According to Sheridan, the creation of Native American reservations in Arizona “proceeded sporadically and haphazardly over 119 years” (305).
Booth states that “modern Native Americans face different challenges than did their ancestors, and many of those challenges affect how they can now relate to the land” (330).
“Navajo and Hopi living near Black Mesa, in northern Arizona, are suing the federal government to protect ancient burial sites from Peabody Coal, which is seeking a lifetime permit. Hopi leaders say the coal company, which has been mining Black Mesa since the 1960s, has already desecrated, dug up, and shipped off archeological artifacts without tribal consent” (Langlois).
The ancestral lands of the many Native American tribes are currently threatened. As stated by Langlois, ancient burial sites of archeological significance located in Black Mesa, Arizona, are at risk of destruction because, for decades, Peabody Coal has conducted mining operations there and removed some archeological artifacts from the area without seeking the agreement of the indigenous people.
“By the mid-1800s, American settlers were pouring into the land. As they searched for wealth, they, too, paid little respect to the people who had lived in a balance with the land for hundreds of years. Many new settlers were openly hostile, declaring war, poisoning, or shooting native people” (“American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona”).
As stated in “American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona,” when newcomers were arriving in Arizona searching for wealth in the 1800s, they were extremely hostile towards Native Americans who had tried to live in harmony with nature for millennia. The conflicts between settlers and indigenous people often turned into wars with mass shootings and poisoning that resulted in enormous casualties on both sides.
“Tribes sharing reservation land grew together to form sovereign nations under one government. Though tribes living on some reservations in Arizona retain different ancestry, culture, and language, they became one nation. The Gila River Indian Community, where Pima (Akimel O’odham) and Maricopa Indians live together, is an example of one government comprised of more than one original tribe.” (“American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona”).
In “American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona,” the authors observe that, before becoming a unified nation, Native American tribes were often highly diverse in terms of culture and linguistic ancestry. However, although remaining in close contact with each other today, the tribes manage to preserve their distinctive in-group cultural features.
“Black Mesa Water Coalition (BMWC) is an Indigenous-led environmental justice organization based in Flagstaff, Arizona. BMWC is dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities. BMWC was formed in 2001 by young, inter-tribal, inter-ethnic people dedicated to addressing issues of water depletion, natural resource exploitation, and health promotion within Navajo and Hopi Communities” (D’Arcy 30).
D’Arcy notes that the primary goals of the Black Mesa Water Coalition founded in 2001 include environmental protection, promotion of ecological sustainability, and preservation of Native American culture (30).
“In the songs and legends of Native American cultures, it is apparent that the land and her creatures are perceived as truly beautiful things. There is a sense of great wonder and of something that sparks a deep sensation of joyful celebration” (Booth 331).
Booth claims that the legends of Native Indians convey a feeling of reverence for nature’s beauty − “there is a sense of great wonder and of something that sparks a deep sensation of joyful celebration” in them (331).
“Reservations today range in size from the enormous Navajo Nation, which covers nearly 16 million acres and is the largest reservation in the United States, to the tiny Tonto Apache reservation which occupies 378 acres south of Payson” (Sheridan 305). Havasupai Tribe − “Population: 639: size: 518 acres” (“American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona”).
Some of the communities in Arizona, such as the “enormous Navajo Nation,” can be so large that they spread across several states and 16 million acres, while the smallest ones, such as the Havasupai Tribe, may comprise only 639 people and cover about 500 acres (Sheridan 305; “American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona”).
“American Indian Tribes and Communities in Arizona.” The Arizona Experience. Web.
Booth, Annie L. “We are the Land: Native American Views of Nature.” Nature Across Cultures: Views of Nature and the Environment in Non-Western Cultures, edited by Helaine Selin, Springer, 2013, pp. 329-350.
D’Arcy, Angela Mooney. “Environmental Justice.” Native Voices Rising: A Case for Funding Native-led Change, edited by Louis T. Delgado, Common counsel Foundation, and Native Americans in Philanthropy, 2013, pp. 25-37.
Langlois, Krista. ” How Native Americans Have Shaped the Year’s Biggest Environmental Debates.” High Country News. 2014. Web.
Sheridan, Thomas E. Arizona: A History, Revised Edition. University of Arizona Press, 2012.