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 Native Communities Fight Against Coal Mine near Texas-Mexico Border

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Join date : 2012-05-29
Location : Manchester UK

PostSubject: Native Communities Fight Against Coal Mine near Texas-Mexico Border   Wed 27 Apr 2016, 13:11

Native Communities Fight Against Coal Mine near Texas-Mexico Border

April 22, 2016

Around 150 protesters, representing several tribes and nations, gathered at the Texas-Mexico border to raise awareness about the environmental and cultural threats posed by a recently launched open-pit coal mine.

The Dos Republicas coal mine, located a few miles outside of Eagle Pass, Texas, has become the focus of controversy regarding the use of burial grounds and lands which are considered sacred by indigenous communities. On  Saturday, April 16, about 150 activists marched from Independence Bridge on the Texas-Mexico border to the front of the Dos Republicas coal mine. Many of the protesters were Native American, representing the Texas’ Lipan Apaches, the Pacuache Band of the Cohuiltecan Nation, the Carrizo-Comecrudo Tribe, the Kikapoos, and various chapters of the American Indian Movement. The groups “called on the Army Corps of Engineers to rescind the mine’s permit and halt the destruction of their ancestral lands.”

The protesters say that according to federal law the mine should not have been completed without consulting the native communities “The National Historic Preservation Act clearly states you must consult with involved tribes when historical or cultural sites are concerned. It’s mandatory,” said Maria Torres, tribal chairwoman for The Pacuache Indian Tribe First Nation of Texas. “No effort was made to consult with the tribes. None at all.”

According to an [url= No. 215_redacted.pdf]archeological survey[/url] conducted in 1992, 11 sites within the Dos Republicas permit area are “eligible for designation as a state archeological landmark and/or eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.” Fusion also reports that Dos Republicas mine permit application submitted to the Railroad Commission of Texas in 2008, lists over 70 cultural resource sites within the proposed impact area. The plans call for prehistoric campsites and artifacts to be cleared for drainage and railway tracks.

Bryan Parras, a  community health worker in Houston and founder of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Service (TEJAS) was present for the march. “I stand with my Native Texans and believe that this ground should not be disturbed as our first inhabitants are buried in these grounds and should not be removed,” said Parras.  “This area is home to our sacred medicine and several endangered species.”
Dr. Tane Ward, a long-time indigenous rights activists working with the Sierra Club in Austin, told Fusion that the tribes were hoping to shut down the mine permanently, but also “to come together as a people who have been denied a right to our land, our sovereignty, our history, and our heritage.”

The open-pit mine is owned by Dos Republicas Coal Partnership and first starting operating in late 2015. When the low-grade coal is ripped from the 6,346 acre mine it is shipped by train to Mexico where it is burned in coal-fired power plants in Nava, Coahuila, a half-hour drive south of the border. This is because the coal is too dirty according to U.S. standards, but perfectly acceptable in Mexico.

Rudy Rodriguez, a representative for Dos Republicas, told Fusion that the company has gone “above and beyond what was called for in the permitting process.” Rodriguez stressed that the mine would bring $1 million a year to the local economy and create new jobs.

It’s important to recognize the struggle against the open-pit mine in the context of a larger war against native peoples across the country. Many people are unaware that native communities continue to fight colonization and destruction of their unique cultures. The blog “Equilibrio Norte” adds clarity to the situation:
Quote :
Mirabeau Lamar decreed it illegal for any Indians to remain within Texas in 1838.  The response was for many Natives to go into hiding, essentially assuming a Xicano (chi-cah-no) identity.
Xicanos, often referred to as Mexicans or Mexican Americans, are Native.  Since the term “Mexican” implies the nation to the south and immigration, this label is used by colonial society to disenfranchise Native claims by Spanish speaking mestizos. People identify as Xicano for political reasons – it is a claim to Native ancestry. Xicanos have been living in Texas since before the founding of the USA, before colonialism.
When seen from this viewpoint we can understand the Dos Republicas coal mine as another unfortunate example of native peoples being totally ignored and forced to bear the burden of environmental degradation, as well as eradication of culturally valuable lands and customs. The United States government can not pretend to care about the oppressed until the politicians are willing to acknowledge the crimes that continue to be inflicted upon the First Nations of North America.
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