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Walking on Sacred Grounds 2

”Walking on Sacred Grounds – a journey in Indian country 2006”

by Carina Gustafsson - photo Jenny Wihlmer


It is always wonderful to reunite with the People and the sacred Lands of Black Mesa, high up on the Colorado Plateu, in the northestern corner of Arizona.

So many feelings run through ones being, when viewing the wondourous landscape;
red sandstone cliffs, the green junipers and the abundant sagebrushes that grows everywhere, despite the ever increasing draught, that has ravaged this area these past 10 years.
It is very dry, everywhere we go, this summer in the year 2006.

cactus wally
Even though the skies are hazy, from the many big forrestfires that rage in California, Arizona and many other places in the southwest, this summer, the colours of the skies and surroundings, still are stronger than any other place ive been to.

The familiar feeling of being taken back to the place in reality, where it is impossible to exist, without respecting all the natural elements, that are the absolute foundation and the very basic condition for life, washes over me, once again.

The vast seas of open spaces, the healing quietness and the sight of the majestic mesatops, the closeness to the skyrealms, has become a sanctuary for the soul, these images and feelings, that I carry with me, everyday, no matter where I find myself upon our Beautiful Mother Earth.

And quiet it is….

For the first time, in more than 30 years, the Black Mesa coal mine stands still. Peabody coal company, had to shut down the mine in the beginning of this year, 2006. The water-pumps that fed the slurryline with the Indigenous Peoples drinking water, from deep underneath Black Mesa, now also stands still.

The Monstrous carbondioxide spewing Mohave Generating station, the recipient of the Black Mesa coal and the endstation of the pristine water from the Navajo Aquifer underneath Black Mesa, has also come to a halt, and now stand still, aswell. 

At this point in time, so many would have wanted to celebrate a long awaited victory. Finally all the sacrifices made, all the hardships endured and this long struggle against the coalmining and forced relocation, has come to see the brighter days, healing for Land and Life and hopes for the future. But there were no victorydances performed on Black Mesa this summer. We just got the feeling that this could be the lull before the storm.

The Elders on the Land, warn that plans are being made, behind closed doors, in the corridors of  artificial power, to open up the coalmine again on Black Mesa. The traditional Peoples in both Nations; the Dineh and Hopi, have always been right, before, so we listen…They are the Wise ones, they are the Indigenous scientists and the caretakers of the Land. Noone knows these lands, better than they do.

It should be evident and obvious, for all, now. The times we find ourselves in, the many signs and prophesised events that the Traditional Hopi and Dineh Elders on Black Mesa, have warned against, over a long period of time, has now come to pass and are manifested in our reality.

And sure enough, it was not long after we came back to Sweden, that we learned about the plans to open up the Black Mesa coal mine again. There is now plans to expand the mining area and also to build a coal washing facillity, using two aquifes and to in this process, forcibly relocate more of the Dineh families on Black Mesa.


A high silent place, where the sky seems so near, and the stars appear to be within reach for us human beings. I always feel that deep reverence, when I find myself on this high desert plateu, realizing just how small I am in this great big design of Life, we call Creation.

This summer of year 2006, water is on most peoples mind here, to a larger extent than usual.

The terrible draught, still lingers on in the southwest, as it has for the past 10 years, now.

Praying for rain and snow, has always been a great part of the Indigenous Peoples ceremonial life, here. Water has never been taken for granted by these Peoples.

The coalmining has severely damaged the delicate ecological balance that has provided the precious water for human beings and animals, on Black Mesa. Water was hauled by hand from the many springs spread throughout the mountainous area, and used sparingly for everyones survival. Not only is water used to water crops and drink, but also the sacred water is used in the ceremonies.

Nowadays, the people on Black Mesa have to drive many miles, every day, to find water for themselves and the animals. Those who cannot drive themselves, due to lack of petrol , functioning car, or/and old age, have to get help. The roads up on the Mountain, really isnt suitable for car-traffic, and very often the cars break down..

To fix them, of course costs money…something the people on Black Mesa most often dont have

But still, they keep struggling on. Persistant in their cause, to protect this place, so very sacred to them, so that coming generations too, will know a place to call home, a living traditional culture and knowledge of their spiritual ways.

The huge sacrifices that these Elders and their families have made, throughout the years, most people in the outside world, cannot even begin to understand. One thing is definately certain, they have not gained riches or material wealth, in this process. They still live in what we in the western world would call, severe poverty.

Back in the days when the Dineh and Hopi peoples lived selfsustainable, independent lives, and grew their food for themselves, they lived healthy lives and often lived to be over a hundred years old. Still in old age, moving around and carrying out their daily chores, tending to their fields and animals.

Theres this old man, we visited, on Big Mountain. He lives all by himself, now. His wife passed away a few years ago. She died from kidney failure.

His wifes brother used to live in the house across the wash, from them. He too, died a couple of years ago, aged only a couple of years over 60 . He died from cancer.

It must be so awfully lonley up there now. The old mans daughter and her husband, visits every weekend, when they are free from work, and help him out. His daughter asked if he wanted to move off the Land, and live where he would have people around him, but the old man said no. This place belonged to his wife….he has commited himself to tend to it and her sheep and goats, to see that nothing bad happens to this beautiful place.

He doesnt have to do it, but he is doing it, anyway.

-Why? I guess he too is convinced that this place is sacred and needs people to help protect it from the greedy Monsters that want to destroy all this Beauty and the People.

But we all need to realize, that this old man, one of the few Elders left on Big Mountain, also carry on his task, for the sake of all of us.

Yes, you heard right.

I ask you to concider what would happen to the world if the US government and the Peabody coal company, got free range to all that coal, still left in Black Mesa?

You dont have to be a rocket-scientist, to figure that one out.

We have arrived at the time, here, when most people realize that the burning of fossil fuels has caused our Climate to change.

Most people also now realize that the changing climate is a great threat to the survival of humanity, animals, plants, trees, waters – all life.

Yes, we have arrived at the time, when the western world suddenly has woken up to the fact that we need clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, that our food comes from our Earth Mother and if we want to be free from sickness, the food needs to be free of toxins.

The one thing we humans cannot manage or stand against, is Natural Law. The great forces of nature are too powerful for a human being.

When the temperatures gets warmer on Earth, it causes the oceans to warm up. The polarices melts, the currents that forms from the melting ice may cause to slow down, halt or change direction of for instance the Gulf stream.

The superior design of Creation, is so perfect and balanced into the tiniest detail. Every little part is interconnected to the big design.

If we should look at for instance the constant flow of waters in the oceans, on the global scale, we find that the water is in constant movement. It moves past continents like it was powered by a giant water-pump. When the waters passes by the arctic areas, it cools down by the ice and cold temperatures, continues on to pass by the warmer zones, gradually warming up and then cooling down as it passes the arctic, again. This is the original balance that has existed since time immemorial, and this is the design that govern our climate patterns.

I am not a scientist, and do not have scientific schooling, but it doesnt take so much thinking to understand that if this pattern becomes altered, the consequences will be truly terrible.

We may be fooled to think that the Global warming only recently started, but I think that the process has been going on for a long time. I think we have now passed the critical point when a series of conditions has been triggered and causes the process to speed up at a fast rate.

The Indigenous Peoples have worked for a very long time, to make the international community see, that the western lifestyle creates a lot of difficulties for them as Peoples and is very destructive to the environment.


Few has listened to their voices, and even fewer has done anything to halt the destructive process.

It is time to honor and acknowledge Indigenous Peoples long hard struggle, and to listen to what they have to say.

It is time to realize that they are the experts on their issues and also hold great wisdom and knowledge about the global environmental conditions.

Lets together work with Indigenous Peoples experts for a truly responsible ecologically sustainable future. We all really need these peoples, in the time that lie ahead of us.

Yes, Al Gore did a thing of great value, when he released the film ”An Inconvenient Truth”, and we should all be grateful for that.  But please remember all those hardworking Indigenous Peoples who has fought so hard and sacrificed so much, for such a long time, against all odds, to get the same message through to us, some of them did so until their last breath – dying on their posts.

Say a Prayer every morning for the Dineh and Hopi People and the Land on Black Mesa, for All Indigenous Peoples and for All Life. Pray for Mother Earth and for All Our Relations.

Life is a gift. Please give thanks for that gift.
For All My Relations   Carina Gustafsson Sweden




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