Yaqui and Navajo: Theft of water rights is a crime against humanity

By Brenda Norrell

VICAM PUEBLO, Sonora, Mexico — Yoeme (Yaqui) traditional leaders completed the final document at the International Forum for the Defense of Water, on Wednesday. The two day gathering, Nov. 20-21, hosted by the Traditional Authority of Vicam Pueblo, brought together Indigenous Peoples in solidarity with the Zapatistas to protect Indian water rights.
Yoeme are now facing the theft of their water by the Mexican government. Yoeme are battling the Independence Aqueduct which would carry water from the Rio Yaqui to Hermosillo.

Diné / Navajo Badlands (Photo © Rebecca Somme

Diné / Navajo Badlands (Photo © Rebecca Somme

Just as in the United States, Mexico’s cities and dirty corporate polluters are wasting water and running out of water.
The cities, states and the governments of the US and Mexico have designed theft plans for Indian water rights. Currently, Yoeme in the state of Sonora, south of Arizona, and Navajos in Arizona, are resisting the theft plans of the governments of Mexico and the US.
In the Yoeme villages, like on Black Mesa in Arizona, most Indian people live without running water, while corporate developers and industries waste water and pollute the water. While Indigenous Peoples live without running water, they live with the pollution and destruction, including coal fired power plants on Navajoland, and chemical and agricultural poisons on Yaqui land.
Navajos are fighting the theft scheme of Dine’ water rights to the Little Colorado River. The scheme is designed to benefit the dirty coal fired power plant Navajo Generating Station, which provides electricity to Arizona’s thirsty cities. Recently a leaked e-mail exposed Interior Sec. Ken Salazar’s plan, with Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, to push a water rights settlement through a lame duck Congress. Navajos have already said “no” to the so-called water rights settlement.
Yoeme and Navajos are now both fighting water rights theft schemes. Yoeme and Navajo are upholding the standard that the right to water is a human right, and the theft of water is a crime against humanity.
Indigenous gathered here spoke on the defense of water and the sacredness of water, for which their futures depend. O’odham Ofelia Rivas sang a sacred water song. The O’odham ceremonial community of Quitovac in northern Sonora is threatened by gold mining, which would poison their water.
During the final session of the water gathering on Vicam Pueblo on Wednesday afternoon, supporters were honored by the traditional Yaqui leaders and thanked for making their long journeys here.
Yaqui said in a written invitation to the gathering, “Before the sacking of its territory and the latent extermination, the Yaqui Tribe again will listen to the voices from the heart of their territory to continue the defense of water, which is not an independent struggle, but a struggle of each and every one of the Indigenous Peoples who are seeking to defend and uphold their territory, autonomy, peace, justice and dignity. It is also the struggle of Mexican society for democracy and freedom.”
Also see: Video conclusion and summary of water forum

Photos of forum by Brenda Norrell

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