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Eulogy for Lori

Filed in: Iraq, Fri, Apr 11 2003 03:43 PT

Lori Piestewa

The London Guardian has an article on Lori Piestewa, the 23-year-old Hopi woman who died in combat in Iraq. As I mentioned earlier, she went to the same high school in Tuba City, Arizona that I did, and was in the same Marine Corps Junior ROTC. As much as it upsets me to hear about the death of a soldier off in a foreign land, this article brought home a sickening American cycle: using the children of those who have been exploited for resources over the centuries to exploit another people for its resources.

The article describes the crushing poverty in the Navajo and Hopi nations (and among native Americans), and the fact that it does draw a number of poor minorities to join the military as a way out. This is common practice in the military, whether they’re picking them off the rez or from the inner city.

What the article misses is this: The native American governments, whether you call them nations or reservations or whatever, are exemplary of what happens when the United States government “partners” with a country that has resources it can use. Just south of Tuba City, and elsewhere in the area, are coal mines. Peabody Coal has run them for several decades, abusing native land for big profits (and to fuel Los Angeles and Las Vegas), wasting billions of gallons of water annually for a coal slurry, giving their employees black lung, and leaving the detritus as Superfund sites. Billions of dollars were plundered from this region over the years, and for their trouble, the people of the Navajo and Hopi nations have almost nothing to show for it.

The cycle begins again in Iraq.

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