Cursed by Coal: Mining the Navajo Nation


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There’s a resource curse on the Navajo Nation. The 27,000-square-mile reservation straddling parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah has an extremely high abundance of many energy resources — particularly coal. That coal is what’s burned to provide much of the Southwest with electricity, and it creates jobs for the Navajo. But the mining and burning have also caused environmental degradation, serious health issues, and displacement.

VICE News travels to the Navajo Nation to find out how its abundance of coal is affecting the future of the Navajo people.

Watch “Toxic: Coal Ash” –

Watch “Petcoke: Toxic Waste in the Windy City” –

Read “Line 61, the Oil Pipeline That Will Dwarf Keystone XL” –

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43 thoughts on “Cursed by Coal: Mining the Navajo Nation

  1. All "Native American issues" come back to the reservation system. The only people who support the existence of the reservation system are ethnocentric Indians and their PC liberals shills. You reap what you sow.

  2. The 92 year old lady fought for her land against the white man, but still has a picture of a "white Jesus" on her wall. The same image the white man use to destroy her people in the first place.

  3. Total blame is on communist liberal environmentalists and pro-Soviet-era of journalism as seen on Vice News , who delight in creating unemployment to the Navajo people in order to save the red-tailed cockroach. I'm talking with Native tribal members to from a protest and possible uprising in Washington to make light of the problem that Obama and his liberal-white environmental cohorts created for all tribes of dependence upon the government for a measly check that barely feeds a family. The Navajo were prospering well for several decades until the young stupid white man from liberal arts colleges and Calipornia interfered with their way of life.

  4. Just saw Rena and her daughters on Friday. They are strong and as beautiful as ever. She is a leader, historian, mother, revolutionary, an informed and intelligent woman. These people are who every American ought to know about and support. Thank You Vice!

  5. This needs to be stopped! Every one wants to claim their great great great great granny was a Cherokee princess yet NONE of you want to help Native People! You people disgust me. I'm pissed asf!

  6. The tribal council sucks, all they want is money (they embezzle and get let off easy) , and they rarely notify the people about their decisions or deals, where we can give our input. Plus most on the council are old school and won't let new, educated blood in.

  7. Navajos will be extinct by 2028… or my name is not Donald Trump…. Bahaha… "Navajo don't care about animals or life anymore… they have grown dependent on Nike, Under Armour and Trap Lifestyle… they are a growing consumer constituency that has been swayed from hard working persistence to a new generation of Television diet… who h makes us far and lazy. we don't look ahead to the future devastation ahead of us… we want now… we want grandma's paycheck at the first of the month… we want no future benifits for our great grandchildren. we are too busy counting dollars and 12 packs of Diabetes infused Sodas at Wal Mart instead of counting guys kisses and laughs from the generation who is about to leave us. it's too much to bear… to painful to watch… let history repeat itself. Kit Carson reinvented himself as Big Coal… might as well run your sheep/Livestock off a canyon yourself… and save big coal 3 minutes of production… we are lost. Money, Friends and Foreign dollars have driven that nail into our coffin.

  8. they got their own reversaat their own land thats nice from america what about the blacks do they have a own state too soon their will be sepated in america whites,reds,blacks an aseans

  9. Most of the electricity generated by that massive coal-fired plant is used for a single purpose: pumping WATER across a massive desert. The American West, and especially the Southwest, is a WELFARE QUEEN. Billions of dollars of federal tax dollars have been spent over decades to move water from one place to another, to supply water to idiots who are oblivious to living in a wasteland. Ultimately, this land cannot sustain the human burden that's been imposed on it.

  10. Thank you for this video, for the minimal amount of exposure Native Americans get, this is but a glimpse into the hardships the Navajo people and Native Americans in general have. I'm Navajo and I'm going to one of the top film schools in the country to try and tell these stories that the rest of the nation so easily brushes off.

    No one cares or dares to face the reality of over consumption and limited resources. People are dumb. Cities like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, etc. etc. are all enormous cities in the middle of the desert, which is fucking dumb. Those cities and many others are the reason the lower Colorado River is dry, or the reason why Lake Mead is dropping in water levels. Cities and things of those sizes should not and cannot exist sustainably in a desert.

    Not only is the environment a major concern that no one gives a fuck about, but the Native peoples are so exploited and disenfranchised and walked over so that these things can still exist and turn a profit. No one cares or even thinks about Native Americans as modern people, only when they do something as small as trying to change a sports team mascot. People are just in general ignorant and apathetic about this issue. I've been on the reservations, I know how my family members and many others live out there. It's heinous; people having to haul water, living without electricity or even a bathroom and yet they live in the United States of America, no one talks about it.

    These issues are irrelevant to everyone, and yet they all benefit. It's a vicious cycle that I've identified. Native Americans aren't given the same opportunity or same attention as everyone else and so they stay. They don't exceed what they were born with because they are told that they can't. They stay on the reservation because they can't go anywhere else and they are exploited and used in the disgusting operations to profit the execs and American people at their own cost.

    Socially these things have to change, but environmentally these things must change. No one knows or cares about these issues, yet they all benefit and they will all be affected in the end.

  11. this is heart breaking but eye opening. how is this not major news American people are more concerned about football and some bull shit buy solar go green electric cars really do work they have been around for over 100 yrs. but we still use coal because of money and our own ignorance.

  12. White people are the most terrible group to ever exist. Everywhere they go and every thing they do is nothing but pain, death and miseries for the people they come into contact with. There is no place on earth that is "better" for contact with whites from anywhere. Native Americas, Africans, Aboriginals from all over, etc… had cultures of our own, civilizations of our own, religions, languages, arts, music, etc… and so much of that was destroyed when whites were added into the mix… and we're supposed to just ignore that, all of our history and culture, and conform to white culture… a culture of buzzards and locust.. disgusting.

  13. Not only that, it's hard to open up a business here, it takes at least 4 years to get approved and hopefully get it going, but then a survey comes out to your door and it shuts down your business "temporarily", but then they take their time to go through the survey, so then not many jobs are being made cause of this system… I'm this close of being ashamed of this reservation after finding out about this… and it sickens me that the navajo nation government said, "We're a sovereign nation", even though we're not

  14. When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money" is a quote by a Cree Indian. We all love money and cheap electricity but it cannot sustain us.

  15. Humanity is a ludicrous enterprise that will kill its habitat soon. Want to limit suffering? Stop making new humans to be unhappy/exploited by others.

  16. No so called law enforcement should be manhandling elders and especially eldrly women, it is a disgrace the law treated the elder that way. The law broke their own laws and should be chareged for assualt!

  17. 4:30 he's listing everything he's concerned about, and you can clearly see he's wearing a redskins hat. Guess he's not concerned about a football team using a native american as a logo. So all you PC liberals worried about "cultural appopriation" and stupid bullshit like that need to realize that there are much bigger issues in the world, like oh i don't know, the way we get our energy…

  18. Ńléí 'atsįnįltłish 'ííł'į́nį́tsoh 'ákǫ́ǫ́ nąąznįlígíí deiyiijeehgo bįnįįnąą nį́łch'ihígíí yę́ę ts'ídá doo nįhxá yá'áshxǫ́ǫ da silį́į' n̨di Wááshindǫǫndi hódahdi nąháaztą́nígíí doo n̨di danįhxíists'ą́ą' da.

    'Áko shą' díí atsįnįltłish 'ííł'į́nį́tsoh danįlį́nígíí haa yit'éego lá nį'kódadoolnííł?

  19. This is the biggest crock of shit I have ever laid eyes on in my life!!1. If this were true, every man, woman and child in Appalachia would be dead of black lung disease.2. That "smoke" you see coming from stacks at coal plants is STEAM!!3. If you idiots wouldn't fight to shut down underground mining, strip mining would rarely take place.4. "Global warming" is a hoax!!http://www.express.co.uk/news/nature/592932/Polar-ice-caps-increase-volume-third-cool-summer-halts-melting-Arctic

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