony
A solidarity occupation camp was established in early November, 2021 when a call for help was posted to social media by resident elders. Done as a last ditch effort to protect their homes from demolition as Rojo and her Goons attempted illegal forced evictions. 4 homes in the community were bulldozed with little to no notice before the construction crews were stopped with the help of Indigenous land defenders who heard the elders pleas and immediately responded to help. This was later backed up by a temporary court order preventing Rojo and her crew from entering the colony, which has since been lifted leaving the community vulnerable once again.
Ongoing assistance is requested, please see the action notes at the bottom of this article.
Many outsiders rushed to the community to offer support and most have been respectful people with genuine hearts. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been our experience with the American Indian Movement Northern NV chapter (AIMNNV) and we will take a moment to share about this now.
In early December 2021 AIMNNV began making visits to the colony. During their visits there was ongoing conflict due to disrespectful, misogynistic, and abusive behaviors they displayed. They badgered elders instead of asking how they can help and honoring choices they have made. They have been disrespectful to the women and femmes and abusive to our guests, allies, and supporters. They have shown ignorance and violence towards our queer, two-spririt, non-binary, and trans relatives. They have taken from donations made to the community and attempted to pad the pockets of their friends and associates. They have promoted our struggles for their own benefit on social media. They have attempted to speak for us without being invited to do so, we can speak for ourselves.They have worked to silence our people and have attempted to recruit others to assist in this violence by creating false narratives.
December 23rd, 2021 an AIM flag that was flying over the sacred fire was cut down by a Shoshone-Paiute organizer. As she has been involved in assisting camp work since early November 2021, she had been made aware that AIM had been violating camp agreements and denying others the right to speak, saying they weren’t Native, or weren’t Shoshone, or weren’t from the colony – all of these were excuses used to dismiss valid concerns. As a Newe-Numa person she recognized her responsibility to speak up where others had been silenced. After many other attempts had been made to hold open and honest dialogue in a safe space and with the guidance of elders and input from all residents and guests of the community were denied or not conducted in good faith – she took it upon herself to cut the AIM flag down and insist that our Newe identities not be exploited and used to deny others their right to speak up for themselves. She did not anticipate the response she got; though she did return the flag undamaged with the simple request for said meeting – a group of hostile adult men surrounded her, threatened her safety, and forced her to leave the area.
Things quickly went downhill from there, as these individuals became more brazen with their disrespect and pushed to seize control until there were no longer any protocols being respected. Things came to a head on January 7th, 2022 when the resident elders took back their community and reasserted their demand that AIM Northern NV, and affiliated individuals causing harm and dissension, leave and not return.
This ask has not been respected.
Though they did initially leave, individuals have returned almost daily and have attempted to recruit others to do so, reaching out to other orgs presenting things to be the opposite of what they actually are. Fortunately there’s many solid comrades out there who are disciplined enough to reach out and validate info first. Unfortunately though, there’s many others who have fallen prey when asked to do things without being given honest and necessary info so they may make informed decisions for themselves.
On January 10th, 2022 an unknown individual arrived at the colony and went to the home of an elder demanding that camp be cleared and full control be handed over to AIMNNV within two hours time. He showed that he was armed and made culturally specific threats of violence referencing the Massacre at Wounded Knee of 1880. He claimed to be acting on behalf of a former camp visitor who is no longer welcome in the community. Then he stated that he was acting on orders from higher ups within the org (AIMGGC), though did not offer any proof of that. Two older land defenders took the time to sit with this young man and treat him with care. After he was provided evidence, he chose to leave the colony without carrying out the violence he had threatened to commit.
This is the reason we can no longer be silent. We must be honest with each other if we want this violence to stop.
The truth is, there are unacceptable acts of aggression being carried out by forces from outside of our community. AIM members and their affiliates have turned on their code to protect the people by threatening Indigenous elders with colonial violence. Others have used their Indigeneity to present themselves as if they speak for camp, they do not. Former camp members have stolen what they could and refused to relinquish their access to camp accounts, which they’ve used to intercept deliveries and divert donation funds. All of this is what the BIA and mining companies want, yes; but we must understand that these same forms of colonial violence can be co-opted by our own relatives, other Native people, and weaponized against us to perpetrate the same harms. This is what is being done and it must stop.
We wish to make it clear: No one can destroy our sacred bond to the earth here, not agitators within AIM, nor government officials, nor construction crews and hired goons. We pray for a peaceful resolution and call on the Grand Governing Council of AIM to hold their membership immediately accountable. Regardless, let it be known that we will continue standing our ground and defending our homes and we will continue supporting, protecting, and appreciating the land defenders who have come to stand with us. We ask that any experienced frontliners who wish to come, do so in a good way. We invite you and will welcome you here but ask that you follow camp agreements.
This is all we will be disclosing at this time, as we hold respect for our sister communities and continue to stand in solidarity with all other camps and frontlines. From Winnemucca to Wet’suwet’en, we resist together. Thank you.
TAKE ACTION NOW!
A quick & dirty review of the movie Oppenheimer
We watched this movie after arguing with social media pro-nuke apologists who accused us of being ill-informed as not having viewed Christopher Nolan’s biopic, so excuse the mess… (and if you haven’t already, read our initial post here for the context).
Oppenheimer is a glorification of the “complicated genius” and ambitions of white men making terrible decisions that imperil the world.
Many have remarked that the film is not a glorification, yet Christopher Nolan himself says, “Like it or not, J Robert Oppenheimer is the most important person who ever lived.”
Some of you may have even had a burst of laughter during the scene where Truman asked Oppenheimer what he thought the fate of Los Alamos should be and “Oppie” retorted, “Give the land back to the Indians.” But alas, the poisoned scarred landscape today is host to a 10-day “Oppenheimer Festival.” To underscore the disconnect of legacies, a small commemoration near the Churchrock spill site was also held on the anniversary of the Trinity detonation, a few hundred miles away. Yes, what glorification?
The movie is basically a Western à la John Wayne. It very well could have been called, “The Trial of the Sheriff of Los Alamos.”
Oppenheimer rides his horse with a black hat on and pulls a poster down from a fence post. He then strides into a debate on the “Impact of the gadget on civilization.” To respond to the question of how scientists can justify using the Atom Bomb on human beings, Oppenheimer speaks, “We’re theorists yes, we imagine a future and our imaginings horrify us. They won’t fear it until they understand it and they won’t understand it until they’ve used it. When the world learns the terrible secret of Los Alamos our work here will ensure a peace mankind has never seen. A peace based on international cooperation.”
Nolan establishes the only narrative that matters is his attempt at historical redemption, he paints Oppenheimer as a victim. While perhaps not as depoliticized as Nolan alluded to in interviews (as the politics of American loyalty and the Red Scare drive the drama), the consequences of nuclear weapons and energy is barely considered (arguably barely at all considering the issue). This is a political omission of the most insidious sort and the film is even worse for it.
The movie cares more about constructing and clearing Oppenheimer as a victim of McCarthyism than the impacts of the atomic bomb and its deadly legacy of nuclear colonialism. As it’s stated, there’s a “Price to be paid for genius.” Everything else is dramatic notation. Nolan gives Oppenheimer the public hearing he feels like he was denied to ultimately prove he was an American patriot. In the end, the question “Would the world forgive you if you let them crucify you?” matters above all other concerns. The movie poses the argument as “science versus militarism” while the world and Indigenous Peoples continue to suffer the permanent consequences of nuclear weapons and energy in silence. A deadly silence more deafening than Nolan’s cinematic portrayal of the Trinity test. But hey, there’s even a minute of cheering after the test.
Nolan has us listening to the radio while two cities are destroyed and hundreds of thousands of lives are taken. Nolan keeps the camera on his lead actor’s face while the horrors of his bomb are shown on slides. Oppenheimer simply looks away. What more about this film do we need to know?
15,000 abandoned uranium mines poisoning our bodies, lands, and water. 1,000 bombs detonated on Western Shoshone lands… the list goes on (we only stop here because we’ve stated much more in our original post). All omitted and sentenced to suffer in catastrophic silence. Films like Oppenheimer are only possible because people keep looking away from the deadly reality of nuclear weapons and energy.
Architect of Annihilation: Oppenheimer’s Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Terror
Read our quick and dirty review of the movie here.
Klee Benally, Indigenous Action/Haul No!
Contributions by Leona Morgan, Diné No Nukes/Haul No!
The genocidal colonial terror of nuclear energy and weapons is not entertainment.
To glorify such deadly science and technology as a dramatic character study, is to spit in the face of hundreds of thousands of corpses and survivors scattered throughout the history of the so-called Atomic age.
Think of it this way, for every minute that passes during the film’s 3-hour run time, more than 1,100 citizens in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki died due to Oppenheimer’s weapon of mass destruction. This doesn’t account for those downwind of nuclear tests who were exposed to radioactive fallout (some are protesting screenings), it doesn’t account for those poisoned by uranium mines, it doesn’t account for those killed during nuclear power plant melt-downs, it doesn’t account for those in the Marshall Islands who are forever poisoned.
For every second you sit in the air conditioned theater with a warm buttery popcorn bucket in your lap, 18 people dead in the blink of an eye. Thanks to Oppenheimer.
Though you’ll certainly learn enough about J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” thanks to director Christopher Nolan’s 70mm IMAX odyssey, let’s be clear about his deadly legacy and the overall military and scientific industrial complex behind it.
After the successful detonation of the very first atomic bomb, Oppenheimer infamously quoted the Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita, “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” Barely a month later, the “U.S” dropped two atomic bombs devastating the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and more than 200,000 people were killed. Some of the shadows of those perished were burned into the streets. One survivor, Sachiko Matsuo, relayed their thoughts as they tried to make sense of what was happening when Nagasaki was struck, “I could see nothing below. My grandmother started to cry, ‘Everybody is dead. This is the end of the world.” A devastation that Nolan intentionally leaves out because, according to the director, the film is not told from the perspectives of those who were bombed, but by those who were responsible for it. Nolan casually explains, “[Oppenheimer] learned about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the radio, the same as the rest of the world.”
Months after the atomic detonation at the “Trinity” site in occupied Tewa lands of New Mexico, Oppenheimer resigned. He walked away expressing the conflict of having, “blood on his hands,” (though reportedly he later said the bombings were not “on his conscience”) while leaving a legacy of nuclear devastation and radioactive pollution permanently poisoning lands, waters, and bodies to this day.
U.S. military and political machinery cannibalized the scientist and turned him into a villain of their imperialist cold-war anxiety. They reminded him and the other scientists behind the Manhattan Project, that they and their interests were always in control.
Oppenheimer never was a hero, he was an architect of annihilation.
The race to develop the first atomic bomb (after Nazis had split the atom) never could be a strategy of peaceful deterrence, it was a strategy of domination and annihilation.
Nazi Germany was committing genocide against Jewish people while the U.S. sat on the political sidelines. It wasn’t until they were directly threatened that the U.S. intervened. Though Nazi Germany was defeated on May 8th, 1945, the U.S. dropped two separate atomic bombs on the non-military targets of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945.
To underscore Oppenheimer’s complicity, he suppressed a petition by 70 Manhattan Project scientists urging President Truman not to drop the bombs on moral grounds. The scientists also argued that since the war was nearing its end, Japan should be given the opportunity to surrender.
Today there are approximately 12,500 nuclear warheads in nine countries with almost 90 percent of them held by the U.S. and Russia. It is estimated that 100 nuclear weapons is an “adequate… deterrence” threshold for the “mutually assured destruction” of the world.
Oppenheimer built the gun that is still held to the head of everyone who lives on this Earth today. Throughout the decades after the development of “The Bomb,” millions throughout the world have rallied for nuclear disarmament, yet politicians have never taken their fingers off the trigger.
The Deadly Legacy of Nuclear Colonialism
Nuclear weapons production and energy would not be possible without uranium.
Global uranium mining boomed during and after World War II and continues to threaten communities throughout the world.
Today, more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines are located within the so-called U.S., mostly in and around Indigenous communities, permanently poisoning sacred lands and waters with little to no political action being taken to clean up their deadly toxic legacy.
Indigenous communities have long been at the front lines of the struggle to stop the deadly legacy of the nuclear industry. Nuclear colonialism has resulted in radioactive pollution that has poisoned drinking water systems of entire communities like Red Shirt Village in South Dakota and Sanders in Arizona. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has closed more than 22 wells on the Navajo Nation where there are more than 523 abandoned uranium mines. In Ludlow, South Dakota an abandoned uranium mine sits within feet of an elementary school, poisoning the ground where children continue to play to this day.
Nuclear colonialism has ravaged our communities and left a deadly legacy of cancers, birth defects, and other serious health consequences, it is the slow genocide of Indigenous Peoples.
From 1944 to 1986 some 30 million tons of uranium ore were extracted from mines on Diné lands. Diné workers were told little of the potential health risks with many not given any protective gear. As demand for uranium decreased the mines closed, leaving over a thousand contaminated sites. To this day none have been completely cleaned up.
On July 16, 1979, just 34 years after Oppenheimer oversaw the July 16, 1945 Trinity test, the single largest accidental release of radioactivity occurred on Diné Bikéyah (The Navajo Nation) at the Church Rock uranium mill. More than 1,100 tons of solid radioactive mill waste and 94 million gallons of radioactive tailings poured into the Puerco River when an earthen dam broke. Today, water in the downstream community of Sanders, Arizona is poisoned with radioactive contamination from the spill.
Although uranium mining is now banned on the reservation due to advocacy from Diné anti-nuclear organizers, Navajo politicians have sought to allow new mining in areas already contaminated by the industry’s toxic legacy. It is estimated that 25% of all the recoverable uranium remaining in the country is located on Diné Bikéyah.
Though there has never been a comprehensive human health study on the impacts of uranium mining in the area, a focused study has detected uranium in the urine of babies born to Diné women exposed to uranium.
Western Shoshone lands in so-called Nevada, which have never been ceded to the “U.S.” government, have long been under attack by the military and nuclear industries.
Between 1951 and 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear bombs have been detonated above and below the surface at an area called the Nevada Test Site on Western Shoshone lands which make it one of the most bombed nations on earth. Communities in areas around the test site faced severe exposure to radioactive fallout, which caused cancers, leukemia & other illnesses. Those who have suffered this radioactive pollution are collectively known as “Downwinders.”
Western Shoshone spiritual practitioner Corbin Harney, who passed on in 2007, helped initiate a grassroots effort to shutdown the test site and abolish nuclear weapons. He once said, “We’re not helping Mother Earth at all. The roots, the berries, the animals, are not here anymore, nothing’s here. It’s sad. We’re selling the air, the water, we’re already selling each other. Somewhere it’s going to come to an end.”
Between 1945 and 1958, sixty-seven atomic bombs were detonated in tests conducted in Ṃajeḷ (the Marshall Islands). Some Indigenous people of the islands have all together stopped reproducing due to the severity of cancer and birth defects they have faced due to radioactive pollution.
In 1987 the “U.S.” congress initiated a controversial project to transport and store almost all of the U.S.’s toxic waste at Yucca Mountain located about 100 miles northwest of so-called Las Vegas, Nevada. Yucca Mountain has been held holy to the Paiute and Western Shoshone Nations since time immemorial. In January 2010 the Obama administration approved a $54 billion dollar taxpayer loan in a guarantee program for new nuclear reactor construction, three times what Bush previously promised in 2005.
There are currently 93 operating nuclear reactors in the so-called U.S. that supply 20% of the country’s electricity. There are nearly 90,000 tons of highly radioactive spent nuclear waste stored in concrete dams at nuclear power plants throughout the country with the waste increasing at a rate of 2,000 tons per year.
From the 1979 disasters of Three Mile Island and Churchrock to the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant melted down, the nuclear industry has been wrought with mass catastrophes with permanent global consequences.
In 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant catastrophically failed and began melting down after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. It’s been reported that the Fukushima plant has been leaking approximately 300 tons of radioactive water into the ocean every day. Today, the Japanese government is open about its plans to release remaining radioactive waters into the Pacific.
“Depleted Uranium” weapons deployed by the U.S. in imperialist wars (particularly Iraq and Afghanistan) have also poisoned eco-systems, including at proving grounds and firing ranges in Arizona, Maryland, Indiana and Vieques, Puerto Rico. Depleted uranium is a by-product of uranium enrichment process when it’s used for nuclear reactor fuel and in the making of nuclear weapons.
Nuclear energy production is now claimed as a “green solution” to the climate crisis, but nothing could be further from the truth of this deadly lie.
In April 2022, the Biden administration announced a $6 billion government bailout to “rescue” nuclear power plants at risk of closing. A colonial government representative stated, “U.S. nuclear power plants contribute more than half of our carbon-free electricity, and President Biden is committed to keeping these plants active to reach our clean energy goals.” They, along with Climate Justice activists cite nuclear energy as necessary to combat global warming, all while ignoring the devastating permanent impacts Indigenous Peoples have faced.
Due to this “greenwashing” of nuclear energy, we face a push for nuclear hydrogen, small modular nuclear reactors, and High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) driving a renewed threat of new uranium mining, transportation, & processing.
Though the Obama administration placed a moratorium on thousands of uranium mine leases around the Grand Canyon in 2012, pre-existing uranium claims were allowed. Environmental groups and Indigenous Nations are currently attempting to make the moratorium permanent and push for a new national monument, yet these will do little to nothing for the handful of pre-existing uranium mines that have been allowed to move forward.
Despite these actions, underground blasting & above ground work has begun at Pinyon Plain/Canyon Mine, just miles from the Grand Canyon. Once Energy Fuels, the company operating the mine, starts hauling out radioactive ore, they plan to transport 30 tons per day through Northern Arizona to the company’s processing mill in White Mesa, 300 miles away.
The White Mesa Mill is the only conventional uranium mill licensed to operate in the U.S. The mill was built on sacred ancestral lands of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe near Blanding, Utah. Energy Fuels disposes radioactive and toxic waste tailings in “impoundments” that take up about 275 acres next to the mill. Since there are limited radioactive waste facilities, White Mesa Mill has become an ad hoc dump for the world’s nuclear wastes that have no final repository.
In so-called New Mexico, a state addicted to nuclear monies for both nuclear weapons and energy facilities, there are two national nuclear labs and two national waste facilities. Along with legacy uranium mines and mills, there was Project Gasbuggy (an underground detonation), a “Broken Arrow” accident near Albuquerque, and countless tons of radioactive waste buried in unlined pits, Pueblo kivas, and watersheds. Currently, there are planned expansions and modifications at Los Alamos National Labs, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, and Urenco uranium enrichment facility. Most recently, the state has been threatened by two newly licensed consolidated interim storage facilities for “spent fuel” from nuclear power plants in New Mexico and Texas. The federal government continues to push nuclear projects with financial incentives.
Nuclear proliferation continues as the U.S. allows uranium miners and others who are eligible for the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to die. Many continue to suffer and wait for compensation funds to be allocated or are not eligible due to the limitations of the act.
The devastation of nuclear colonialism, which permanently destroys Indigenous communities throughout the world, is not entertainment. This is the terrifying legacy of nuclear energy and weapons that movies like Oppenheimer and duplicitous climate justice activists advocate.
Indigenous Peoples live, suffer, and continue to resist its consequences every day.
END NUCLEAR COLONIALISM!
Red Water Pond Road
ICWA & Continued Legislation of Indigenous Existence
As many celebrate the defense of ICWA, we also must recognize the colonial violence that has demanded & produced it.
ICWA was passed in 1978 due to the rampant genocidal white christian driven legal practice of taking Indigenous children from their homes and placing them with white christian families. The law was created to resolve a problem colonialism created. The settler colonial state didn’t become interested in “keeping Indigenous children with their Tribes” until it was assured that those children would be passively assimilated into its “civilized” order.
Through laws like ICWA, the State continues to legislate and enforce Indigenous existence.
White families stealing Indigenous children should be a non-issue. That any argument for justification for keeping Indigenous children with their peoples is occurring is part of the larger issue of white supremacy, cis-heteronormativity, and Indigenous genocide.
Before ICWA was enacted in 1978:
– 25%–35% of all Native children were being removed from their homes;
– of these, 85% were placed outside of their families and communities—even when fit and willing relatives were available.
– Today, Native families are 4x more likely to have their children removed and placed in foster care than their White counterparts.
(facts from https://www.nicwa.org/about-icwa)
Before 1492 Indigenous children weren’t stolen by colonizing predators.
While ICWA is celebrated as an affirmation of Indigenous sovereignty, in actuality it affirms congressional power to regulate commerce (The Commerce Clause) with Indigenous Peoples and plenary power over “Indian affairs.” A plenary power or plenary authority is a complete and absolute power to take action on a particular issue, with no limitations.
The legal battle over ICWA erases Indigenous children who are not from federally recognized tribes, border communities, & migrants doesn’t address issues of dis-enrollment. Particularly as ICWA specifically “sets federal requirements that apply to state child custody proceedings involving an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.” ICWA reinforces “Indian” citizenship policies that some Tribal governments have used to exclude mixed race descendants. Regardless of ICWA, child theft still occurs within the foster care system, where Indigenous youth still are most likely to end up.
The discourse around ICWA is also inherently cis-heteronormative as it doesn’t support queer & two-spirit family formations. ICWA defines Indian child as “any unmarried person who is under age eighteen and is either (a) a member of an Indian tribe or (b) is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe…”
What justice can we expect from a colonial system that also maintains anti-Indigenous laws sanctioning desecration of sacred lands and attacks bodily autonomy?
Are our cultures and communities so desperate and broken that we celebrate that colonizers can determine if our children belong with us? The apparent “necessity” of ICWA demonstrates the fallacy of colonial laws and the predatory white supremacist violence that constantly looms outside our homes.
That colonial laws are required to stop white people from outright stealing Indigenous babies is the result of a much deeper systemic problem than laws like ICWA can address.
Many of our families & homes are broken due to colonization, more colonial laws won’t fix that.
What are culturally-rooted non-state based solutions to keeping Indigenous children with our families?
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