Navajo group protesting purchase of coal mine

Posted at: 02/17/2014 5:20 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A nearly 50-year-old coal mine has just been sold to the Navajo Nation but some groups aren't happy about it.  One is using a very visual method to try and get people to speak out.

"Yes it scares me! It scares me when I look at the young children, it scares me, the baby that’s going to be born tonight, yes it scares me, “ Sarah White said.

White is talking about the health and wellbeing of the Navajo people.

"We would rather go clean energy,” White said. “To make a better place for our young ones, for the Four Corners. For the Navajo people. Not only the Navajo people but we all breathe the same air. "

White is part of a group called Diné Care, the group that put up a billboard along Highway 64 in Hogback.

White said, “We hope that people will realize that this is what is going on. We wanted the people to come together and make a change.”

The billboard is in response to the sale of BHP Billiton's Navajo coal mine to the Navajo Nation.

“We have been talking about this for a long time and we finally had the funding to put it together and the work force, it’s gotta be the people, the volunteers that come up and decide to do the work,” said White.

Volunteers helped build the sign. The money and materials to get it done was all donated.

White hopes it gets people to start talking and asking questions.

“They just don't come out and say it a lot of people are afraid to speak up, that’s why it says speak up now, or forever shut up.”

According to a statement from BHP Billiton-- the sale extends the life of coal mining operations at Navajo mine until 2031. It also says the mine will bring in about $5.5 billion dollars to the local economy.