From The Roots Of Racism Comes Positive Energy!
For years after this incident, James channeled her energies into education and diversity training, but now she’s back into grass-roots organizing with the environmentally-oriented group called the Dineh Biziil Coalition.
The group has grown from a handful of people seeking to better Navajo tribal government in early 2001 to an umbrella of 37 organizations representing more than 1,200 members. It protests everything from proposed snowmaking for skiing on the San Francisco Peaks, uranium mining in the Four Corners area, telescopes on Mt. Graham, emphasizing energy in South Dakota to reclaiming sacred sites in California and is in the process of linking with the Zapatista causes in Southern Mexico.
Loosely patterned after the AIM protests of the ‘70s and ‘80s, which used aggressive and high volume tactics, James emphasizes “Our way is peaceful and low key in trying to change things, first, at the community level.
Already, the group has gotten the attention of Native politicians Navajo Nation President, Joe Shirley, Jr., Vice-President Frank Dayish, Jr. and State Rep. Jack Jackson, Jr. of Window Rock, who have been regulars at Dineh Biziil meetings and have offered their help on a number of fronts.
At the present time, James is currently involved in an effort to keep Arizona Snow Bowl officials from making artificial snow on their ski area, a proposal being considered by the U.S. Forest Service.
A Google Search reveals the main arguments James and other environmentalists have against artificial snow making is that it depletes streams and ponds, raises the acidity of the water and kills fish and other organisms crucial to the eco-system.
The noise from snowmaking machines also disrupts hibernation patterns of bear and other animals. There are rising concerns about the new methods of snow making which inserts Snomax, an inert bacterial additive, to enhance crystal formation at warmer temperatures.
So, residing in Flagstaff with its Snow Bowl, the mecca of Arizona’s winter sports, James is at ground zero with her current protest.
James, married and mother of four children, states her inspiration for environmentalism comes from Native American activist, Winona La Duke. Says James, “She (La Duke) is a true advocate of protecting the Earth for future generations. We need more people like her on the crucial issues for our survival.”
This article has been edited from the pages of the September 17th edition of the Arizona Republic from a story bylined, Mark Shaffer.