The Black Mesa Mine complex is located in northeastern Arizona, about 125 miles from Flagstaff. The complex consists of two separate mines, the Kayenta Mine and the Black Mesa Mine, which cover 62,753 acres of Hopi and Navajo land. Tribe members in both the Hopi and Navajo Councils have been in disagreement for years over the best way to handle the mining issue. Many elders and other tribe members feel as though the Navajo Aquifer and the water it provides are sacred and thus should not be damaged even more than it already has. However, some members believe that the only way to exist in the modern world is to compete economically, which means sacrificing certain aspects of Navajo and Hopi culture. The internal debates have often been even more heated than those with Peabody Coal. In 1995, a court case involving royalty dispute between the Navajo Nation and Peabody Coal was brought to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2003, the court case United States v. Navajo Nation was finally settled. The 1964 lease that tribe had signed gave the tribe 37.5 cents for every ton of coal mined, but by 1984, this sum amounted to only 2% of the company's gross proceeds. In 1977, Congress required a minimum of 12.5%, which the tribe and Peabody Coal agreed on. However, in 1993, the tribe sued the government claiming a breach of trust and requesting over $600 million in monetary relief. The court ruled against the tribe, claiming that even though the government may have betrayed the trust, it did not break violate any laws. However, on appeal, the tribe that the Indian Mineral Leasing Act of 1938 imposes a "broad obligation to look after the wellbeing of the tribe." The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit agreed. In the Supreme Court, however, a 6-3 decision ruled that an Indian Tribe must "identify a substantive source of law that establishes specific fiduciary or other duties." The Court concluded that no provision of the IMLA entitled the tribe to monetary damages as a result of the government's role in the negotiations. Other strategies used in the struggle include civil disobedience on the part of Hopi and Navajo elders. Community awareness has also been greatly increased, as well as media involvement. NGOs have played a huge role in terms of publicizing the issues and helping the tribe's fight Peabody Coal. Internet sites dedicated to opposing the mine also have been a big asset to the tribes. In 2005, the mine was finally closed after three decades, but there is already interest in reopening the mine. The public outcry opposing Peabody has been great, but as helpful as BMIS and other grassroots organizations have been, Peabody is still trying to obtain the permit to reopen.
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