Coal in the Navajo Nation

Coal in the Navajo Nation: A matter of resilience

Photo: The Nature Conservancy


The coal industry has a long and complicated history within the Navajo Nation, which historically has spanned territory in Utah, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. Against the backdrop of a nationwide retreat from coal-as-energy, the sprawling tribal territory has an opportunity to reclaim their land and provide a template for positive outcomes in other environmental justice scenarios nationwide. 

Historical context of the navajo

By Jill Runkle The Navajo Nation is the current name for the second largest indigenous government and territory in the United States (The Editors of Encyclopedia Brittanica). Navajo actually refers to the Tewa-puebloan word for “place of large planted fields”, which was later adopted and used by the Spanish (Crow Canyon…). Within their own language,…

History of Coal in the Navajo Nation

By Sydney Fernandez Coal production began on the Navajo Nation in the 1960’s with the opening of the Four Corners Plant. (Associated Press) and as of the present day the coal investment in the region included four coal-fired power plants and three coal mines. (Scientific American).  Coal-as-energy has a dichotomous relationship with the Navajo Tribe,…

Coal in the Navajo Nation: Cultural Impacts

By Maria Bernard The Navajo nation has an and rich history.  They have deep rooted traditions that are sacred to them and their way of life.  Originally located in the northeast corner of Arizona, northwest corner of New Mexico and the southwest corner of Colorado, the geography of the region became a central part of their culture.  This…

History of Colonialism: Impacts on Indigenous and Immigrant populations

By Garret Pilachowski Colonialism: defined as “control by one power over a dependent area or people.”[1] Settler Colonialism: People from one nation go off to live in another country, where they not only build settlements, till the soil, and harvest natural resources, but also strive to replace the indigenous people already living there.[2] Exploitation Colonialism: Does not require…

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